filed in Opinion on Jul.26, 2006
That’s right sports fans, another college football season is almost upon us and there are once again big questions surrounding the football program at the University of Colorado. This time, however, the questions are all about the on the field product the Buffs will be putting out. Gone are the off the field problems that have haunted the program ever since “Slick” Rick took over the program in the mid nineties. The scandals of the Gary Barnett and Dick Tharp regime appear to be a closed chapter as Mike Bohn and Dan Hawkins have brought a youthful exuberance and a sense that the athletic department cares that this is indeed an academic institution. With every position open up to competition this off season many questions surround the team as the august practices draw closer. Here are 3 of the biggest question marks I see as the Buffs look forward to the fall:
1. Who will be the starting quarterback?
Is this the year Bernard Jackson is given an opportunity to learn a position and really put his athletic abilities to use or will Brian White’s big arm and vertical passing game be the answer? The competition for starting quarterback appears to be a two horse race entering fall camp thanks to an injury that sidelined James Cox during spring practice, but lets be honest here, have we ever seen anything out of Cox that has ever made us believe he was the answer at quarterback? I anticipate that White’s passing ability will give him the edge over Jackson, but I expect Dan Hawkins and his staff to be more creative and will find a way to get Jackson on the field in special situations.
2. How will the defense respond to a new system?
Along with new coaching comes new systems and it will be interesting to see how the defense responds to another new defensive scheme. It seemed every year under Barnett that the defensive philosophy changed, but one constant remained; cornerbacks routinely beat deep and failing to play the ball. There is some talent on the defensive side of the ball, but a lack of depth in the secondary and on the defensive line could prove costly if the defense is left on the field for long periods of time or if injuries become problem. Hopefully the defense will prove adequate this year and in the coming years the recruiting will get better and the depth issues will disappear.
3. Will Hugh Charles stay strong?
Last season Hugh Charles got off to a fantastic start. By midseason you could see the running back wearing down. By the end of the season Charles had almost disappeared, but then again so did the rest of team. Coach Hawkins has said he hopes to find more ways to get Charles, and his speed, the ball in the open field. This includes splitting him out wide in certain formations and moving him around in motion. Hopefully the creativity of the coaching staff can keep Charles fresh late into the season. What the Buffs also need is a second back to emerge to take some of the load off of Charles. Last season Byron Ellis was given the back up running back job by default. This season Mell Holliday figures into the mix, something the NCAA took away last season. Holliday is a tough runner looking to prove that he can carry the ball at the D-1 level. If Holliday and Ellis can shoulder some of the burden look for Charles to flourish as a runner and receiver.
Overall I like the Buffs chances to put together a solid year and show the nation that things are heading in the right direction. Being realistic I feel that 8-4 is obtainable and should be considered a successful year. But as always in my heart I feel that an undefeated season is coming, Go Buffs!!!