Previewing the Colorado Buffaloes: Part I - Coaching and Offense

Colorado enters the game at 2-9, but is just coming off their first conference win of the season.  Colorado blasted Arizona 48-29 at home, rushing for 273 yards and passing for 227 yards in the process.  That game was the second time this year that Colorado eclipsed 500 yards of total offense in a game, the other being the early season loss to Cal despite racking up 582 yards of offense.  The performance against Arizona was particularly impressive because it came after a 7 game losing streak which included games at Ohio St. and 5 straight games against arguably the 5 best Pac-12 teams.  

The remainder of Colorado's schedule was not very kind.  Colorado opened the season traveling to Hawaii (loss) and played a neutral site game against Colorado St. (win). In fact, the only home "non-conference" game for Colorado was played against Cal, a pre-Pac-12 entry game that had to be counted as a non-conference game due to some bizarre bureaucratic reasoning.

Coaching Staff

Jon Embree (Taylor Embree's father, in case anyone does not know) returned to his alma mater to turn the once proud program around.  Embree played tight end in the 80's under Bill McCartney.  Embree also coached at Colorado as a position coach from 1993-2002, which included time under Rick Neuheisel during his stint at Colorado from 1995-98.  Following coaching at Colorado, Embree was on the UCLA staff from 2003-05, where he served as an Assistant Head Coach and Wide Receivers Coach.  He then coached in the NFL for four years before returning to Colorado.

The Colorado offense is coached by another familiar name to both collegiate football fans and UCLA fans; Eric Bieniemy. Football fans will remember Bieniemy's great collegiate career as a running back at Colorado.  He still holds many rushing records for the school.  UCLA fans will remember his tenure as Running Backs Coach and Recruiting Coordinator from 2003-05.

Defensively, Colorado is coached by Greg Brown.  Brown is in his third stint at Colorado.  He coached defensive backs in the early 90's before moving on to the NFL.  He then returned to Colorado to coach defensive backs under Dan Hawkins from 2005-09 before co-coordinating the Arizona Wildcat defense last year.  

Quarterbacks

Tyler Hansen (6‐1, 215, Sr.) leads the offense and has put up decent numbers this season.  Despite hitting only 55.9% of his passes, he has thrown for 2,492 yards with 18 TD's and 7 INT's.  He has been sacked 29 times this season for -202 yards, but he does have 40 other carries for about 314 yards with 2 TD's.

Nick Hirschman (6‐3, 230, Fr.‐RS) will back up Hansen.  The big bodied QB is much more of a prototypical pocket passer than Hansen.  He has seen action in Colorado's blowout losses, but is squarely in the backup role at this point.

Running Backs

Rodney Stewart (5‐6, 175, Sr.) carries the load.  Despite the small frame, Stewart has carried the ball 158 times for 742 yards and 4 TD's in the 9 games that he has played.  He missed the Oregon and Arizona St. games, but he is healthy and will assume the lion's share of the carries this week. Stewart is also dynamic catching the ball; he has 36 receptions for 525 yards on the season.

Behind Stewart, Tony Jones (5‐7, 175, Fr.‐RS) will take the majority of the backup carries.  On the season, he has 64 carries for 214 yards and 2 TD's.  However, the majority of the carries came during Stewart's missed time, and he generally carries the ball less than 6 times per game.

Evan Harrington (5‐11, 230, Sr.) and Alex Wood (6‐2, 255, Soph.) are the lead blockers.  Neither receives the ball much.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Toney Clemons (6‐2, 210, Sr.‐5) leads the team in receiving with 36 receptions for 528 yards and 7 TD's.  Clemons is backed up by Tyler McCulloch (6‐5, 205, Fr.) and Kyle Cefalo (5‐10, 170, Sr.‐5).  McCulloch has 10 receptions for 96 yards and a TD while Cefalo has 9 receptions for 79 yards and 2 TD's.

The backpack thief, err, Paul Richardson (6‐1, 175, Soph.) starts opposite Clemons.  Apparently he runs away from defenders as well as he does problems.  He's backed up by Keenan Canty (5‐9, 155, Fr.‐RS) and Logan Gray (6‐2, 190, Sr.‐5).  Gray has 16 receptions for 288 yards while Canty has 14 receptions for 161 yards.

Colorado lists 6 tight ends on their depth chart.  They are Ryan Deehan (6‐5, 245, Sr.), Matthew Bahr (6‐4, 260, Sr.‐5), Alexander Lewis (6‐6, 270, Fr.), Kyle Slavin (6‐4, 235, Fr.‐RS), Scott Fernandez (6‐3, 250, Soph.) and Nick Kasa (6‐6, 270, Jr.).  Deehan leads with 20 receptions for 291 yards and a TD.  

Offensive Line

The strength of the Colorado line is clearly the right guard spot.  Ryan Miller (6‐8, 295, Sr.‐5).  Miller has started since his freshman year.  He's backed up by Sione Tau (6‐5, 335, Sr.‐5) and Daniel Munyer (6‐2, 290, Fr.‐RS), but he does not come off the field often.

The left guard spot will be manned by Ethan Adkins (6‐4, 290, Sr.‐5).  Shawn Daniels (6‐3, 275, Sr.‐5) and Paulay Asiata (6‐5, 295, Fr.) are the listed backups.

At center, Gus Handler (6‐3, 290, Soph.) beat out Kaiwi Crabb (6‐3, 300, Fr.‐RS) and Daniel Munyer (6‐2, 290, Fr.‐RS) in summer camp.

The left tackle spot is manned by David Bakhtiari (6‐4, 295, Soph.). Bakhtiari played RT last year, but moves to LT to replace first round pick Nate Solder. Alexander Lewis (6‐6, 270, Fr.) is his backup, but is also identified as a TE on the depth chart.

At right tackle, Ryan Dannewitz (6‐6, 295, Jr.) moves from his super-sub position to full-time tackle.  He was primarily a backup guard last year.  He's backed up by Sione Tau (6‐5, 335, Sr.‐5).

That conclude Part I of the Colorado Buffalo preview.  Fire away with any additional thoughts and comments.
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