Starters returning: 7
Starters returning: 6
Colorado's first five games are in its own mile-high home, against Oregon, Miami, San Jose State, Northwestern and Kansas. Bliss. The first away game is against the shattered gang at Oklahoma State and—bingo!—the Buffs are 6-0. But now come the ogres. Well, at least Colorado catches Oklahoma and Nebraska at Boulder. The Buffs have beaten the Sooners in four of their last six games, but the Cornhuskers are a different matter; they have lost only once to Colorado in the last 16 games. Give or take a whammy here and there, the Buff schedule adds up to a record better than the 7-3-1 of 1977, and another bowl bid.
James Mayberry is a smallish (5'11", 205 pounds) fullback whose 4.5-second speed and agility carried him to 1,299 yards rushing and a 5.3-yard average last season. This year the Buffalos will switch often to the veer to take advantage of Mayberry's quickness and the breakaway ability of Tailback Eddie Walker. The offensive line will again carve out daylight for Mayberry and his accomplices. Tackle Matt Miller, a 275-pounder, has All-America potential and Tight End Bob Niziolek is both a fine blocker and possessive receiver.
The Buffalo defense features Tackle Ruben Vaughan, 6'4", 256 pounds, an intense young bear of a man who is able to bench-press 475 pounds, and Nose Guard Laval Short, 6'2", 241. Despite the steadying presence of Safety Mark Haynes, the secondary may not be exactly airtight, and there is reason to be a bit leery about the quality of the linebackers—a position riddled by injuries in the last two years. Yet Coach Bill Mallory says of the overall defense: "I have a good gut feeling about them; this could be a winning defense."
With a bit of luck—which Colorado decidedly did not have last season because of injuries and disciplinary wrangles that cost Mallory a fine battery in Quarterback Jeff Knapple and Split End Steve Gaunty (who both transferred to the University of North Colorado)—this could wind up a memorable season in Boulder.