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All I Want For Christmas

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Dec 21, 2014.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

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    By Stuart


    [h=2]All I Want For Christmas[/h]–
    Christmas week is finally upon us.
    The frenzied shopping season, the tiring holiday parties, and*the energy-sapping*travel will soon be behind us. We can all sit back,*take a deep breath,*settle down into a comfortable chair,*and finally focus on what’s*really important*…
    … What’s under the tree with my name on it?
    Okay, perhaps that’s not the only thing that’s important this holiday season. Peace, goodwill, healthy friends and*family … yada, yada, yada.
    While those are all great goals and wishes,*there’s no harm in pondering what we might get Christmas morning.
    As long as we are in a wishing mode, here are my Christmas wishes for each unit of the CU football team …
    - Quarterbacks -
    What I want for the quarterbacks*… Continued development and competition. Sefo Liufau set numerous school records in 2014, but many of those efforts were for naught. Liufau set 17 school records in the Cal game alone* … but the Buffs still*lost in double-overtime, so there was not much to celebrate. Another telling stat: There were only three teams in the nation this fall which had a lower passing yards per completion average than Colorado’s 9.81 (Oregon’s average, by comparison, was 14.55 yards per completion). Setting records while dumping the ball off did not prove to be*a formula for success. CU plays in a quarterback league, and Spring practices should help decide if Liufau can continue to progress, or whether he has reached his ceiling. If it’s the latter, Buff fans will need to know if Jordan Gehrke can make another go of it … of Jaleel Awini is the answer … or Cade Apsay …?
    * Including records for most touchdowns in a game (7), Most pass attempts (67), most completions (46), and most yards gained, total offense (527)
    What I want from the quarterbacks … Fewer interceptions. Coach MacIntyre spoke during the season about the need to improve*Liufau’s mechanics. I am not a quarterback’s coach, and I can’t identify the physical issues as to why Liufau had trouble throwing to his left, and why he continuously missed receivers over the middle. I do know, however, that Colorado was 103rd in the nation in interceptions. I also know that a team like Colorado, with so many other issues, cannot afford to give away points and opportunities to opponents by turning the ball over. This stat has to change in 2015 if the Buffs are to have any hope of obtaining seven victories and a bowl bid.
    - Running backs -
    What I want for the running backs … Clean bills of health. Christian Powell was banged up for much of the season, and missed two games completely. Michael Adkins was banged up for much of the season, and missed two games completely. Colorado was supposed to have four running back options this fall, but each game presented new combinations of available players, with no rusher ever having the chance to build some momentum as “the man”. Here’s wishing the running back corps an injury-free 2015, and let the best man win.
    What I want from the running backs … A front-runner to emerge. The old adage “if you say you have two quarterbacks, what you are really saying is that you have none”, applied to the running back corps in 2014. The “running back by committee” approach was only a moderate success. Colorado ranked 9th in the Pac-12, and 79th in the nation, in rushing. Certainly an improvement over the past few seasons, but hardly numbers to brag about. Some Buff fans like Christian Powell’s bruising style; some like Phillip Lindsay’s elusiveness; while others like the overall package Michael Adkins can bring to the table. I don’t have a favorite players on this unit, but, come next December, I would like to have one.
    - Wide Receivers -
    What I want for the wide receivers … More opportunities. Again, the numbers this fall*were impressive. Colorado was 18th in the nation in passing, and Nelson Spruce had a record-setting season. As the 2014 campaign wore on, however, better teams with better defensive personnel were able*to take*Spruce out of play (in the first five games of the season, Spruce had 56 catches for 697 yards and 10 touchdowns. In the final seven games, Spruce had 50 catches for 501*and two scores),but*no other player stepped up to fill the void. The opportunity for Shay Fields, Bryce Bobo, Donovan Lee, et al.,*to step up is there.
    What I want from the wide receivers … A true deep threat. As noted above, CU was 122nd in the nation in yards per completion. Paul Richardson is in the NFL, and, as they say, isn’t walking through the door next September. If opposing teams can put eight or nine defenders in the box next fall, the running game will suffer, and the short game will be snuffed out. CU needs someone on the roster to put fly pattern*back into the play book.
    - Tight Ends -
    What I want for the tight ends … Warm bodies. In theory, Colorado had seven tight ends on the roster this past fall, and loses only one, Kyle Slavin, to graduation. Sean Irwin will be back as a junior, with Connor Center returning as a sophomore. They will be joined next fall*by red-shirt freshmen Dylan Keeney and Hayden Jones, along with true freshman Chris Bounds. Here’s hoping there is production in numbers.
    What I want from the tight ends … A distraction for opposing defenses. Colorado tight ends accounted for all of 18 catches in 2014, going for 178 yards and one touchdown. In his last season at San Jose State, Mike MacIntyre used the tight end position effectively, producing an NFL draft pick. In the first two years at Colorado, the tight end position has yet to be heard from. Creating another threat for opposing defenses to prepare for would be a nice addition to the 2015 offensive arsenal.
    - Offensive Line -
    What I want for the offensive line … Continued good health and conditioning. Colorado has had fairly good luck with keeping offensive line starters healthy the past two years. The Buffs went through all of 2013 with the same five starters, and had only one “outsider” – Gerrad Kough – pressed into the starting lineup this fall. The Buffs lose their two starting guards, Kaiwi Crabb and Daniel Munyer, to graduation, but have plenty of warm bodies prepared to fill the void. The offensive line, which was 49th in the nation in sacks allowed, will have plenty of returning players to choose from next fall. Here’s hoping that injuries will continue to play a minor role in their development.
    What I want from the offensive line … Nastiness. Right tackle Stephane Nembot will be a senior next fall. The 6’7″, 295-pound former defensive player has been a “talent” with great potential from his first year in Boulder. He has not, however, blossomed into the next great NFL prospect that the Buff Nation was hoping for. The other returning starters, tackle Jeromy Irwin and center Alex Kelley, have shown great potential. It’s time for these three, along with the incoming starters at guard (Kough? Shane Callahan? Sully Wiefels?) to go from prospects to*stars. For the Colorado offense – and the Buffs as a whole – to take the next step, the offensive line*needs to go from merely being adequate to being a dominant force.
    - Defensive Line -
    What I want for the defensive line … Nametags. The Buffs will have only two seniors along the defensive line next fall – Josh Tupou and Justin Solis – but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be experienced talent. CU is bringing in not one, not two, but three junior college defensive linemen, Jordan Carrell, Blake Robbins, and Leo Jackson. Throw in Tyler Henington, John Tuso, and Markeis Reed, who all missed the season with injuries, and three red-shirt freshmen, Jase Franke, Terran Hasselbach, and Michael Mathewes, and you have, for the first time in recent memory, a very deep unit. Oh, and Samson Kafovalu, who took the fall off to work on his academics, is reportedly set to return.
    They may need most of*spring practices*to just get to know each other’s names …
    What I want from the*defensive line … Dominance. The time for talking about building a strong defensive line is over. Josh Tupou, Jimmie Gilbert, and Derek McCartney are all returning starters, and Tyler Henington was a starter in 2013. Add in the three junior college defensive linemen and Samson Kafovalue, and you have eight players along the defensive line with significant starting experience (and that is before you even get to the likes of Clay Norgard, Christian Shaver and Timothy Coleman). It’s time for experience to equal production.
    - Linebackers -
    What I want for the linebackers*… Quality depth. Unlike the defensive line, the linebacker corps is pencil thin. Addison Gillam and Kenneth Olugbode both return, and yes, there are usually only two linebackers on the field against the spread offenses of the Pac-12, but behind Gillam and Olugbode, there is not much depth or proven talent. Ryan Severson, Deaysean Rippy*and transfer Travis Talianko return as juniors, and … that’s it. The only other scholarship linebackers on the present roster are Rick Gamboa, who redshirted this year, and Grant Watanabe, a gray-shirt freshmen. Scary thin would be the best way to describe this unit.
    What I want from the*linebackers … Quality production. As difficult as it may be, Gillam and Olugbode are going to have to cover a great deal of ground, both figuratively and literally. With no proven depth behind them, these two will have to stay healthy, and play well. Gillam had an injury-riddled sophomore campaign, but the Buffs will need him to return to the start status he showed as a freshman. Olugbode led the team in tackles this fall, with 83, which may come as a surprise to some. Olugbode will need to meet or beat his production come the 2015 season.
    - Defensive Backs -
    What I want for the defensive backs … A Dale Carnegie course. Every year since 2010, a new name has been added to the “most plays by a true freshman” list, and every year it has been a freshman defensive back. Terrel Smith (2010), Greg Henderson (2011), Kenneth Crawley (2012), Marques Mosley (2012), and Chidobe Awuzie (2013) make up seven of the top eight on the list of freshman participation (Addison Gillam is the only non-defensive back on the list. In 2014, no freshman defensive back was forced into active duty on a regular basis. In 2015, the story should be the same, with all of the likely starters being upperclassmen with significant experience. Shell-shock should no longer be an excuse for the Buff defensive backfield.
    What I want from the defensive backs … Leaders to step forward. Greg Henderson not only set the freshman record for participation in 2011, he smashed it. Terrel Smith had set a new standard, at 414 plays, the year before. In 2011, though, Greg Henderson was on the field for 823 plays. Henderson was a starter as a freshman, and never looked back. Terrel Smith, often injured and reduced for the most part to special teams in 2014, was nonetheless voted to be one of CU’s captains in 2014.*There are leaders returning in the defensive backfield, but they do have some significant shoes to fill.
    - Special Teams -
    What I want for the special teams … A smooth transition. Colorado has had two four year starters at both the place kicker and punter positions. Will Oliver had several challengers over the years, but none could take his place. Meanwhile, Darragh O’Neill just went about his business, posting numbers which would make him the all time CU leader in punts, punting yardage, punts inside the 20-yard line, and punts inside the five-yard line. Diego Gonzalez, the transfer from Mexico, is the only scholarship kicker returning, with incoming freshman Alex Kinney from Ft. Collins expected to immediately start as CU’s next punter, with the possibility that Kinney might end up with both jobs next fall. .
    What I want from the special teams … A few big plays. You could stump more than a few Buff fans with this brain-teaser: Name the last CU Buff to score a touchdown on a punt return. You have to go back to the 2005 season, when Stephone Robinson turned the trick against Kansas. CU did have a kickoff return for a touchdown in 2013, but that was when Nelson Spruce returned an onside kick for a score. Long kickoff returns have been few and far between for CU in recent years, and long punt returns have been non-existent. The Buffs are not going to be able to just roll up their sleeves and dominate their 2015 opponents. It’s going to take some lucky bounces and some odd scores for CU to be competitive. The Buffs are as deep as they have been in some time, which means there are quality players playing special teams. It’s time for them to be special.
    - CU head coach Mike MacIntyre -
    What I want for*Mike*MacIntyre*… A winning season. CU’s head coach deserves a seven win season and a bowl bid. Despite the record in the standings, anyone who watches CU football on a regular basis can see the improvement. For those who remain skeptical, a look at how CU stands in national rankings gives a clue. The CU offense was 17th in the nation in first downs; 18th in passing offense; and 38th in total offense. Those are numbers put up by teams looking for a bowl bid, not the numbers of a team which couldn’t win a conference game for the first time in 99 seasons. Coach MacIntyre is doing well … he just needs some “W’s” to show the rest of the nation CU is on its way back.
    What I want from*Mike MacIntyre*… Better recruiting. Before you start yelling, hear me out. I get it that CU is fighting an uphill battle when it comes to recruiting. I get it that poor facilities and a lack of commitment from the administration has hurt. I get it that recruits are not impressed with a national title, a Heisman trophy, and conference titles – which were earned before they were even born. And I also understand that Coach MacIntyre has made a career out of getting more from less. For Colorado to compete in the Pac-12, however, Coach MacIntyre and his staff cannot rely on a*roster of “diamonds in the rough” … CU will actually have to start winning some recruiting battles with its Pac-12 brethren.
    Happy Holidays, everyone!
    Go Buffs!
    Stuart


    Originally posted by CU At the Game
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  2. BehindEnemyLines

    BehindEnemyLines beware the habu Club Member

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