CU Media Day: 2001

3-8 in 2000? Am I suddenly in Stillwater, Oklahoma reporting on the OSU Cowboys?

Unfortunately or fortunately I'm not. I'm in Boulder, Colorado and for the first time in the ten years that I have covered this football team, they are coming off a very un-buffalo like 3 win season. It was the Buffs worst record in 16 seasons.

But when you talk to the players on the 2001 University of Colorado football team, last season is forgotten and it's time to focus on the present. They have learned from last years dismal season and believe they have the experience and ability to give the Big 12 big boys a run for the title.

"Last season we let go of a tradition the Buffaloes have. 3 and 8 is unacceptable," said star running back Marcus Houston.

"In the Big 12 conference we have to play stronger than we did. We have to go out this year and keep in mind that our goal is not to compete, but to win and uphold the tradition that has been established at this University."

Those are not typical expectations of a football team that lost to Kansas and Iowa State in 2000. But this is not a typical 3-8 football team. For the first time in several years, the Buffaloes have a strong senior class and return a total of 18 starters and 50 lettermen. The last time the Buffs returned that many starters was in 1996 and that team went 10-2, 7-1 in the Big12.

Another key was star-players not bolting to the NFL. LB Jayson Sykes and TE Daniel Graham decided to stay for their senior year and not leave the program with a bitter taste in their mouths. That kind of experience is invaluable.

QB Craig Ochs knows how big it is to this team to have those guys back. "We have a tremedious senior class, that boosts are confidence so much." "Those guys have played three or four years. They are tremedious football players and vocal leaders and that's what this team needs."

If experience was all the Buffs needed, I'd be booking tickets right now for Dallas for the Big 12 championship game. But they need more than help than that.

They need to improve in the secondary (finished 11th in pass defense in the conference), kicking game (4 missed or blocked fieldgoals vs Nebraska and a missed 28 yard FG against USC that cost them big time) and avoid the injuries that plagued them in 2000 (CU players lost 101 games due to injuries last season).

If they can do these things, the team could have a big year. The players talked about learning from losing, but the real test will come on the field. It's been years since CU has won a "big game" and they need to re-establish themselves as a Big 12 power.

UCLA transfer and brother of Marcus, LoVell Houston sat out last season and watched. He should be awarded for that alone.

"Last year is behind us and we learned from it. That might be one of the most dangerous things, coming off a 3-8 season. We want to win badly and when you look at the talent level we have, we could be capable of big things".

We'll soon find out how much they learned. School is in session vs pass happy Fresno state August 26th.

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