SI's Stewart Mandel on Colorado

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SI's Stewart Mandel on Colorado

One of the better national writers touches on Colorado in his weekly mailbag, answering a question from another Andrew

I know you usually write about the powerhouses of the Big 12, but I thought I could sneak in a question on Colorado. I had high hopes with the hiring of Dan Hawkins, but have you seen any improvement? The father/son combo from Boise State hasn't really panned out the way I expected.
-- Andrew, Washington D.C.

I had high hopes for Hawkins, too, but I knew he would need time to rebuild. Negative publicity from a litany of alleged sexual assaults by players and subsequent recruiting restrictions in 2004 decimated that program and left a fairly empty cupboard when Hawkins arrived in December '05. But this is now Year Four, and Hawkins knows there's no more room for excuses. He went so far as to publicly predict 10 wins this season, a risky and unusual move (though one in keeping with Hawkins' personality).

On the surface, it would appear the Buffs regressed last season, slipping from an Independence Bowl berth the previous year to a 5-7 record last fall. However, there was more to it than that. Colorado showed its potential with an early-season upset of West Virginia, but a rash of injuries (10 season-enders) plagued it the rest of the way. The Buffs were relying heavily on freshmen and sophomores by the end, yet still managed to give fans a tease in the season finale at Nebraska, holding a 33-31 lead until the final two minutes, when Huskers kicker Alex Henery nailed a 57-yard field goal to steal the victory.

So it's hard to say whether Colorado has "improved" to this point, but I see no reason why the Buffs can't make a breakthrough this year and perhaps even contend for a title in the wide-open Big 12 North. Sophomore running back Darrell Scott had a big spring game and seems poised for a breakout. The biggest issue may well be the father/son combo of which you speak. Quarterback Cody had a rough sophomore season, and if he struggles out of the gate again this year, there'll be problems.

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