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Saturday Buff Bites - It's Been More Bearish, Less Bullish For the Buffs This Week

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Offseasons definitely have their ups and downs and the 2009 one is no exception. The highlights have included signing Nick Kasa and 18 other future Buffs, receiving the pledge of former Michigan wide receiver Toney Clemons for the 2010 season, learning wide receiver Andre Simmons is progressing nicely in summer school and has a shot to be eligible, and staying relatively healthy across the board (my apologies to Max Tuioti-Mariner who suffered his third ACL tear - file under the low lights category). Optimism also formed around the additions of offensive line coach Denver Johnson (and his possible connections to Texas recruiting although that might take a year or two to bear fruit) and offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau who has been given the keys to the 95th ranked offense from a year ago. Everyone likes Kiesau now and everyone will love him if he can limit the number of end-around play calls and get the ball into the end zone, something the Buffs have done very little of the last three years.

But like any college program and especially for the Buffs in recent years, the offseason always has its challenges. The official Big 12 sports site has a cool piece up where the media ranked the top 10 games from 2008. At #10 was Colorado vs. West Virginia. Sign up for an account and you can watch the game. Check out the first two drives against West Virginia. I think former Colorado wide receiver Josh Smith touched the ball ten times. Then in the second half, he was on the bench, for any number of reasons that never made sense to me last year, but the guy had the potential. Not to go down that worm hole again of how big a loss you thought Josh Smith was but losing TE Ryan Wallace, WR Chance Blackmon, OL Devin Head, QB Matt Ballenger and Smith this offseason were definitely some of those tough moments. Missing out on potential wide receiver commits Markish Jones, Emory Blake and Diante Jackson at the time were downers. The Buffs also had turnover in the coaching staff with offensive line coach Jeff Grimes going to Auburn and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich to Oregon. Although, seen as a net positive in most minds as to who we got out of the deal in Johnson and Kiesau, change is stressful and unknown.

I am sure I am forgetting some other negatives and positives but you get the point. Yesterday, we received some more troubling news that in addition to 2009 commit OL Shaun Simon not qualifying academically for the upcoming season, heralded commit DT Edward Nuckols has also been deemed ineligible for next season. Who knows if Edward will re-up with the Buffs in 2010 after gray shirting (a nice term for sitting at home, not working out with teammates in Boulder) but we do know he won't be helping the defensive line in '09, something many felt he could do from day one. Let's face it, we were bound for letdown anyway if we expected Nuckols to be all-world as a freshman and anchor the defensive line. No freshman should be counted on as a "big piece" to the puzzle and in most people's minds, he had the potential to be a big piece.

No more for Nuckols. At least for 2009. 2010, we will see. Pouring salt on an open would be if WR Andre Simmons doesn't qualify. Once again, it is troubling to have to rely on the unknown and project greatness on the field the first week against Colorado State but that is what we wanted to believe with both Simmons and Nuckols. It would be bad cap to the offseason if Simmons is told "sorry, come back next year." Again, though, the problems at wide receiver and defensive line should have been addressed in 2007 and 2008, not counted on in 2009 but as fans, it's easy to believe the unknown "highly ranked by stars" player will transition those stars on the field and go for 10 sacks and 1,000 yards receiving in year one.

Then, here comes the preseason predictions. Yes, my grandma can give a preseason prediction and because of that, their is no merit to any of this hoopla that has been sweeping the papers. But it would be nice for a little more optimism going into the season. With the exception of Phil Steele who has been called "insane" by about every Kansas Jayhawks' fan for picking them fourth in the Big 12 North (the Buffs were picked second in a tie with Kansas State, making Missouri fifth), the general consensus is Colorado will be on the bottom side of the North, a fourth place finish has been deemed. Not that it was a surprise, it's just when you look at it all on paper, this should be the Buffs year to show results. Missouri and Nebraska return the fewest starters of any team in the Big 12. They are both breaking in new quarterbacks and have holes to fill on both sides of the ball. Kansas has the gauntlet schedule. On the flip side, Colorado has it's easiest non-conference schedule in years and it's easiest for the foreseeable future. They play Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas at home in Folsom with revenge on the mind in all three: they could have beat Kansas last year, should have beat Nebraska and Missouri has used the Buffs as a stat padding game the last two years but now have to reload and look a little more vulnerable.

But not many are buying what our Buffs have to offer. I can see why based on past results, winning only twice on the road in the past three years (one legitimate against the Texas Tech Red Raiders), question marks at a few positions  and an overall lack of flash, firepower, identifiable commodities like a Sam Bradford, Dez Bryant,etc. I am more bullish on Cody Hawkins than most, more bearish on the our issues at a position called play makers, wide receiver and defensive line.

Most think six wins, some think seven, plenty think five is more likely than eight and above. I have seen as low as three wins. Everyone is playing on the safe side with the Buffs and that pick is look at the past and project to the future...five to six wins.  Vegas has Colorado pegged at 6.5 wins, I can't say I am drooling on either side of that line.

No one has ever won a national championship in the offseason or in the preseason media poll, every one is 0 - 0. That is the positive for the Buffs.

Stating the obvious, it's time to buck the mediocre trend that has become the expectation for Colorado outside the state of Colorado and it's fan base around the nation. This is the year to do it or is it? One can hope.

Tons of great Buff Bites after the jump including articles on why it is crazy to think Nebraska is back, how Cody Hawkins feels this upcoming season could be special, WR Terdema Ussery and WR Jarrod Darden impressing and why five years of eligibility makes sense.

Colorado_mediumCody Hawkins feeling good about 2009 | The Buffzone Blog
Kyle Ringo had a chance to catch up with Cody Hawkins.

"So I’m excited about that. Finally, you know, when you take talent, depth and experience are really important to winning ball games, and any time you can put those three together, you’re going to have a chance to win. Last year we had a lot of talent, but, I mean, depth and experience are hard to find. This year I think we’re going to be in great shape and I’m excited about it.

Colorado_mediumTwo FB Recruits' Enrollment Delayed - CUBuffs.com
Just in case you haven't read the article on Josh Moten and Edward Nuckols not making it through the clearing house yet and in Nuckols case, being deemed ineligible for the 2009 season. It looks like Moten might be okay but he cannot participate in offseason drills until the paperwork issues have been cleared up and has officially deemed eligible.

Colorado_mediumBrooks: Frosh WRs Eager, Able - CUBuffs.com
According to B.G. Brooks at cubuffs.com, true freshman wide receivers Terdema Ussery and Jarrod Darden have made a good impression on their teammates thus far in offseason camps, including Scotty McKnight who takes a shot at former Buff wide receivers when comparing them to the newbies:

"Both guys have really taken in trying to learn everything, unlike other receivers in the past. These guys are really kind of entrenched already, trying to get as much of the offense in as they can before camp. "Both of them look physically ready to be playing college football – big, strong, fast kids. The mental side usually is the toughest part, but it looks like both are taking it in stride – and we’re going to need them. Hopefully that keeps going through camp.

Colorado_mediumHawkins Wins Accuracy Competition At Elite 11 Camp - CUBuffs.com
In some tough competition, Cody Hawkins won a pretty cool competition among quarterbacks at the Elite 11 Camp.

Colorado_mediumMedia pick OU-UT tie and Nebraska to win Big 12 divisions - Big 12 - ESPN
As noted above the Buffs were picked fourth in the Big 12 North by the media.

Colorado_medium2008 Greatest Games - Big 12 Conference
A great way to get you excited for the 2009 season is to watch the first couple of series against West Virginia. That was a good couple of minutes, going up 14 - 0 on the Mountaineers on our way to a week three victory.

Colorado_mediumWoelk: Important numbers for CU this year - Boulder Daily Camera
Neill Woelk thinks it is time for the Buffs to show results on the field, not just off the field. He also highlights a few important numbers for the 2009 season like selling out games, not losing contests by 20+ points and finding more season ticket holders.

Colorado_mediumThese are the players that Big 12 teams can't afford to lose - Big 12 - ESPN
Tim Griffin of ESPN think LB Jeff Smart is a player the Buffs cannot afford to lose for the upcoming season:

Colorado: LB Jeff Smart. The Buffaloes could withstand the loss of a quarterback like Cody Hawkins or a running back like Darrell Scott because of the depth at those positions. But the Buffaloes would be hard-pressed to replace Smart, considering their lack of senior leadership on the defense.

With all due respect to Tim and Jeff, I think the Buffs have great depth at linebacker, enough to feel confident in a 3 - 4. There is even hints that Jeff Smart might be in a tough competition for a starting job due to the depth. It is a tough job to place a player under the category of "can't lose" for this team but I think better choices would have been either of our safeties (who else do we really have behind them that is ready - I don't think Ray Polk is ready), Ryan Miller, Cody Hawkins, Scotty McKnight probably would have been a better choice considering our lack of proven commodities at wide receiver.

Colorado_mediumNebraska Isn't Back Yet | Campus Corner
Mike DeArmond of the Kansas City Star still thinks Nebraska has a ways to go before they should be considered the Big 12 North favorites. Here’s where I shake my head in wonder at anyone picking Nebraska over Missouri but over Kansas as well. The Cornhuskers have an inexperienced quarterback, lost just as much as Missouri on offense, don’t have a running back of the caliber of MU’s Derrick Washington. Shouting The Blackshirts Are Back! seems based more on the hope that Bo Pelini is a defensive genius rather than a first-year college head coach that was simply better than Bill Callahan.

Colorado_mediumWoelk: Five years of eligibility makes lots of sense : Top Stories : Boulder Daily Camera
I've always thought that moving to five years of eligibility was a good idea. More degrees, less confusion with medical redshirts. I'd love to see it happen. For the last couple of years, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has been trying to marshall support for a proposal that would give college football players a fifth year of eligibility.

Colorado_mediumJaguars sign veteran defensive tackle, cut rookie tackle | Jacksonville.com
Former Buff DL George Hypolite was cut by the Jaguars.

The Jaguars also waived rookie defensive tackle George Hypolite, an undrafted rookie from Colorado who signed with the team following the April draft.

Colorado_mediumCollege Football Countdown: Nos. 51-55  - Washington Times

No. 54: COLORADO After three losing seasons, a 13-24 record and one bowl berth (an Independence Bowl loss to Alabama in 2007), just what has Dan Hawkins learned about coaching at Colorado? Well, it's Division I football. It's the Big 12. It ain't intramurals. Fun rants from coaches in the heartland aside, the Buffaloes should be better and could well be a sneaky division contender if they can survive a brutal early October stretch. The Buffaloes finally have some experience at quarterback. Their tailback tandem of Rodney Stewart and Darrell Scott is superb. And they get Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri --- the three presumptive favorites in the Big 12 North --- in Boulder. If the defense gets better --- and not having to contend with Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas Tech for the second straight year won't hurt in that regard --- Colorado might just outdistance the mediocre prognostications it is receiving.

Colorado_mediumCU releases schedules for women's, men's hoops - Boulder Daily Camera
The Buffs basketball team has released its schedule for the upcoming season. It is highlighted by a trip to the Maui Invitational, with the big boys, and 11 conference games in all slated for television so far, including eight on Big 12 Network syndication, two on ESPNU and one on ESPN2.

Colorado_mediumRams picked sixth in Mountain West | Out of Bounds
The Colorado St. Rams were picked to finish sixth in the Mountain West.

Colorado_mediumBoise State to the Mountain West? Perhaps - ESPN