#64 Colorado Football 2016 Preview

Colorado Buffaloes
Overall Rank: #64
#11 Pac-12
Colorado has a few positives to build off of after posting a 4-9 record in 2015. The Buffaloes lone Pac-12 win came at Oregon State, but this is a team that played pretty well on the road and had close calls at UCLA and Utah. Coach Mike MacIntyre enters his fourth season with the program and has just ten total wins and eight of those were against non-conference opponents. This year may not be too much better, but even winning two Pac-12 games in one year is a step in the right direction.
2015 Record: 4-9, 1-8
2015 Bowl: None
Coach: Mike MacIntyre (10-27 at Colorado, 26-48 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brian Lindgren, Darrin Chiaverini
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Leavitt
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Phillip Lindsay, RB, 653 yards
Passing: Sefo Liufau, QB, 2,418 yards
Receiving: Shay Fields, WR, 598 yards
Tackles: Rick Gamboa, LB, 96
Sacks: Jimmie Gilbert, LB, 6.0
Interceptions: Tedric Thompson, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: WR Devin Ross, TE Sean Irwin, DB Chidobe Awuzie, LB Kenneth Olugbode, LB Derek McCartney, DL Josh Tupou
Key Losses: RB Christian Powell, WR Nelson Spruce
The Buffaloes return a lot of experience to a defense that ranked second in the conference in pass defense and sixth in scoring defense. The secondary should again be the team’s best unit on either side of the ball with cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and safety Tedric Thompson leading the way. Awuzie ranked second on the team with 90 tackles and added two interceptions. Ahkello Witherspoon is another experienced senior cornerback and sophomores Isaiah Oliver and Nick Fisher gained valuable experience as freshmen. Ryan Moeller is back to man the free safety spot too after missing nearly half of last season with injuries sustained off of the field. The secondary could be great if the line and linebackers can get more pressure on the quarterback. Getting tackle Josh Tupou back from suspension should help and he should excel at the nose tackle position. The linebackers are an interesting group with Kenneth Olugbode, Addison Gillam and Rick Gamboa leading the way. All three of those players have led the team in tackles over the last three seasons. Last year it was Gamboa and his 96 tackles. Also look out for junior college transfer Drew Lewis to make a big splash and for rush linebackers Jimmy Gilbert and Derek McCartney to spearhead what should be an improved pass rush.
Colorado thought they had their quarterback problem solved when Davis Webb joined the program as a graduate transfer. Webb then decided to go to California, leaving Colorado scrambling and hoping. Sefo Liufau threw for 2,418 yards and nine touchdowns last season, but it is unclear whether or not he will be able to get healthy in time for the start of the season. Eventually Liufau should be under center this season, but redshirt freshman Steven Montez and senior Jordan Gehrke may have to battle it out for the starting job until Liufau is fully fit. The ground game was solid last year and four experienced rushers are back to lead the way. Phillip Lindsay, who rushed for 653 yards and six scores in 2015, was the most productive of the bunch last year. The Buffaloes may also want to give freshman Beau Bisharat some touches. It will not take long before it becomes clear that he is the most talented back on the roster. The biggest problem on offense could end up being the wide receivers. Nelson Spruce is gone after catching 89 passes for 1,053 yards. Shay Fields is a good wideout, but Colorado will need junior college transfers Juwann Winfree and Kabion Ento to be productive.
The Bottom Line:
Colorado does not have many expectations, but this could be a breakthrough year of sorts. The depth and talent on the roster is improving and the schedule has some winnable games on it. Idaho State, Oregon State, Arizona State and Washington State all come to Boulder. And this team has already proven that they can compete on the road. Bowl eligibility will be a tough task, but if Colorado can beat Colorado State again and follow it up with a win over Idaho State, Colorado fans will start dreaming of a six win season. 
Projected Bowl: None
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 156.2 (86th in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 240.6 (49, 8)
Total Offense: 396.8 (67, 10)
Scoring Offense: 24.6 (97, 11)
Rushing Defense: 198.7 (99, 10)
Pass Defense: 218.2 (59, 2)
Total Defense: 416.9 (85, 7)
Scoring Defense: 27.5 (70, 6)
Turnover Margin: 0.08 (61, 7)
Sacks: 2.08 (67, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 3.15 (116, 11)


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