Thursday, July 13, 2017
Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Colorado Buffaloes
Colorado finally turned a major corner under Mike MacIntyre last fall, and depsite some off-field drama involving some allegations on how a sexual assault case was handled, everything looks to be headed in the right direction for this program. Some key pieces are gone on both sides of the football, but there seems to be enough talent on hand to make another run at the South title this fall. Will the Buffaloes that are new starters in key positions be able to gel quickly enough to make that happen?
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Phillip Lindsay returned for his senior season at RB, and should be a key focal point on offense for the Buffs in 2017.He rushed for 1252 yards and 16 TDs last fall, all while averaging 5.13 yards per carry. He also caught 53 passes out of the backfield, so he is a weapon that should surely be used to excess.
The top four WRs return for the Buffaloes this fall, and Lindsay would include a fifth top receiver. Shay Fields, Devin Ross, Bryce Bobo, and Jay MacIntyre all return to the fold, and each of them caught at least 30 passes last season. Fields was the leader with 56 receptions for 833 yards and nine scores. Ross posted 69-787-5, Bobo posted 44-548-2, and MacIntyre posted 32-412-1.
The line is in good shape from Center to the left, with three seniors starting in CJonathon Huckins, LG Gerrad Kough, and LT Jermoy Irwin.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
The QB spot should be OK in the hands of Steven Montez, but he will have to be the full time starter and star this season. He played well enough in his time on the field last fall, but we will now get to see him fully on display. One concerning area of play for him was his TD:INT ratio. He tossed nine TDs, but also tossed five INTs.
The right side of the line will be young and thin this fall, as a pair of sophomores project to start in RG Tim Lynott and RT Aaron Haigler.
The Buffs used three different PKs last fall. A key to the season will be deciding on just one in 2017. James Stefanou, a freshman, is projected to get the job over returnee Chris Graham.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
There is no doubt that the Buffs got hammered on losses on defense after the season, and lost a ton of top flight talent. They also lose DC Jim Leavitt, which we will talk about in a moment.
There are still some pieces left over that the defense can build upon. Rick Gamboa returns at ILB, and finished second in tackles last season with 76. He also finished with three PBUs. Ryan Moeller was also productive at the BUFF position, finishing with 64 tackles.
Isaiah Oliver is back at CB, and finished last season with seven PBUs. He will be the new star in a secondary that was hammered with lost personnel.
Alex Kinney is back at Punter, and had a solid season, averaging just over 41 yards per punt.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
The losses are big. Here is a list: Jimmie Gilbert, Tedric Thompson, Ahkello Witherspoon, Kenneth Olugbode, Chidobe Awuzie, Samson Kafovalu, Jordan Carroll, and Josh Tupou. Very few teams are armed to make up for those sorts of losses, and that group had a huge amount to do with moving Colorado up the charts from a team that had been 5-40 in PAC-12 play, to a team that played in a PAC-12 title game last fall. Finding immediate replacements for them will not be easy, and replacing Jim Leavitt as the DC is going to very tough as well. This is not an enviable task.
2017 Schedule: 9/1 at Colorado State (@Denver), 9/9 Texas State, 9/16 Northern Colorado, 9/23 Washington, 9/30 at UCLA, 10/7 Arizona, 10/14 at Oregon State, 10/21 at Washington State, 10/28 California, 11/4 at Arizona State, 11/11 USC, 11/25 at Utah
I believe that Colorado willnot have enough in the tank to take USC in the South again in 2017. I think that this is a very good, well coached football team that will push very hard, and ultimately will challenge for second or third place in the South. I think that if we are being real, this should be the expectation. I do also believe that Colorado is probably a year away from challenging for the conference title again, and some pieces that wil lbe in play on the roster this season wil lbe those players who gain experience this season to challenge next. Still, the Buffs are going to be a very difficult team to beat.