A Look At Memorable Starting Debuts

When Colorado steps on to the field to play Colorado State Saturday, they'll have a quarterback making his debut as a starter in a CU uniform under center. How well redshirt freshman Cody Hawkins plays remains to be seen. In the meantime, here's a look at some notable first career start performances by Colorado quarterbacks, including Kordell Stewart.

2003: Joel Klatt
Klatt played 10 downs in 2002. But for all intents and purposes he was a greenhorn rookie on Aug. 30, 2003, when he took the field against the Rams. It was a big, pressure-packed debut. Colorado State came into the game ranked No. 23 in the nation. They boasted a long-haired skateboarder named Bradlee Van Pelt as their quarterback — a talented, but mouthy, senior who had led the Rams to a 10-4 record the season before.

The game was televised on ESPN, and played in front of 76,219 at Invesco Field. It remains the largest crowd to watch a college football game in the state's history.

And then it started raining. A lot.

But despite the big stage, the high stakes, the hyped gunslinger on the other sideline and the wet conditions, Klatt played like a pro. He connected on 21 of 34 passes for 402 yards and four touchdowns.

The Rams kept punching back, though. It took a final 75-yard drive engineered by Klatt to secure the victory.

Klatt was a walk-on. He earned national offensive player of the week honors for his effort in his starting debut.

2000: Craig Ochs
He grew up in the shadow of the Flatirons, going to CU games and rooting for the Buffaloes. It was a nice preface that led to a great first chapter.

The Buffs stumbled to an 0-5 record to begin the 2000 season. Ochs, a true freshman, was supposed to redshirt. By Game 4, however, Gary Barnett had had enough, and played Ochs in the second quarter. The Buffs lost the game against Kansas State, but Ochs played with poise and threw for 208 yards. It earned him a start in the next game.

But Ochs' starting debut was in one of the most difficult places for a road team to win in all of college football. No one expected the winless Buffs to march into Kyle Field at Texas A&M and come away with a victory, much less with a true freshman making his first career start.

But Ochs showed his magic, and led the Buffs to a 25-19 win. He threw for 239 yards and a touchdown in the game.

Two years later, a disgruntled Ochs would transfer to Montana, where he led them to a Division I-AA national title game.

1998: Mike Moschetti
Head coach Rick Neuheisel wanted some competition for a player who thought he had the starting quarterback job after John Hessler graduated. So Neuheisel signed a juco transfer named Mike Moschetti to compete with Jeremy Weisinger. Coming into fall camp, it was thought Moschetti would practice at quarterback to help sharpen Weisinger's game, then move to safety.

But Moschetti won the starting job. Weisinger soon transferred.

Like Klatt did in 2003, and Hawkins will Saturday, Moschetti led the Buffs against Colorado State in Denver (at the old Mile High Stadium) in his debut. Like they were in 2003, the Rams were favored. CU had come off a hugely disappointing 5-6 season.

Many thought Colorado State was primed to make it two in a row. But they simply weren't Ready for Moschetti.

The junior threw for 257 yards and three touchdowns, and the Buffs won 42-14.

After all the noise about the Rams leading up to the game, BuffaloNation let out a collective "CS-Who?"

1995: John Hessler
Hessler, a sophomore, came off the bench to relieve and injured Koy Detmer and help the Buffs defeat Texas A&M in the fourth game in 1995. The next week, in Norman, Okla., against the mighty Sooners, Hessler had the keys to the car.

Oklahoma was ranked No. 10, CU was at No. 4 in the polls. Hessler led the Buffs back from two 10-point deficits in the game. He completed just over 70 percent of his passes en route to 348 passing yards and five touchdowns.

By the fourth quarter, Hessler and the Buffs pulled away from the Sooners for a 38-17 victory.

1992: Koy Detmer
Detmer was a true freshman when he took the starting duties — making his starting debut — vs. Oklahoma on Oc. 17, 1992. He was subbing for an injured Kordell Stewart in the game.

Detmer is the only player on the list who didn't come away a winner in his starting debut. Instead, Mitch Berger kicked a 53-yard field goal to tie the game as time ran out. The final score was 24-24.

But Detmer's performance is notable because he threw for 418 yards, breaking Stewart's school record in the process. He was 33 of 50 on the day.

Also of note, though he didn't start the game (Duke Tobin started), Detmer came off the bench three weeks earlier and led CU to a victory on the road at Minnesota and earned national player of the week honors.

1992: Kordell Stewart
Stewart had played sparingly in two games in 1991 behind Darian Hagan. The true sophomore exploded in his first career start, the first game of the 1992 season vs. Colorado State in Boulder.

Stewart threw for a then-CU record 409 yards in his starting debut on 21 of 36 passes. His four touchdown passes tied Hagan's school record, as well.

The Buffs easily handled Colorado State 37-17.


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