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CGB Pre-Season: Colorado Roundtable

TwistNHook: Well, well, well, looks like the hunter has become the hunted.  And it looks like the cat burglar was caught by the very person trying to catch it.  

NorCalNick:  How ironic

TwistNHook:  For so long, Colorado wanted to be a part of the awesomeness known as the Pac10, when, in reality, they were going to have a cameo appearance anyway.  On 9.11.10, a rather unfortunate date, Cal takes on Colorado in the friendly confines of the frozen tundra of Memorial Stadium.  We get a sneak preview of our future bitter Pac12 rivals all before they fire Coach Dan Hawkins and, most likely, totally clean house.

Hopefully, Cal will be riding high off of its squeaker of a victory over powerhouse veterinary school UC Davis and can ride that momentum to a victory over the Buffs.  What are your guys thoughts?

Berkelium97:  I knew Colorado wasn't a very good team in recent years, but I didn't realize their last winning season was all the way back in 2005.  Since then they're 16-33.  They haven't won a road game since October 27th, 2007.

As bad as they've been, I remember being fairly impressed by them multiple times last season.  They had a lead at halftime over no. 2 Texas, they played tight games against Okie State and Nebraska, and they defeated a no. 17 (albeit highly overrated) Kansas team.

They seemed to split QB play between Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen, neither of whom appeared very good (50.6%-10TD-11INT, 55.8%-8TD-7INT, respectively).

All in all, this doesn't look like a team that will keep Tedford up at night.  Cal ought to give them a painful introduction to the new Pac-12.

Solarise:  Make no mistake - the Buffalos will compete.  They finished the 2009 season 1-3 in November, with their only win coming against Texas A&M 35-34 at home.  Their losses were by slim margins at Iowa State (10-17), at #12 Oklahoma State (28-31), and at home against the 2009 Holiday Bowl champs Nebraska (20-28).  Dan Hawkin's young 2009 squad went 1-2 against ranked opponents.  They won against #17 Kansas (34-30), rolled over at #2 Texas (14-38), and came back strong in Stillwater against the aforementioned #12 Cowboys.  

Led by sophomores QB Tayler Hansen and RB Rodney Stewart, the 2010 Buffalos might give the Bears some trouble.  Stewart (5-6,170) is a small back like Quizz Rodgers who is going to be tough to track down.  Their passing attack features leading WR Scotty McKnight (5-11,190) with big targets WR Markques Simas (6-2,215) and TE Riar Geer (6-4,250).

Passing Statistics
Tyler Hansen 129 231 1440 55.8 6.23 8 7 113.6
Rushing Statistics
Rodney Stewart 198 804 4.1 36 (TD) 9
Receiving Statistics
Scotty McKnight 76 895 11.8 56 (TD) 6
Markques Simas 43 585 13.6 58 3
Riar Geer 36 402 11.2 29 4

The good news for the Bears is that the Colorado OL doesn't appear to be stout.  In 2009 the Buffalos gave up 43 sacks (~8.5yds/sack) and 78 Tackles For Losses (6.5yds/TFL) in 12 games.  Their turnover margin was -6 after 12 games.  The Bears fans should expect to see first hand how Coach P's defense can take advantage and pressure a FBS opponent.

One final note to make is Colorado's kick return game.  Colorado sophomores Brian Lockridge (5-7,180) and Darrell Scott (6-1,225) are both capable of breaking through against the Bears special team's coverage.  This could be the first serious test for Coach Genyk in the post-Alamar era.




Kodiak:  Colorado is coming off a 3-9 season where they ranked either last or near the bottom of their league in most offensive categories.

This may sound eerily familiar, but they have a quarterback controversy heading into summer camp, and apparently have a really unreliable kicking game.

They do have a stud LT who is a pre-season All-American candidate.  Other standouts include a senior WR, and a senior CB.  They claim to now have the best group of WR's under Coach Hawkin's tenure, but have little depth at TB.

Their defense is supposed to be the strength of the team.  They have a veteran group of D-linemen, two experienced corners, and an up-n-coming playmaker at safety.  They replace two starters at LB, so that position will probably still be raw.


It's simply unknown at this point whether the Buffaloes have the guys to improve on their woeful offense last year.  Coach Hawkins had a great run at Boise St, but has never gotten over the hump at Colorado.  He's on the hot seat, so the team should be highly motivated, especially at the beginning of the year.(while there's still hope)

On offense:  We need to respect their D-line and experienced corners.  This will be our o-line's first challenge.  We should still be able to man-handle them. If they can contain/slow our game with their front 7 and put it on Riley to beat them...well, that makes me uneasy.  Considering the inexperience at LB, our TE's and backs could have a big day catching the ball. 

On defense:  Since this is where they're in re-building mode, I don't know that we need to be overly aggressive.  Giving up a big play here might be really damaging in terms of giving them confidence.  They don't have much of a run game, so we shouldn't need to stack the box.  It'll be a big test for whoever lines up across from their stud LT.  If it's Jordan, this match-up could potentially be worth millions to him.

Special teams:  Dare I hope that we might actually have an edge here?  Nah.

Overall:  They should be pumped to start the game, but you've got to think their psyche is a bit fragile considering they've largely been pummeled by everyone the last three years.  If we withstand their early emotion, force some 3 n' outs, and then ruthlessly put together a few sustained drives, we should be able to get the young guys some time in the 4th quarter.  The Cal Fan in me says that we'll turn it over, give up some big plays, and allow them to stay in the game emotionally.  We'll pull it out barely thanks to an effort-play by Vereen.  This is a big test for Tedford and his renewed emphasis on leadership, competition, and accountability.  After last year, we can't afford to take anyone lightly.  A good team would take Colorado's best shot, knock 'em down, and then step on their neck.  I hope that's what we see.


Atomsareenough:  09-11-01 was an unfortunate date. 09-11-10 is going to be a glorious date full of Cal Football victory and celebration and more Buffalo massacring than when they used to gun them down them from trains back in the late 19th century!

Also, I don't think of Memorial as either friendly confines or frozen tundra. It's more like "cozy, picturesque Bear Territory". That's not quite so pithy though, I guess. How about Den of the Golden Bear?

Anyway, we're going to win, and it won't be close. If they score 20 points, I'll be surprised. If we don't score more than 30, I'll be disappointed.


Oh, and btw, I have a buddy who went to CU, and for the record, he thinks the team is garbage, and the only thing he is confident of is that they will have the lousy season they need to finally prompt the dismissal of Hawkins.

As for their "quarterback controversy", the way it sounds to me it's like they're might as well be picking between Joe Ayoob 1 and Joe Ayoob 1A. Hawkins' son Cody was terrible last year and threw more picks than TDs. The other guy, Hansen, only had 1 more TD than interception. They've got a few interesting players; as Kod mentioned, their corners Jalil Brown and Jimmy Smith are supposed to be pretty good. Rodney Stewart seems like a solid RB, if not quite on the same level as ours. Scotty McKnight is a Senior WR who had 76 catches, 6 TDs, and almost 900 yards receiving last year, which considering the total offensive output of the team, seems like a lot.

That seems to be mostly it as far as notables though, apart from Nate Solder, the "stud LT" that Kod mentioned. It may be a relatively experienced Colorado team that we're facing, but it's not a very good one, so I'm not too worried.


OhioBear: Here we go.  This is we might get a sense of where the season is truly headed.  Hopefully, we will be coming off of a victory against UC Davis.  Without a doubt, we will nitpick our performance (though nowhere near as much as our coaching staff will) and will identify areas that we would like to see improved.  And against Colorado, our first FBS opponent of the year, we will expect to see those areas addressed. 

We will also expect to see a win.  Colorado has a rich history and proud tradition of football success during the last two decades.  The Buffs have a national championship in 1990, a Heisman Trophy winner (Rashaan Salaam) in 1994, and a BCS bowl appearance as Big 12 champions in 2001.  And they have a kickass mascot in Ralphie.  But the Dan Hawkins era has not been what the Colorado faithful would have wanted, that's for sure.  And last year's 3-9 record makes for a sizzling hot seat for Hawkins this year. 
I watched Colorado play two games last year -- a season opening loss to Colorado State in a game I expected CU to win and a 54-38 loss at Toledo on an ESPN Thursday night game.  Colorado looked awful.  Just awful.  They were so bad that I thought there was no way that Hawkins could keep his job.  But Colorado had some positives later in the year -- a nice win over Kansas long before Kansas went in the tank, a win over Texas A&M, and competitive losses to quality opponents in Oklahoma State and Nebraska.  But still, 3-9 is 3-9.  But for a substantial buyout that CU did not want to pay, I wonder if Hawkins would have been gone. 

The cautious Cal fan in me says that Colorado can't be as bad as last year.  Sure, former stud running back recruit Darrell Scott has transferred, but the Buffs do have some returning talent.  They will have probably been battle tested in week one much more than Cal will have been: CU's opener is the annual nonconference in-state rivalry game with Colorado State.  And they have a pass happy offense (led by offensive coordinator and former Cal assistant Eric Kiesau), which might give more than few Cal fans some trepidation given our uncertainty in the secondary. 
All that said, I still expect Cal to win this matchup of future Pac-12 conference mates.  We are at home and we appear to be the more talented team.  But I expect it to be close.  Cal 31, Colorado 24. 

Yellow Fever: Seems like they're the model for the old adage that if you have two quarterbacks, you really don't have any.  Just like we were in 2008!

Berkelium97:  Prediction time: after a close first half, Cal wins 31-14.

TwistNHook:  Predicton time?  We barely discussed the team before jumping to the end game here.

Berkelium97:  Okay, we can wait until others have something more to say.

Yellow Fever:  I think it's just that there really isn't much to say about Colorado at this point.

TwistNHook:  Well, I'm happy our readers have made it this far, then. 

Avinash:  Let's start with last season. Colorado was not very good last season. They started their season with a loss to Colorado State; CSU went 3-9 last year, losing their last nine games and going 0-8 in conference. They followed that up by giving up 54 points to Toledo. Toledo went 5-7 in the MAC.

That being said, they did give a lot of teams a good fight in-conference as Berkelium mentioned, which gives you an idea that there's potential brimming underneath the surface.

Tyler Hansen was thrown into the lineup as a true frosh. His numbers are meh (56% completion rate, 1440 yards, 8 TDs, 7 INTs), but he was being thrown around with Cody Hawkins, so it's impossible to get a real idea has to how good each of these guys are. Hansen finished last season with a terrible game against Nebraska, but he's established himself as the current starter through spring camp.

However, they're in a bit of a 2008 Riley/Longshore situation (Hansen as the youthful quarterback coming into his own, Hawkins as the experienced signal caller), where no quarterback has been able to separate himself enough to be established as de facto starter. Hansen will probably be trying to prove himself early in the season, so we'll see if Pendergast finds a way to take advantage if he presses himself early on.

The offensive line was bad last year. Very very bad. You thought Cal had a rough season up front. Colorado laughs at your idea of rough. 44 sacks allowed, 88 rushing yards per game. Which is weird, because technically they have a lot of weight and athleticism to throw around.



They have two linemen likely to anchor the unit next season. Their left tackle Nate Solder is 300 pounds but 6'9--last season he just couldn't put it together to keep his man in front of him, often leaving his quarterback to get hammered from the blind side.  He showed great ability this spring though and received a multitude of spring awards, so he might finally have rounded into form.

They also have a 6'8 guard in Ryan Miller. That's really freaking tall for even a basketball guard, much less a football guard. He was injured and missed most of spring, but he should be the second best player up front.

Both players took 850 snaps last year combined, so you have to figure that experience will pay off here. Colorado's offensive line vs Cal's front seven will provide a nice clue as to how much the former unit has improved and the latter unit has evolved.