Behind McCartney and Gilbert, in order, are freshman Christian Shaver, redshirt freshman Timothy Coleman, sophomore De'Jon Wilson and freshman Michael Mathewes.
"They'll make their mistakes being (mostly) freshmen," MacIntyre said. "But I think they're all good enough and athletic enough to play."
One of the biggest question marks for those outside of the program resides at defensive end. The team lost veteran Tyler Henington for the year to an ACL tear during Friday’s practice. As a result of his absence, the top six spots on the depth chart at the position are occupied by freshmen and sophomores who have combined for just one total start (Jimmie Gilbert) in a Colorado uniform.
The Buffs probably aren’t getting to the promised land without more of that this season. Here are six Buffs who could play a pivotal role in this season’s team beating expectations and making bowl season relevant again here in Boulder.
MacIntyre said the running back position will see several players receiving reps depending on who has the "hot hand", but it will also be heavily determined on a situational basis and vary among opponents depending on different matchups.
Yet, with an experienced and confident coaching staff, a better and more physical pool of talent, a healthy mindset and a schedule that is fairly favorable, these Buffs have a shot at being busy in December for the first time in seven years.
"It's what you believe," he said of CU's potential for success. "If you don't believe it, you can't achieve it. So, I'm not setting our goals anywhere but going 1-0 and then going 1-0 the next week and winning every game we play." For many, the final win total will be the ultimate way to judge CU's progression as a program. However, there are other areas to look at in measuring the on-field progress of the Buffs.
It will be interesting to see how the Colorado running game unfolds this fall. There is more depth and talent along the offensive line, and a more experienced quarterback behind center – which could translate into a rushing attack which will be better than what CU produced last fall (120.8 yards per game, 108th in the nation).
Buff fans can also make a pretty good guess at which players will be trotting out onto the field for the first series against Colorado State, but you never know. So let’s take a look at a projected two-deep for the CU roster, with comments concerning each unit.
Gillam would like to become an All-American this season and an All-Pac-12 Conference player a year after being unanimously chosen as a freshman All-American following a season in which he became the first freshman in CU history to lead the team in tackles.
Bell’s injury ramped up Clark’s camp project of having all the defensive backs learn all secondary positions. "We’re in the process of double-teaching everybody," he said. "We’ve got corners playing nickel, nickels playing safety, safeties playing some corner . . . we’re just going to rotate (personnel) and get a good feel for it for the next week.
"I think we're better prepared, but it doesn't matter until you're actually in the game," Neinas said. "Obviously I didn't work last year to have us poorly prepared, but I had us poorly prepared. "Right now, I do feel better, but the proof will come out on Friday."
Nobody outside of Dal Ward truly expects the Buffs to achieve a bowl appearance in 2014. This year was always going to be another building block in the MacIntyre era's foundation. However, if equaling last year's tally is expected, then getting one more is attainable. If these players are running out behind Ralphie on November 29th with five wins on the shelf, well, anything can happen.
6. Colorado: It probably won’t show up on the scoreboard, but the Buffs will be better this fall than they have been the past three years. With a few breaks, CU could sneak into fifth place, and perhaps fourth. There are wins available in the South.
No athletic director in CU history has raised funds of more than $15 million in a single year or received a single gift of more than $5 million. Last month, Rick George did both, meeting a crucial goal: When the regents approved the project in December 2013, they stipulated that the department must raise roughly one third of the costs, or $47.6 million
"I see the work ethic, the attitude. I see the responsibility and accountability," MacIntyre said of the outlook for his team. "So to me that shows me we're heading in the right direction. Now they've got to do it in the heat of the moment and do it in the games."
Colorado has not kept up offensively with the competition for more than a decade, stretching back to its days in the Big 12. Colorado has failed to complete a season with more total points than the opposition since 2005, when Gary Barnett's final team went 7-6 and outscored its foes 295-288. That is also the last time CU had a winning record.
"There is nothing out there that is the lightning idea that is going to bring the students in," George said this summer. "We've just got to really engage the students more. We met with the tri execs over the summer to try to work with them on creative ways that we can get students into the game, on time and keep them here.
Pope: Yes I'm saying it, CSU football better off than rival Colorado - Rocky Mountain Collegian | Rocky Mountain Collegian - Yea, whatever you say, brah.
Colorado State coach Jim McElwain Friday said that the Rams’ worst fears about senior tackle Mason Hathaway have been confirmed: Hathaway’s knee injury is considered season-ending, and he soon will undergo surgery.