Preview 2017: Colorado Buffaloes

Preview 2017: Colorado Buffaloes

Teams & Conferences

Preview 2017: Colorado Buffaloes

Preview 2017: Colorado Buffaloes


Previewing and looking ahead at the Colorado season – and what you need to know.


Contact @PeteFiutak

– 2017 Colorado Preview: Were Buffs Good, Or Pac-12 Bad?
– 2017 Colorado Schedule Analysis
 Colorado Previews: 2016 | 2015

What You Need To Know About The Colorado Offense

The offense that was so balanced and so effective throughout last year managed to do what was needed throughout the season – at least until the final two games – rising up time and again on the way to the Pac-12 title game. But now it could be even better if a few key parts come through.

Phillip Lindsay returns as the all-around back the offense can work around when needed, with a few good-looking options behind him. Trying to pave the way is a line that allowed too many sacks and didn’t exactly blast away for the ground attack, but comes back experienced and stronger with four starters back around star left tackle Jeromy Irwin.

The real gem should be the passing game – if Steven Montez comes through with a consistent season. Thrown to the wolves for a stretch, the young quarterback put up big numbers to keep the season going when Sefo Liufau went down. With the top nine pass catchers back, the Buffs will bomb away.

Biggest Key To The Colorado Offense

It has to keep the chains moving. The rushing attack had a lot to do with that against the better defenses – more on that in a moment – but Colorado managed to win games by taking control of the clock and the tempo.

When the O owned third downs, forget about it. There’s explosion in the Buff attack, but when it converted just 1-of-13 third down tries against Michigan, and 4-of-15 against Washington, everything bogged down. This isn’t the type of offense that wants to bomb its way out of trouble – but it’s geared to do that a bit more this year.

What You Need To Know About The Colorado Defense

Absolutely brilliant, the defense was a rock in the secondary and tough up front, finishing 19th in the nation in overall D while allowing just 21.7 points per game. There might be a ton of work to do after losing most of the key parts, but the drop-off shouldn’t be too massive.

The secondary is the biggest issue after losing three all-star caliber playmakers to the nation’s fifth-most efficient pass defense. Afolabi Laguda returns, though, at one safety spot, and there’s hope for the replacements to fill in fast, starting with special teams star Ryan Moeller at safety and Isaiah Oliver a good one at one of the corner gigs.

Rick Gamboa is a tackling machine middle linebacker inside the 3-4, but with the early retirement of Addison Gillam, eight of the top 11 tacklers are gone. The line has undergo an overhaul, but Leo Jackson should be a solid at one end.

Biggest Key To The Colorado Defense

The secondary has to come up with the same big plays last year’s did. Tedric Thompson was a ball-hawker of a safety, coming up with seven interceptions for a secondary that picked off 15 passes and was all over the field.

Afolabi Laguda is back after finishing third on the team in tackles, but Chidobe Awuzie and Ahkello Witherspoon will be missed on the corners. With Colorado State ready to bomb away in the opener, and Washington’s Jake Browning and UCLA’s Josh Rosen to deal with before the end of September, the defensive backs have to rock.

Colorado Will Be Far Better If …

The ground game always works. It wasn’t a hard formula last year. When the Colorado rushing attack was rolling, everything else seemed to work. When it struglged, the offense stalled. Shock of shocks, when CU went against the great run defenses, there was a problem, going 0-4 when rushing for under 100 yards, and 9-0 when going over.

How much does this matter? Going back to 2013, Colorado is 0-for-its-last-13 when going under the century mark, and it’s 0-40 against FBS teams since 2008 – and 2-40 overall – when not hitting 100.

Best Colorado Offensive Player

RB Phillip Lindsay, Sr. – While he’s only 5-8 and 190 pounds, he’s a tough runner who turned into one of the Pac-12’s best all-around backs. While he’s got the flash – he returned a kickoff 74 yards and averaged over five yards per carry – he became a workhorse at times finishing with 1,252 yards and 16 scores, highlighted by a 219-yard, three score day against Arizona State. With great hands, he caught 53 passes – with 11 in the win over UCLA – for 493 yards. He can do it all.

2. OT Jeromy Irwin, Sr.
3. WR Shay Fields, Sr.
4. QB Stephen Montez, Soph.
5. WR Devin Ross, Sr.

Best Colorado Defensive Player

LB Rick Gamboa, Jr. – The team’s leading returning tackler has more pressure on him to shine in the middle with Addison Gilliam retiring. The 6-0, 230-pounder is the leader of the D coming off a 79-tackle season – with 11 against both Michigan and Oklahoma State – and 78 as a freshman. While he’s got the range to get into the backfield more often, his job is to hold up against the run and be the one everything works around.

2. S Afolabi Laguda, Sr.
3. S/ST Ryan Moeller, Sr.
4. CB Isaiah Oliver, Jr.
5. DE Leo Jackson III, Sr.

Key Player To A Successful Season

QB Stephen Montez, Soph. – The talent is undeniable. The 6-5, 225-pounder out of Texas has the big-time arm, the mobility, and the size, but he still needs to prove he can put it all together and become a consistent passer. He stepped in when Sefo Liufau was banged up, and came up bit with 333 yards in the win over Oregon and followed it up with 293 against Oregon State, but he threw five picks on the season and struggled with his accuracy at times. It’s his offense to run now, and he just might be good enough to lead the way to a huge season. At least that’s the hope.

The Colorado Season Will Be A Success If …

The Buffs win seven games. Everything came together in the dream 2016 season, but this year’s team won’t be quite as good, and the Pac-12 South won’t be quite as bad. Starting out 3-0 is a must against Colorado State, Texas State and Northern Colorado, and it’s not asking for the world to win four of the last nine games with home dates against Arizona and Cal in the equation. However, don’t be shocked if CU is the underdog more often than not in Pac-12 play, starting with …

Key Game To The Colorado Season

Sept. 23 vs. Washington. The Huskies are better than the Buffs, but this is the measuring stick. It’s the Pac-12 opener for the two teams the played the league closer last year, with Washington winning the Pac-12 Championship 41-10. With three of the next four games on the road – starting with UCLA up next – coming up with the likely upset over the Dawgs could be a must.

2016 Colorado Fun Stats

– 1st Half Scoring: Colorado 263 – Opponents 132
– Blocked Kicks: Opponents 4 – Colorado 1
– Time In The Lead: Colorado 457:20 – Opponents 189:07

– 2017 Colorado Preview: Were Buffs Good, Or Pac-12 Bad?
– 2017 Colorado Schedule Analysis
 Colorado Previews: 2016 | 2015

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