Colorado Football Predictions
Colorado went 3-10 in Jon Embree’s first year on the job. His team continued to fight hard despite a 1-9 start and won two of its final three games to carry some momentum into the upcoming season.
The Buffaloes really could have notched a couple more victories. They fell to Cal in overtime and went down by four to Washington State. The fact that their eight defeats came by at least 17 points is a sign that Embree still has plenty of work to do.
Colorado enters 2012 having endured six consecutive losing campaigns, which is an excruciating stretch for a program that enjoyed success under Rick Neuheisel and Gary Barnett.
The Buffaloes were one of the weakest offensive teams in the country last season. They finished dead last in the Pac-12 (109th in the nation) in scoring with 19.8 points per game. They came in 11th in the conference in total offense (92nd in the nation) with 346.3 yards per contest. Getting improved play from the quarterback position is the key to bettering those numbers.
Sophomores Connor Wood and Nick Hirschman were expected to battle for the starting quarterback job this fall. But, that was before former Kansas starter Jordan Webb entered the mix.
Webb connected on 63.0 percent of his throws for 1,884 yards with 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his final year at Kansas. He ended up 4-12 as a starter for the Jayhawks.
While Webb should provide an upgrade at the position, he won’t have the services of star wide receiver Paul Richardson, who had 11 grabs for 284 yards in a game against Cal last year. He will miss the season with an ACL injury.
Three starting offensive lineman return, including junior left tackle David Bakhtiari, who was named to the All-Pac-12 second-team last year.
Sophomore tailback, Tony Jones, could emerge as the team’s top playmaker. He rushed for 297 yards and two touchdowns and caught 27 passes for 168 yards and two scores last season.
The Buffaloes were the worst defensive team in the Pac-12 in 2011 in terms of points allowed, giving up 36.5 points per game. They finished 10th in the conference in total defense with 439.3 yards allowed per game.
It’s unrealistic to expect drastic improvement, but the coaching staff believes the stop unit will be better in 2012 with the additions of defensive lineman Josh Tupou and Kisima Jagne and defensive backs Yuri Wright and Kenneth Crawley.
Senior free safety Ray Polk and junior defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe are the unit’s top playmakers. Polk had 59 tackles a year ago – the most of any returning player. Uzo-Diribe recorded 5.5 sacks in 2011 to lead all returners.
PAC-12 South Prediction: 6th Place
The non-conference portion of the schedule, which includes games against Colorado State, Sacramento State and Fresno State, will give Colorado an opportunity to get off to a 3-0 start. Unfortunately, the Buffs may not win another game the rest of the way.
In conference play, Colorado travels to Washington State, USC, Oregon and Arizona. It will have a tough time walking away with a win in any of those but could have a shot against the Cougars and Wildcats.
The home portion of the conference schedule includes matchups with UCLA, Arizona State, Stanford, Washington and Utah. The Buffaloes will have their best opportunities against the Bruins and Sun Devils.
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