Sun Devils to Face Rebuilding Buffaloes

The 2006 season saw Colorado struggle and finish with a 2-10 record. Improvement is naturally expected the following year, and Buffaloes Head Coach Dan Hawkins, believes that his squad is much different than the one who lost to ASU 21-3 in Boulder last year. Hawkins addressed the ASU reporters on Monday afternoon.

"We sort of had to rebuild this thing from scratch and was kind of a complete remodel to some degree," said Hawkins. "Just because everything that had gone on here in the past…just rebuilding an identity, a foundation…getting philosophies on the ground. That's nothing against Gary (former CU coach Gary Barnett) or anything like that, it was just the nature of what was going on here."

"We spent last year pouring concrete and laying down exactly what this whole thing needs to look like…I think our guys have a full understanding of that. We're still very young in many areas. We suited up on Saturday 60 guys that never played college football."

Compared to last year, the Colorado Head Coach believes his team is more self assured. "(we) Have much more clear vision of who we are and what we're trying to get done. Much better leadership. In terms where we are mentally, it's not even the same category at all."

The Buffaloes squeaked by tier in-state rival Colorado State 31-28 in overtime. After leading 17-14 in the half, they found themselves down 28-17 in the waning moments of the third quarter. A strong comeback ultimately secured the first win of the season for Colorado. "We had a pretty clean first half offensively, and not necessarily second half," said Hawkins as he described the flow of that contest. "We didn't have a clean performance on defense the first half, but the second half…it was good for a club, as young as they are to be down by 11 and come back and have a chance to win the football game. The maturity signs are there, but we definitely have a long way to go."

Hawkins' son Cody Hawkins, started his first game ever at quarterback, and with a 18-31 performance for 201 yards, two TD's and one INT, the CU Head Coach stated that his son's performance was fairly efficient at times, along with some "ill-advised moments." He did mention that he's impressed with his quarterback's maturity, but is probably not that much of a surprise growing in the family environment that he did. He added that he doesn't feel anything extra special in coaching his son because "I treat all my players as my kids."

One of the only positives in the Buffaloes 2006 campaign was there rush defense, which gave up just 112 yards on average, and was one of the better units in college football. Against Colorado State CU surrendered 157 yards. "They did give up a decent amount of yards," Hawkins admitted. "Technically when you look at it, the yards per carry was 2.8, which in the big picture isn't always telling. There were certainly times where they ran the ball well. A lot of that comes from a few gap errors here and there, mental errors – something that isn't characteristically done by our teams, and we generally did a good job against the run."

Aside from offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, another former ASU assistant coach, quarterbacks coach Mark Helfrich, will also be making his return to Tempe on Saturday. "He's very smart and meticulous coach, and we're very fortunate to have him," Hawkins said of Helfrich. "I thought last year was interesting, because as abysmal as we were offensively, he did a masterful job coaching. With what we had to work with and we had to do on Saturdays – it was amazing."

"This year, we have three quarterbacks – none of them have taken a snap in a Division I game, and again he has done a nice job teaching them the fundamentals. Looking at what all those guys do and able to design things that fit their personality and their physical make-up. It's one thing to say we have great schemes, but they have to work for the individual. He's very smart about putting all those things together."

In regards to his next opponent, Hawkins commented: "Typical Dennis Erickson team. Very sound, good running attack, quarterback, good receivers. They give you a lot of problems defensively, not making a lot of errors. Have never coached against Dennis, but am definitely familiar with him…doesn't surprise me that he has them playing well."

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