Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
2012 SEASON IN REVIEW: Colorado missed the new coach run in the Pac-12 by a
year. After a second-straight dismal campaign in 2012 under Jon Embree the
Buffaloes were once again looking for a new head coach in the offseason.
The last ride under Embree got off to a horrific start. First the Buffaloes
lost a tight 22-17 contest to in-state rival Colorado State. That setback
wasn't great considering the Rams finished 4-8. However the next week was the
real low of the campaign as the Buffaloes dropped a 30-28 decision to FCS
squad Sacramento State. After a 69-14 embarrassment against Fresno State,
Colorado did win its first game of the season with a 35-34 comeback win
against Washington State. Unfortunately it would be the only win of the season
for the Buffaloes, who then lost eight straight games, by an average of 34.6
points, to finish the season. The poor effort sent Embree packing and Colorado
once again looking for answers.
OFFENSE: The hope is that Mike MacIntyre is the answer to what has been one of
the worst stretches in program history. MacIntyre should certainly bring
excitement as he installs the Pistol formation he ran at San Jose State a year
ago when the Spartans were ranked sixth nationally in passing offense.
The front-runner to get the keys to MacIntyre's offense in year one is Connor
Wood. The junior was one of three players to get time under center for the
Buffaloes last year and was the most successful once nine-game starter Jordan
Webb went down for the season with a torn ACL. Now that his main competition,
Nick Hirschman, has transferred, the job is entirely his.
Wood threw for just 265 yards last year, while completing an even 50 percent
of his pass attempts. He also had a single touchdown pass to four
interceptions so there is obviously room for improvement.
Luckily for Wood, he will be able to throw to Paul Richardson after no
quarterback was able to in 2012. The junior wideout missed the entire season
last year after having surgery on his knee. In 2011, Richardson was one of the
best offensive threats on the field for the Buffaloes, as he caught 39 passes
for 555 yards and five touchdowns. Richardson's yards and touchdown totals
would have ranked first on the team in 2012.
"It was a humbling experience not being able to compete with my teammates,"
Richardson said of sitting on the sidelines last season. "You can't help but
wonder and think about what I could be doing to help them."
Nelson Spruce (43 rec, 447 yards, 3 TDs) and Tyler McCulloch (34 rec, 436
yards, 2 TDs) return as well to create a rather impressive receiving unit.
Christian Powell was a revelation for the Buffalos in the backfield. After
taking over as the starting running back in the second week, Powell rushed for
691 yards and seven touchdowns. His 691 yards were good enough for the second-
most by a freshman in program history. Tony Jones (320 yards, 3 TDs) and Donta
Abron (256 yards, 2 TDs) will also see time.
The offensive line from 2012 remains largely intact, or at least filled with
players that have starting experience. Both tackles Jack Harris and Stephane
Nembot and guards Alex Lewis and Daniel Munyer return, but will need to adjust
to MacIntyre's more pass-heavy offense.
DEFENSE: A team doesn't go 1-11 just because of bad offense. Colorado can
certainly attest to that as the Buffaloes were one of the worst units in the
country in just about any defensive category there is. That included total
defense (488.5 ypg) where they ranked 121 out of 124 teams. However, what is
most telling is that the three teams below Colorado (Arizona, Baylor and
Louisiana Tech) each ranked in the top 10 nationally in total offense.
Colorado ranked 119th.
Obviously MacIntyre will need to get this side in order as well. To do so he
has brought in Kent Baer as defensive coordinator. Baer was the linebackers
coach and defensive coordinator for MacIntyre with the Spartans and also has
made stops at the DC post at Utah State, Idaho, California, Arizona State,
Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington.
The one and only building block that Baer really has is defensive linemen
Chidera Uzo-Diribe. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound bruiser finished with seven sacks
and 10.5 tackles for loss last season. The rest of the team managed just 12.0
Derrick Webb led the team in tackles (66) last season but wasn't an
appreciably dominant defender. Still Webb will be called to lead a largely
unproven linebacking corps where players like Woodson Greer, Paul Vigo and
even freshman Addison Gillam will get looks.
The secondary has the most starting experience returning but is also a group
that managed just three total interceptions a year ago. Cornerbacks Kenneth
Crawley and Greg Henderson will be joined by senior safety Terrel Smith as the
returning starters. Smith had 63 tackles a year ago. Marques Mosley and Jered
Bell are the only players back to have collected an interception.
SPECIAL TEAMS: This might be the strength of the team this season with both
starters in the kicking game back and solid options at the return slots. Will
Oliver only had eight field goal attempts last season but nailed six of
those. Darragh O'Neill is a good punter, who averaged 43.5 yards per boot.
Mosley was extremely dangerous as a kick returner as he picked up 549 yards
off kickoffs including a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the season
finale against Utah.
OUTLOOK: MacIntyre has some experience taking a buried team back from the
dead. In his three years at San Jose State, MacIntyre took a team that went
2-10 the year before he arrived to a 10-2 record and a national ranking last
"When you go into a program that has been losing you have to have some culture
change and change is tough sometimes," MacIntyre said. "It wasn't too long ago
Colorado was one of the top-15 programs in the country year in, year out. We
need to get back there."
The road to that destination begins on August 31 when Colorado once again
takes on in-state rival Colorado State. Matchups with FCS foe Central
Arkansas and then Fresno State at home finish off the non-conference slate.
The Buffaloes will be tested plenty in the early Pac-12 schedule (at Oregon
State, Oregon, at Arizona State, Arizona) before November even starts. The
Buffaloes play three of five games in that month on the road, including trips
to UCLA and Washington.
Even though MacIntyre was able to turn San Jose State around, the Spartans
still went 1-12 in his first season. In the first go around in Boulder there
might not be a ton of difference. However, with how historically bad the
Buffaloes were last season, he can't do much worse. Scraping together two or
even three wins would be seen as improvement.
The Sports Network