Star Power: RB Bobby Purify, 6-2, 220-pound senior; QB Joel Klatt, 6-1, 210, junior; TE Joe Klopfenstein, 6-5, 240, junior.
Notable Additions: Abraham Wright, 6-3, 240 Juco transfer.
Notable Subtractions: RB Brian Calhoun, DB Sammy Joseph, DE Marques Harris, transfers; WR D.J. Hackett, WR Derek McCoy, LB Sean Tufts, graduation
Notable Returnees: DT Matt McChesney, 6-4, 285, senior; LB Brian Iwuh, 6-1, 220, junior, S J.J. Billingsley, 5-11, 190, junior, OG Brian Daniels, 6-4, 285, sophomore.
Offensive Overview: Klatt brings stability to the Colorado offense as both a passer and a manager of CU's West Coast system. However, he'll be working with a bevy of wide receivers that includes just one player with experience, senior Ron Monteilh. CU needs a couple of its talented, but untested receivers to prove themselves in August. The running game should be strong with the return of 5th-year senior Bobby Purify, as well as five other backs who the coaches think can help this season. Tight end is another strong point as Klopfenstein could be among the best in the Big 12 at the position. The offensive line looked better this past spring than it did in some games in 2003, a good sign.
Defensive Overview: After a dismal showing in 2003, Coach Gary Barnett fired coordinator Vince Okruch and replaced him with Mike Hankwitz, who brings a flexible 4-3 scheme to the Buffs, a squad that ran the 4-2-5 the past two seasons. Still, CU will be young in the secondary, where only Billingsley has extensive experience. The linebackers will be young, but could emerge as a strength on the defense. The defense line should also be good, led by junior workhorse James Garee at one end and McChesney in the middle. Colorado needs to get more pressure on the quarterback and keep from giving up the big pass play, something they failed miserably at last season.
Special Teams Overview: Returner Jeremy Bloom is hoping the NCAA will allow him to play in 2004 after he took endorsements for his skiing exploits to help fund his quest for a gold medal in the 2006 Olympics in freestyle skiing. The Buffs are planning on being without Bloom, however, but should be fine in the return game if redshirt-freshman Stephone Robinson can live up to his potential. Both P John Torp and PK Mason Crosby are solid, sometimes spectacular in the kicking game.
The Buffs can win eight games and earn a bowl berth this season if... the defense can overcome its youth and keep from giving up the long touchdown that killed them so often in 2003. Colorado will need to get back to a balanced attack on offense as well, after relying on the pass last season. Also, it's unclear yet how a tumultuous offseason will affect the Buffs on the field in the fall, but the controversy surrounding the team seems to have drawn them closer together.
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