At last, let the journey begin. Finally, no more to talk about than "10 wins, no excuses," preseason rankings, and trying to rationalize the experience of your second team quarterback divided by the factor of 3 to figure out upcoming win potential. It's tough trying to get through the minutia, rehashing on subjects that never seem to go away. Last year it was the off-the-field issues, the year before was the "intramurals" comment and we all know what the offseason of 2009 will be famous for. Hopefully, 2010's offseason will be known for the talk about the resurrection of the Colorado Buffaloes football program.
Hopefully, the 2009 season is about quieting the snickering and the under-the-breath-laughing that most of the nation is displaying towards the "I didn't guarantee 10 wins" by coach Hawkins.
Boy is it good to have actual football back.
Everyone has things they hope to hear about coming out of camp that will make them feel better about the upcoming season, especially this year, as pivotal as it is surrounded by the perpetual statement : "if." The time to answer the "ifs" starts tomorrow!
There are many things to be excited about as camp kicks off but here are five that should get the juices flowing
-The Emergence of a new No. 1 - Yep, it looks like Andre Simmons might be wearing the number 1 this season based on the most recent release of the 2009 roster. Let's hope that it actually comes to fruition. In somewhat of a heroic effort to finish nine classes this spring and summer just to possibly qualify, Andre Simmons will try to pull off another amazing feat to get into "playing shape" and digest the playbook in one month to become a key playmaker. Talk about a whirlwind last few months for Simmons who probably had no idea what he was in for when he committed to the Buffs on February 4th. I am excited to see the big #1 out there, standing 6'3" weighing in at 210 pounds, showing off his 4.46...something that trumps any Buffs' receiver by almost two tenths of a second. Whether he will be ready to make an immediate impact from week one or even week four against West Virginia remains to be seen but there is excitement around the prospects of such an impact. Still with all the hoopla about Simmons, the real key to gain offensive balance will be the growth of Markques Simas as a true number 1 receiver. Similar to Andre Simmons, Simas has never played in a division one game so the Buffs are counting on a lot of production from the unknown. That being said, the unknowns have talent and the potential to be the best duo at receiver the Buffs have had in a while.
-Eric Kiesau at the Helm - 95th, 72nd, 102nd...that has been the Buffs' total offense ranking the last three years. With the departure of former offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich to Oregon in the offseason and the promotion of the popular Eric Kiesau, Buff fans are hoping that the new man in charge can maximize the strengths of the offense. The good news is that the pieces seem to be in a better place than they ever were under Helfrich and let's face it, the numbers can't get much worse. I am excited to see if Kiesau can pump some life into the offense, something he has already done on the recruiting front. Dan Hawkins takes over Kiesau's wide receiver duties with Hawkins stating that Kiesau will be given total autonomy on the X's and O's. It will be fun to watch the impact Hawkins has on one of the biggest question mark positions and at the same time, the game plans Kiesau comes up with.
-One, Two, Three, Four... That's A Stable - the Buffs seem to have four running backs who are all capable of carrying the load. Of course the headliner is Darrell Scott who is still the player most fans will go and see this fall. #2 will be a different player than people will remember seeing last fall. Gone is the 230 pound back and supposedly in is the 210 pound speedster that still has the power that we saw last fall. The newest roster lists Scott at a surprising 225 pounds, though, which is a surprise if it is true due to the statements from many parties, including himself, saying Scott's best playing weight is in the 210 range. Don't forget about Rodney Stewart who is still playing the underdog role after outplaying Darrell Scott a year ago and leading the Buffs in rushing. Stewart and Scott should have a great battle all camp and I think running backs coach Darian Hagan loves pinning the players against each other to breed competition. Don't forget about Demetrius Sumler, who led the Buffs in rushing touchdowns last year, and Brian Lockridge, whose speed quickly catches the eye. Running back drills ought to be highly competitive this fall.
-The Newbies - One of the best things about the first few days of camp is getting a look at the newcomers. Most of us have had to rely on the scouting services' height and weight measurements, 3 minute YouTube highlights and MaxPreps statistics. Yeah, Edward Nuckols, the highly rated defensive tackle from California, didn't qualify but there are still plenty of other players that everyone should get a look at to see if they pass the eyeball test. Nick Kasa, the defensive end from Colorado, should bring in a crowd of onlookers as the Buffs badly need the 6'7" pass rusher to get to the quarterback, preferably in year one. All of the neophytes will be good to see out there but I am especially excited to see Kasa, Forrest West, Terdema Ussery, Nate Bonsu and Liloa Nobriga. Also, I have heard not many newcomers have impressed more this summer than CB Deji Olatoye, the lowest rated recruit in last year's class but possess great athleticism and measurables. Oh yeah, make sure you watch out for that 6'5" quarterback as well.
-Position Battles Galore - There are probably only a handful of players who have starting jobs locked up: OG Ryan Miller, OT Nate Solder, C Mike Iltis, OT Bryce Givens, S Anthony Perkins, P Matt DiLallo, S Patrick Mahnke, FB Jake Behrens and possibly CB Jimmy Smith. Other than that, let the battles begin. Running backs & the quarterback spot will get the most attention this fall but to me, the most exciting is at linebacker. Throw in a bunch of talented players, the possible need for a 3 - 4 defense and coach Brian Cabral's history of producing great units and you have, to me, one of the more intriguing battles. Returning starters Shaun Mohler and Jeff Smart were thought to be shoe-ins for a repeat on top of the depth chart but in spring ball, both were in deep competition with Douglas Rippy, B.J. Beatty, Marcus Burton and Michael Sipili. Throw in a healthy Jon Major from the 2008 recruiting class and the Buffs look to have seven players who will be fighting for the three to four spots. Plus, who knows what Forrest West (3 - 4 purposes), Derrick Webb and Liloa Nobriga have to offer. Marcus Burton was lights out in spring ball, showing great range and putting up impressive workout numbers. Who would have thought the 260 pounder would be the fastest backer?