If you look on our old site, you will see that Buffs fans chose quarterback Cody Hawkins as the player who will most dictate the success of the Colorado Buffaloes this year. Cody has been receiving high remarks from training camp this year, coming in stronger and having a year of experience under his belt. In the first scrimmage this year, Cody put up great numbers going 17-26 for 268 yards and 5 total touchdowns (3 passing, 2 rushing) and in the second scrimmage, he was strong again completing 17 passes out of 25 for 225 yards and 2 touchdowns with 1 interception. Entering his second year, there will be an expected improvement for Hawkins that will be needed to take the Buffs from a 6 win team in 2007 to a 7 - 8 win team with a very difficult schedule in 2008. What kind of improvement you ask, well luckily for us, the Big 12 has been deemed the best quarterback conference in college football this year so we can take a look at some of the best the Big 12 has to offer and see where Cody needs to improve. There are 7 quarterbacks in the Big 12 who we looked at that had played at least two years - Chase Daniels, Josh Freeman, Colt McCoy, Todd Reesing, Graham Harrell, Stephen McGee and Zach Robinson. Although some of these quarterbacks had limited action in their freshman/1st year, they all had extensive playing time in their 2nd year. Other than McGee, these quarterbacks are seen as some of the top players in the Big 12, if not the country. You can view the stats of all the quarterbacks mentioned above here. Below are the average statistics of these quarterbacks and where Cody needs to go in his sophomore year compared to the other QB's in the Big 12. Like I said before, this is a strong comparison sample.
By all accounts, Cody had a great year when you compare his freshman year with the other quarterbacks' freshman year in the Big 12. Most of the top quarterbacks listed didn't get extensive work, though, in their first year of eligibility so Cody has a leg up there. But looking at the chart and comparing Cody's freshman year to the 7 Big 12 quarterbacks 2nd year, the word consistency jumps off the page at me. Cody will have to become a more mature and consistent passer. The interception:touchdown ratio needs to get down to the 1:2.5 to 1:3 range. The Buffs had too many turnovers last year coming up -4 in the all important plus/minus stat. His completion percentage is also well below the average by about 7%. It's definitely not all negative for Cody either. His touchdown passes are very comparable as well as his passing yardage.
As the Buffs begin to open up the offense, I believe you will see Cody's numbers begin to flourish. Teams were able to game plan against a rather vanilla offense last year where the Buffs couldn't match the talent levels of most of the teams they played. The Buffs now have a wrinkle in their offense as Coach Hawkins begins to implement his Boise State style of play, throwing in a no-huddle and almost exclusively going out of the shotgun which is more of the offense Cody played in high school. Second and probably the most important reason that Cody will improve his statistics to join the upper echelon quarterbacks in the league is the talent he is now surrounded with. The Buffs have great WR's in Josh Smith and Scotty McKnight whom both provide something different in the Buffs' attack. If Patrick Williams turns to corner this year, you have three solid WR's with experience plus an experienced tight end in Riar Geer.
Cody also has a more versatile backfield. Last year, Hugh Charles could dazzle but he never was the dependable workhorse that the Buffs needed, often drawing criticism from the coaches. Demetrius Sumler and Darrell Scott will be instant improvements over last year while Rodney Stewart will be the surprise of the bunch. I can't wait for those outside of Boulder to see this kid run. For you Kansas State fans, he is about 5'7" and wears #43 if that rings a bell and he is exactly that type of player. Right now they are saying Stewart is ahead of both Polk and Scott.
The talent the Buffs have right now is definitely exciting. If Cody Hawkins can improve his numbers to be in line with the quarterbacks that came before him, we could be looking at a special year in Boulder.