It is hard to believe the season is already over, it seems like yesterday the Buffs were just getting ready to start the all important fourth season under Dan Hawkins. As we embark on the fifth season of the era, their are a few things on the top of my mind that I would like to see addressed this offseason to turn the Buffs from a "competitive" team to a winning team. Here is a short list, of course, this will be grow but right now, it is what I am thinking about this Saturday afternoon.
Solidify the recruiting class - I love QB Nick Hirschman, RB Mister Jones and QB Munchie Legaux. If there is anyway to get Hirschman enrolled in January, make it happen. The Buffs' need to keep these three players and now go find depth at defensive line, safety and offensive line. A good place to start is with DT Harold Legania who is Munchie Legaux and Keenan Canty's teammate at Edna Karr in Louisiana. A few speedsters would be welcome as well. The Buffs have already received word that Colorado Prep QB Danny Spond has re-opened his commitment, something that was rumored for a while now.
Address the special teams issue - it's been four years and it isn't working. Last year, the Ralphie Report noted over 80 points the poor special teams play was accountable for giving up whether it was a turnover, poor coverage, penalties, etc. Over the past two years, the special teams unit has given up seven touchdowns directly. The Buffs' aren't good enough to give up non-offensive touchdowns.
Players in the trenches need to get stronger, tougher and focused - penalties, missed assignments, physically manhandled at times. It's gut check time for the players on the offensive line. This team will go the way they go in 2010.
Hire an assistant coach that brings intensity, motivation and let him do his thing - I long for a Bo Pelini moment on the sideline, a few F-bombs like Josh McDaniels does to motivate his players. Hawk might not think this is the right way to do things but in three years these two coaches took over programs/organizations that were less than competitive themselves and their combined records are 25 - 11. Winning is the "right way" and football is an intense sport.
Modify the strategy to feature the player, not fit the player to the strategy
To Hawkins: No more abstract statements, no more unrealistic quotes, make us and the players believe again - it was a rough year for Dan Hawkins both on- and off-the-field, whether it was "we''ll see" answers to questions or "10 wins, no excuses", a 3-9 record, telling reporters they must not have kids, suggesting people who criticize as never having faced adversity in life, to "get your horns", to closing spring practice because of measly practice reports we "internet scum" put on the net.
I hope their is some retrospective moments this offseason about ways you can motivate the players, answer questions in the media, embrace the fan base and most important, find ways to win. Your job, coach, is to never hear from your players that "they don't have confidence" or that they "lack energy on the road". Your one job, regardless of what you believe, all centers around you getting your players to show up. Get back to the details and the focus required to win in the Big 12.
Own this next season and the results than come with it, refuse to keep saying "we just need to cinch a few things up." It is long overdue for accountability, something you try to teach your players but have a hard time buying into yourself. Demand the problems be fixed!
I would suggest asking Josh McDaniels if you can take in some Denver Broncos' practices, go to Florida during bowl preparations and view the structure of the Gators, maybe run up to USC on a recruiting trip and take in the practices. I know we can agree on one thing and that is you never stop learning and developing as a person.
We want to believe in you coach Hawkins, just like we did when you signed here four years ago.