#38 Colorado Football 2017 Preview


Colorado Buffaloes


Overall Rank: #38

#8 Pac-12

Colorado was the surprise team, in a good way, of the 2016 season. The Buffaloes went from 4-9 in 2015 to winning the Pac-12 South with an 8-1 record. They got crushed by Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game and again by Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl, but it was a huge accomplishment for Coach Mike MacIntyre and the Colorado program. This year will be a step back, yet the future is looking much brighter in Boulder.
2016 Record: 10-4, 8-1
2016 Bowl: Alamo Bowl vs. Oklahoma State (L 8-38)
Coach: Mike MacIntyre (20-31 at Colorado, 36-52 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Darrin Chiaverini, Brian Lindgren
Defensive Coordinator: D.J. Eliot
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Phillip Lindsay, RB, 1,252 yards
Passing: Steven Montez, QB, 1,078 yards
Receiving: Shay Fields, WR, 883 yards
Tackles: Rick Gamboa, LB, 77
Sacks: N.J. Falo, LB, 1.5
Interceptions: 4 tied with 1
Other Key Returnees: RB Kyle Evans, WR Devin Ross, WR Bryce Bobo, S Afolabi Laguda, S Ryan Moeller, CB Isaiah Oliver
Key Losses: QB Sefo Liufau, LB Kenneth Olugbode, S Tedric Thompson, CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Ahkello Witherspoon, LB Jimmie Gilbert, DE Jordan Carrell
Losing a four-year starter at quarterback always hurts. Sefo Liufau threw for 2,366 yards and 11 touchdowns during his senior season. The good news is that Steven Montez got some playing time and threw for 1,017 yards and nine touchdowns with just four interceptions when Liufau was injured for a few games. Against Oregon Montez threw for 333 yards and added another 135 yards on the ground. Oregon’s defense was bad, but it was a very promising performance. There is plenty of talent returning at wide receiver to help out. The senior trio of Shay Fields, Devin Ross and Bryce Bobo are extremely dangerous. Fields is the big play receiver, but it was Ross who led the team with 69 receptions. Phillip Lindsay can catch the ball too, but he also rushed for 1,252 yards and 16 scores. As far as replacing a four year starting quarterback goes, this should be relatively smooth. If Montez can turn into a leader, the Colorado offense could be even more dangerous than they were in 2016.
However, it was Colorado’s defense that led them to a championship. And it is the defense that must usher in a new coordinator and replace nine starters. New coordinator D.J. Eliot comes from Kentucky and will attempt to keep as much the same as possible. It will just be with a lot of different players. The front three will be led by end Leo Jackson, who was a starter two years ago. There are high expectations for junior college transfer Javier Edwards at nose guard. The linebackers return Rick Gamboa, who tallied 77 tackles last season. Derek McCartney missed most of last season with an injury and his experience will help bolster the linebacker corps. Safeties Afolabi Laguda and Ryan Moeller will lead the secondary. There is young talent with sophomores Dante Wigley and Anthony Julmisse, and potential in the athletic junior Isaiah Oliver, but ranking in the top 20 in the FBS in pass defense again will be nearly impossible.
The Bottom Line:
Colorado will not give up their South title without a fight, but there are a lot of questions to answer. In the end, avoiding a massive step back should be the goal. With the program on the rise, Coach MacIntyre has the opportunity to turn Colorado into a consistent title contender. This season will tell us just how realistic that goal has become. With a Pac-12 opener against Washington followed by a trip to UCLA, the Buffaloes could find themselves sitting at 0-2 and playing catchup the rest of the season.
Projected Bowl: Cactus Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 182.6 (56th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 254.5 (47, 8)
Total Offense: 437.1 (47, 6)
Scoring Offense: 31.1 (51, 7)
Rushing Defense: 148.9 (44, 6)
Pass Defense: 193.6 (20, 2)
Total Defense: 342.5 (19, 2)
Scoring Defense: 21.7 (20, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.43 (32, 4)
Sacks: 2.57 (30, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 2.21 (77, 7)
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#168 Jake Moretti