Scouting Report: Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins is a true character and he celebrated his birthday this week. "Yes, I got a fruitcake for my birthday," said Hawkins at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. "I am one of the original fruitcake lovers. The good thing in being in a family of six is that I'm the only one that likes fruitcake, so it is the gift that keeps on giving. It is never gone."

Hawkins is a survivor and his team adopted that personality last week coming from behind to win 28-24 and stopping Iowa State running back Alexander Robinson from the Buffs half-yard-line on the final play of the game with a tackle for a three-yard loss on an option play.

Overall, Colorado is solid on defense, especially with its pass defense. On offense they have been inconsistent and have played two quarterbacks for the past month, the original and returning starter and coach's son, Cody Hawkins, and freshman run/pass quarterback Tyler Hansen. Special teams have been poor with the kickers hitting only 4-of-14 field goal tries, a large deficit on kickoff returns, and a rarity at Colorado as they have been out-punted by the opposition.

It looks like it is back to Cody Hawkins as the starter this week, but Hawkins says you can expect Tyler Hansen to play some too. Hawkins led the Buffs to 28 second-half points in the win over Iowa State. He threw for a couple of scores and on the season has completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,412 yards with a 15-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Hansen has only passed for 280 yards and has a 1-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but Hansen has run for 250 yards and a 4.2-yards per carry average. He is certainly a change up at the position.

With freshman Rodney Stewart out with a torn ACL more highly touted freshman Darnell Scott moves into the position, but he is nursing a bad ankle. Scott has carried 85 times for 344 yards and a touchdown.

The Colorado receiving corps is led by Scotty McKnight, Patrick Williams and Josh Smith. McKnight has 38 catches including two touchdowns against Iowa State. Williams has 28 receptions and Smith has 26 catches and three touchdowns. The offensive line is big and young. There is a sophomore and two redshirt freshmen on a line that averages 6-5, 303 pounds.

Dan Hawkins on how to fix Colorado 's offense: "We've kind of explored as many options as we can; we put defensive lineman on the offensive line, we've switched out quarterbacks. I do think overall there is a philosophy, in terms of what it is we're trying to do and what we totally believe in. We've had to adapt and adjust that a little bit, but trying not to get too out of whack. It's not like you're going to funnel your whole system out, it's not the plays. If you had a wishbone guy, a run-and-shoot guy, a West Coast guy, and a spread guy, all in a room, they would all get in a fist fight about what's the best way to move the football; and none of them are wrong and none of them are right. What it's about is trying to perfect your system. What has obviously hurt us, in terms of perfecting our system, is that we have a bunch of guys in the training room; that gets harder and harder. I think what you do is you keep your moral going, you stay with your fundamentals, and keep working on your blocking and tackling and covering, and all of that. You look at [the Texas A&M] game and we had opportunities. The reason we didn't make the most of those opportunities, is when you have a team like ours, that kind of gets beat down a little bit or maybe not as confident as they ought to, those things escape them a little bit because they're not ready to seize the moment."

Hawkins on why QB Cody Hawkins still needs to be a part of the offense: "A lot of that, again, is just the experience and what we're trying to do with routes, reads, and checks; and some of the things he has to adjust to. I definitely think Tyler [Hansen] has come a lot farther; it was kind of exemplified a little bit in the game on Saturday. Some people might say, ‘Why wasn't Cody in there on the last drive?' There's some validity in that; Tyler had the hot hand and he just drove the team down. That's a lot of it, just trying to say, ‘What can he handle? What can he adjust to?' It's kind of all of those things and giving him a manageable package that he's comfortable with physically, mentally, and emotionally."

Hawkins on if the two-quarterback system is difficult for a team: "Totally, it is. Nobody ever likes the two-quarterback thing, including me, I don't. But it is what it is. I think getting Tyler [Hansen] into the package had to do with him having tremendous athletic ability and us needing that spontaneity in his ability to make plays with his feet and get things done when maybe it wasn't all there, in a sense. You just have to adjust a little bit as you go. Like I said, you don't like it; but the kids have done a good job adjusting to it, I think the coaches have done a good job adjusting to it, and you roll with it the best you can."

Going in this season I loved George Hypolite, the Buffs defensive tackle. Hypolite is a big-time leader and can make plays. Jeff Smart at the middle linebacker leads the team in tackles and is followed closely behind by safety Ryan Walters. Smart has 94 total tackles and Walters has 86 total stops. Walters and another active defender in left corner Cha'pelle Brown have the lead with two interceptions.
The Buffs do a solid job of defending the run allowing an average of 159.1 yards per game, but they realyl hold down the passing game with just 213.8 yards allowed per game.

The biggest problem is they allow 28 points per game and the offense is only averaging 19.4 points a contest.

Special Teams
It used to be Colorado was a perennial leader in special teams as the altitude made all their kicks fly farther. Not any more as starting kicker Aric Goodman is just 3-of-11 on field goals. The punter Matt DiLallo is averaging 40.5 yards a punt.

The returns are just okay with Josh Smith averaging 11.2 yards a punt return and 25.6 yards on kickoff returns.

Dan Hawkins on Aric Goodman being the permanent field goal kicker: "That's always the curious thing. I feel for him, he's missed [some] close ones, and he kicks pretty well in practice. But hey, Jameson [Davis] came in and kicked it and made it, so probably the natural tendency is to lean a little bit more toward Jameson and see how he does, and see how his leg holds up; see how his noggin is and all of that."

Hawkins on what happens to PK/P Jameson Davis' knee when he kicks the ball: "It irritates it worse and makes it more sore. That's the thing, he'll get inflammation in there and it will swell up and it just makes it not flexible, and uncomfortable for him to even kick-off. So that's why we've tried to reduce the amount of wear and tear on that thing. I don't know if it's a case of making it worse, per say long-term, in terms of his functionality where he is right now. There is more torque on there. When you're a kick-off guy it's more of a gradual build-up and kicking through the ball, you're not stopping and then trying to garner all of that momentum; so there's not the same torque on there."

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