SI.com 2003 College Football Preview




SI.com's College Football Team Previews - from Athlon Sports

  Colorado Buffaloes

 
The Lowdown
Coach: Gary Barnett (5th year, 29-21)
2002 record: 9-5 (Lost to Wisconsin 31-28 in Alamo Bowl)
Big 12 finish: 1st (North)
2002 offensive stats:
Rush: 232.8 ypg
(3rd in Big 12, 9th in nation)
Pass: 141.7 ypg (11th, 106th)
2002 defensive stats:
Rush: 170.1 ypg (10th, 81st)
Pass: 195.6 ypg (5th, 34th)
Projected Starters
Offense (3 returning starters in bold)
WR   80   Derek McCoy   Sr.  
WR   85   John Donahoe   Sr.  
ST  73  Clint O’Neal  So. 
SG  69  Karl Allis  Sr. 
63  Jack Tipton  Fr. 
TG   62   Marwan Hage   Sr.  
TT  79  Gary Moore  So. 
TE  45  Quinn Sypniewski  Sr. 
QB  14  Joel Klatt  So. 
TB  42  Bobby Purify  Sr. 
FB  34  Lawrence Vickers  So. 
Defense (7)
DE   97   Gabe Nyenhuis   Sr.  
DT   94   DeAndre Fluellen   Sr.  
DT   90   Sam Wilder   Jr.  
DE   30   Marques Harris   Sr.  
ILB   54   Sean Tufts   Sr.  
ILB  49  Thaddaeus Washington  Fr. 
CB  Sammy Joseph  Fr. 
CB   6   Phil Jackson   Sr.  
SS  12  Akarika Dawn  So. 
WS  27  Brian Iwuh  So. 
FS   17   Medford Moorer   Sr.  
Special Teams
39  Kevin Eberhart  Fr. 
29  John Torp  So. 
KR  Brian Calhoun  So. 
PR  15  Jeremy Bloom  So. 
2003 Schedule
Aug. 30  #Colorado State 
Sept. 6  UCLA 
Sept. 13  Washington State 
Sept. 20  at Florida State 
Oct. 4  at Baylor 
Oct. 11  Kansas 
Oct. 18  at Kansas State 
Oct. 25  Oklahoma 
Nov. 1  at Texas Tech 
Nov. 8  Missouri 
Nov. 15  at Iowa State 
Nov. 28  Nebraska 
  #Denver, Colo. 
There was enough drama in Boulder last year to rival the town’s renowned Shakespeare festival.

Months after quarterback Craig Ochs shocked the team with a surprise transfer to I-AA Montana, tailback Marcus Houston, the other prize in Colorado’s 2000 recruiting class, also jumped ship -- to rival Colorado State.

Between that hubbub and the embarrassment of having to replace their receivers coach twice, the Buffaloes saw their share of curveballs. But the team faced adversity in 2002 and held on for its second straight Big 12 North title.

As for the external rumblings that this is a rebuilding year?

"I don’t think it’s true," said CU linebacker Sean Tufts. "We did lose a lot of guys, especially on the offensive side of the ball, but we’ve got a lot of guys coming back. We’re just reloading."

Coach Gary Barnett still has plenty of talent at the offensive skill positions and on the defense he revamped last year, but a reworked offensive line and an untested quarterback are enough to make any coach nervous.

OFFENSIVE KEYS:

Barnett would have nothing to worry about here if not for the new quarterback and four new linemen he must introduce to regular action. The Buffaloes’ most experienced returnee under center, walk-on sophomore Joel Klatt, has thrown the ball all of three times. The other options are redshirt freshman James Cox or true freshmen Bernard Jackson and Brian White.

With only guard Marwan Hage back from last year’s starting five, the offensive line should have the most to say about the Buffaloes’ overall success. Five possible starters missed some or all of spring practice with injuries, though another, sophomore Clint O’Neal, stayed healthy.

With Chris Brown off to the NFL, Bobby Purify moves out of the background at running back with as much talent and grit as anyone. His main competition should come from smaller, quicker sophomore Brian Calhoun, who broke through at the end of the year for a combined 259 yards against Nebraska and Oklahoma. CU also has a group of veteran receivers, led by Derek McCoy and D.J. Hackett, although the Buffs ranked 11th in the Big 12 in passing last year.

DEFENSIVE KEYS:

Losing tackles Tyler Brayton and Donald Strickland to the NFL will hurt, but the Buffaloes have eight starters returning.

On the line, end Gabe Nyenhuis can be dangerous. Marques Harris would be a great linebacker in most other systems, but in this one he’s great on the edge.

Barnett regularly went with one backer last year, and the best of the lot is Tufts. While much of the rest of the defense is geared toward smaller, faster players, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Tufts looks like a classic linebacker, and he can play like one, too.

J.J. Billingsley, Brian Iwuh and Akarika Dawn saw significant minutes as freshmen in CU’s nickel-dime scheme. Medford Moorer is the veteran rock at free safety. Weak safety Clyde Surrell and corner Phil Jackson missed the spring with shoulder surgeries, but both have been around the block. The biggest risk is at the other corner, where Barnett probably will go with redshirt freshman Sammy Joseph.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Olympic freestyle skier/punt returner Jeremy Bloom, who decided to stick with football in June, is a huge threat. Barnett feels confident that sophomore walk-on John Torp can handle punting. He also rolled the dice by choosing two true freshmen, Kevin Eberhart and Mason Crosby, for the placekicking job.

FINAL ANALYSIS:

The Buffaloes have a lot of questions to answer before they can take the North for the third consecutive year. Can a revamped offensive line congeal during a grinder of a schedule? Even if it does, can an untested quarterback get the veteran receivers the ball and keep defenses from cheating against the proud ground attack?

The defense will have to win more games than it has in recent years for the Buffaloes if the team is to get past Colorado State, Florida State, Oklahoma and Kansas State. And even if all that happens, CU must depend on a true freshman kicker and an untested sophomore punter on special teams. But one thing Barnett has taught this team to do is to win regardless of the holes in the lineup.

Click here for complete index of 2003 team previews

To purchase the 2003 College Football Preview from Athlon Sports, click here.

 


 
CNNSI