Last season, the Tigers laid their biggest whooping of the year on the Colorado Buffaloes. The 58-0 beating was the most dominant game of the season for a struggling Mizzou defense and it was the largest margin of victory of the season. As we move to 2009, a lot has changed for both Colorado and Missouri. This years' game will take place in Boulder where a hopefully improved Buffaloes team will be waiting to redeem themselves.
Cody Hawkins has been the much-maligned quarterback of the Buffs for the last 2 seasons and many fans are skeptical in his ability to lead this team to a bowl berth as a junior. In his 2 year tenure at Colorado, he has been bad because of the mistakes he has made (27 interceptions), but he has show the ability to make good throws and play well in spurts. Will he be more consistent this year? Can he make the next step forward in his development as a starter in the Big XII? I think he wont be as bad as he has been in the past 2 years just because he has more experience now, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that he will breakthrough as a top QB in the nation this season. Tyler Hansen could see some playing time if Hawkins continues to disappoint.
If Hawkins (or Hansen) cannot produce quality offensive numbers from the quarterback position, a lot of the offensive burden will fall on sophomore running back Darrell Scott. Even if Hawkins does find his way this year, Scott will be a key component to the Buffs' offensive attack. This 6-1, 200-pounder is dripping with talent and Colorado fans hope it is only a matter of time before he bursts on to the national scene. Even with all the talent, there is no guarantee that he can produce at the college level. With that said, it should be a pretty good bet that he will be at least serviceable, if not spectacular, this season. Rodney Stewart was fairly solid as a freshman last year, rushing for over 600 yards in just 9 games. The depth and developing talent here at running back should give Colorado a better chance to actually score a decent amount of points in 2009.
The team's most talented receiver, Josh Smith, is now looking to transfer to UCLA or USC, leaving the Buffs with little proven talent at wide receiver (Scotty McKnight is the only player with any previous experience on the team). McKnight was solid last year, hauling in 46 catches for 519 yards and 5 TD's. Markques Simas looks to be the top target for the Buffs after being a top recruit a couple of years ago. Simas has good height and could be a top target if Hawkins can find a good connection with him. Starting at tight end, Riar Geer will probably be the most reliable target for Colorado if he can stay healthy. His large frame will help the offense stretch the field by opening up the middle of the field. With Cody Hawkins being questionable at best, having no one explosive to connect with through the air could set the offense of Colorado back even more than last year.
The Buffs' starting left tackle Nate Solder stands at 6-9 and is very athletic. Ryan Miller was a top recruit a couple of years ago and should be a huge plus on the right side. Blake Behrens got some experience last year and shows a lot of tenacity. Overall, these guys are a pretty good ground and should be a solid aspect of the Buffaloes offensive attack. Because the front 5 looks to be the most solid part of the Colorado offense this season, other aspects of the unit could perform better than expected.
The defensive line wasn't very good last season and they lost their best player, George Hypolite, heading into this year. Senior Taj Kaynor will take over his defensive tackle position after only recording 2 tackles a year ago. Brandon Nicolas is also gone from the nose tackle position and replacing him will be the promising sophomore Eugene Goree. He weighs in at 295 pounds and has the potential to be a rock in the middle of the line for years to come. Marquez Herrod is a talented pass rusher, but he hasn't produced in previous years and hasn't shown that he can be the guy this season. Conrad Obi will start on the other side at defensive end, yet he doesn't seem to have much promise to have a positive effect this season either. This unit doesn't have much talent or experience and could be the downfall of the Buffaloes this year.
Jeff Smart may be undersized, but he has been a tackling machine as a starter and could be a star this season. Marcus Burton should be the man in the middle this year and he should be pretty solid there too. Burton wasn't very good last year, but his measurables are off the charts and he could be a star in the middle this year. B.J. Beatty is a 6-2 junior who should get an opportunity to start on the outside this year. Beatty has great talent, but should do a bit of learning on the job this season and should be ready to be great in 2010. This group could be very, very good this season or it could struggle to live up to it's potential. Either way, it will show flashes of greatness.
Jimmy Smith and Cha'pelle Brown make a good tandem at the cornerback spots which should help the overall performance of the defense. Smith has great measurables and performed well at the end of last year as a full-time starter. Brown is incredibly short (5-7) but was a great player during last season, recording 10 pass breakups. Anthony Perkins and Patrick Mahnke, both sophomores, will most likely get the nod at safety. Both players have a bit of experience, but also have a lot of talent to work with. They could make mistakes this season, but they could also add more to the good secondary that Colorado has already put together.
There are obviously a lot of question marks when talking about the Colorado Buffaloes this year. With that said, people are quietly confident in the Buff's chances to perform well this season because of the overall health and talent on the team this year. However, to think that this team could compete for the Big XII North crown is probably unrealistic considering the talent on Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. This late October game should be a pretty entertaining one and another good measuring stick to see how the Tigers are coming along as a young team in 2009.