On the day the AP released it's 2010 Top 25 preseason poll, the University of Colorado also put on display where the players stand right now going into the season. The Buffs didn't get a single vote in the poll, seven other teams from the Big 12 received votes and seven PAC-10 teams including Utah were mentioned.
Although the press is obviously not giving the Buffs a big of vote of confidence, the depth chart certainly has some areas to be optimistic about:
Certainly, naming Tyler Hansen the starting quarterback was what everyone had in mind for a long time. Hansen has a lot of work to do to show improvement over Cody Hawkins but I agree with offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau's remarks that Hansen's athleticism gives the Buffs a little more versatility from an offensive standpoint. But for me, the big announcement was actually just announcing a starter before the season started. If you remember last year, Dan Hawkins resorted to "we'll see" when asked about the starting quarterback. Colorado didn't name a starter until game time and for the entire length of camp, questions were continually asked about the quarterback. Announcing the starter before the season actually starts is just a good move for your football team. It lets the players know who will be leading them on the field, it gives the starting quarterback the proper time to get mentally prepared and it negates the ongoing distraction surrounding the naming of a starting quarterback. This was a good move by the staff on all accounts. Now it's time for Hansen to prove that it was the right decision.
I don't think the "we're inexperienced" excuse is going to fly this year. Looking up and down the depth chart, you see juniors and seniors with the occasional sophomore sprinkled in but those sophomores like OT Bryce Givens, DT Will Pericak and S Ray Polk have some solid experience. Of course, some of the freshmen running backs like Justin Torres might have to step in and play, OT David Bakhtiari might take over the right offensive tackle spot, but for the most part, these players have been there before. It's the most complete depth chart Dan Hawkins has had.
more after the jump...Count me as one of the people who was seriously worried about wide receiver when Markques Simas was removed from the program. But, the transfer of Travon Patterson and the arrival of Paul Richardson has me excited again about the position. Of course, we have to remember Richardson is a true freshman, Patterson is a fifth year senior with not a ton of production at USC and WR Toney Clemons still has some things to prove but on paper, the talent certainly looks there. Last year, fans were counting on Andre Simmons to single handily improve the position, now it seems like CU has options if one guy doesn't work out. Scotty McKnight will be Mr. Reliable, Will Jefferson showed well last year as a true freshman and Kyle Cefalo gets plenty of mention from his teammates. Yes, much to prove on the field like most positions but it seems like Colorado is in a better spot than last year, even without Simas.
Worried about running back, so is everyone else. Justin Torres is getting some good pub but if Rodney Stewart can't carry the load for the full year, which has been an issue in the past, who knows where the Buffs' O will go.
The key to the offense this year is the play of the center, the right tackle and the left guard. Currently, Keenan Stevens is slotted at center, Bryce Givens at right tackle and Ethan Adkins at left guard. Many people want to get excited about the Buffs offense because OT Nate Solder and Ryan Miller make up 40% of the starting line on the All Big 12 team but there is a reason why Colorado was near the bottom in many of the offensive categories a year ago. Circle these three positions and watch them closely against Colorado State. If offensive line coach Denver Johnson can get production out of them, CU may surprise some people this year.
Extremely excited about TE DaVaughn Thornton. It would be hard for me to imagine that they won't find some use for him this year as an offensive weapon. If the wide receivers can widen the field this season (something they haven't done in the past) and move the safeties out of the box, DaVaughn Thornton running seam routes could be a bread and butter type of play. The key for any tight end is the ability to block and that is something Thornton will have to prove this season.
Defensive line is still a worry for me. Josh Hartigan got the nod over Forrest West and Nick Kasa at starting defensive end but I think the injury to Forrest got him a little behind and he should be in the starting mix by the time Colorado State comes around. Love the work ethic and leadership of Curtis Cunningham, think Will Pericak showed great progress last year but was really hoping Nate Bonsu would have been slotted at one of the inside spots. Again, might be due to the offseason injury but Bonsu certainly had some flashes last year. Again, another unit that has some talent but we just need to see production. If Kasa, Marquez Herrod and West can cause some havoc on the edge this year, the defense will improve dramatically.
Seems like we have been waiting for Jon Major to show up #1 on the depth chart for a while now and then you look at the roster and he is only a sophomore. I am very excited to see Major and B.J. Beatty on the field together. Beatty is listed behind Tyler Ahles right now but probably a result of the injury. He should be out there often for Colorado State. Again, looks to be solid depth on paper, just need the production & consistency this year especially from players like Michael Sipili.
Love, love, love the cornerback position. CB's Jalil Brown and Jimmy Smith both have the ability to be All Big 12 players. Don't look down the depth chart past Brown and Smith because the rest of the corners are extremely inexperienced but in a Big 12 conference that lost a bunch of quality quarterbacks from a year ago and a little bit of it's explosiveness, CU looks to be very solid at corner barring injury. It will be interesting to watch the safety position. Parker Orms and true freshman Terrel Smith have impressed this fall. Orms will definitely see time this year. S Ray Polk is still learning the position which can lead to some big plays. Certainly feel better about the corner spot over the safeties but Colorado does have some options and talent back there.