Official Husker Locker Blog
2010 Apr 28
SPRING OPPONENT REPORT: Colorado
Coach: Dan Hawkins (3-9 last year 16-33 at Colorado, 69-44 in Division I)
Plays Nebraska: Nov. 26, 2010 (Lost in 2009 28-20)
Spring Game: April 10
Summary: And so, Dan Hawkins’ final stand in Boulder. Or perhaps you’d prefer to look at it as his final meal. Saddled with yet another difficult non-conference schedule (California and Georgia) and a Big 12 slate that isn’t any easier (games at Nebraska, Missouri, and Oklahoma), it’s hard to see how CU emerges from 2010 with anything better than a .500 record - especially if the Buffaloes start slow.
But Hawkins will field the best team he’s had in Boulder. Yes. Read that again.
Hawkins’ two decent recruiting classes - the 2007 and 2008 - now comprise the bulk of the Buffaloes’ two-deep. And while some of those players hit the bricks - Darrell Scott and Josh Smith, to name two - there is enough material behind, especially on the offensive and defensive lines, for Colorado to be semi-competitive. If Hawkins had ever been able to coax a decent quarterback to Boulder, who knows? These Buffs might have competed for the Big 12 North title this year. As it is, the lack of belief in the program, coupled with an iffy QB play, makes CU a sleeper team with just the minor chance of surprising Big 12 pundits.
Spring Progress: Offensive coordinator Eric Kiseau chose to simplify the West Coast attack and add a bit of zone read to the playbook (sound familiar?). The two dueling quarterbacks, Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen, both had decent spring games - Hawk Jr tossed for 220 yards while Hansen threw for 170 - but it’s Hansen who offers CU a true running threat. If he can cut down on negative plays - he made several in the 28-20 loss to Nebraska, if you’ll recall - he’s the guy. For now, he holds a “paper thin” lead over Hawkins heading into fall. Neither are the true answer; true freshman Nick Hirschman enrolled early and may be a factor in 2011.
CU used a patchwork offensive line during the spring because of injuries and academic issues, but the trio of Nate Solder (tackle), Bryce Givens (tackle) and Ryan Miller (guard) are a good trio around which to build. The offense’s strength is wide receiver, where Scotty McKnight and Markques Simas are joined by Michigan transfer Toney Clemons. Running back is thin, but Rodney Stewart, presuming health, is a versatile, if small, back.
Listen to Dan Hawkins talk about his offensive line:
The much-maligned defense made more progress. The defensive line, according to reports, rounded into shape and controlled most of the scrimmages. Conrad Obi should anchor one tackle spot, and much-ballyhooed defensive Nick Kasa could nab a starting job by the fall. The secondary returns two starters at corner. The linebackers are the big question. Remember: At times last year, Colorado’s defense wasn’t half bad, shutting down Texas and Oklahoma State for a half. The offense simply kept putting the defense in bad spots.
Breakout player: On offense, it was Clemons, who has impressive athleticism, and 6-foot-4, 230-pound redshirt freshman tight end DeVaughn Thornton, who caught two touchdowns from Hansen in the spring game. On defense, Kasa recovered from injuries and a fall illness nicely. Undersized (5-11, 185) safety Parker Orms, a redshirt freshman, had ten tackles and a sack in the spring game.
What You May Not Know: The special teams remains awful. Kicker Aric Goodman just had hip surgery, and hopes to return by August. Whereas most teams would use its youngest players to populate kick and punt coverage teams, CU doesn’t have a lot young talent. The 2009 and 2010 recruiting classes were average and awful, in that order.
Keep an eye on: How Hawkins handles the hot seat questions over the summer and during fall camp. And how he handles the quarterback race. If Hansen could wrest complete control of it away from Cody Hawkins, CU would be all the better for it. The Buffs have to hit the ground running with that non-conference schedule.
Spring Opponent Reports: Kansas State Kansas, Western Kentucky, Colorado
Husker Spring Reviews: Quarterback, Offensive Line Running Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End, Defensive Line, Linebackers, Defensive Backs, Special Teams
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