The 2013 Colorado Buffaloes football team looks to have some talent, some potential, a few athletes, and a bunch of unknowns.
Okay, that's a little unfair since they're all athletes, but there are a few that could stand out. Mostly what I mean, is that we need to see serious improvement in these guys under the new coaching staff. There wasn't much of it before Embree & Co. got here, and while we saw some players finally make strides the last two seasons, it definitely wasn't enough. This includes guys coming back from injuries like Gus Handler and Paul Richardson. Even if they're good to go, physically, we need to see improved play out of them. Here are 3 guys I'd like to quickly mention as players I'm looking for serious improvement out of:
- On offense, we don't have a ton of speed. Gerald Thomas has good speed and we hope Jeffrey Thomas does as well, but there is only one guy with great speed: Paul Richardson. He's coming off a pretty big knee injury, but he will have had more than a year to recover by the time the season rolls around. The only issue there is if he has improved. Aside from one huge receiving game two years ago, he had a pretty modest season. Sure, he he was injured for a portion of the year, but even when he was healthy, he just wasn't that consistent. We need him to be a true deep threat all year. I don't need another record-setting game from him (though I wouldn't complain), I need him to show up every week and have an impact.
- Stephane Nembot is the main kid I was thinking about when I mentioned us having athletes at the beginning of this post. He's got all the athletic potential in the world, and we saw some flashes from him as he got playing time down the stretch in 2012. I know he's still pretty new to the game, but we no longer have Ryan Dannewitz to sub in for him on important downs. A couple of steps forward for him would be really good for the rest of the offensive line.
- Derrick Webb is a senior now and the leader of the linebacking corps with Jon Major and Doug Rippy graduating. Webb is one of the guys we have seen improve over the last two years, but he must continue to develop. He's one of the hardest hitters on the team, but he can't just be a big-play guy now. Webb is going to be counted on in all situations on defense, whether it's lining guys up or making the smart play (as opposed to the huge hit). He got a taste of that last season with the injuries that Major and Rippy were plagued with throughout the campaign, but they were still around and at least one of them playing just about the entire time. Not anymore. Webb is now the grey-beard out there.
I'll get into each of these guys even more as I go through the off-season positional breakdowns, but these three are going to be crucial to the entire team improving in 2013. We've got some players, but we need a coaching staff to finally get the most out of these guys. Here's hoping this one can.