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Vincent Rizzo Sports COLLEGE FOOTBALL COUNTDOWN NO.49 COLORADO Vincent Rizzo Sports COLLEGE FOOTBALL COUNTDOWN NO.49 COLORADO
Today at No. 49: Colorado Buffaloes Coach: Mike MacIntyre (20-31, entering fifth season; 40-52 overall) 2016 record: 10-4, 8-1 in the Pac-12 conference, first in South Division... Vincent Rizzo Sports COLLEGE FOOTBALL COUNTDOWN NO.49 COLORADO

Today at No. 49: Colorado Buffaloes

Coach: Mike MacIntyre (20-31, entering fifth season; 40-52 overall)

2016 record: 10-4, 8-1 in the Pac-12 conference, first in South Division

Look back: Few programs have improved as much from one season to the next as the Colorado Buffaloes did in 2016. The team went from four wins in 2015 to 10 wins in 2016. It was the first time the program won double-digit games since 2001. In the process, Colorado captured its first division crown as a member of the Pac-12 and the first division title since claiming one in the Big 12 in 2005. The Buffaloes also earned the program’s first bowl berth almost a decade.

Offensive starters returning: 9

Offensive starters lost: 2

Defensive starters returning: 3

Defensive starters lost: 8

Key losses: QB Sefo Liufau, OL Alex Kelley, DT Jordan Carrell, DT Josh Tupou, DE Samson Kafovalu, LB Jimmie Gilbert, LB Kenneth Olugbode, CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Ahkello Witherspoon

Top returnees: RB Phillip Lindsay, WR Devin Ross, WR Shay Fields, WR Bryce Bobo, LB Rick Gamboa, LB Ryan Moeller, FS Afolabi Laguda, OL Jeromy Irwin, OL Gerrad Kough

Strengths: Colorado returns the most starters on offense in the Pac-12 next season, with nine players coming back including Phillip Lindsay. Lindsay is one of five tailbacks in the Pac-12 to rush for at least 1,000 yards after rumbling for 1,189 yards and 16 touchdowns last season.

QB Steven Montez spent last season as the understudy to four-year starter Sefo Liufau at quarterback. He finished with 1,248 total yards of offense and 10 total touchdowns while starting three games midseason after Liufau went down with an ankle injury. The offense averaged more than 30 points and 400 yards per game in 2016.

The offensive line saw nine different players earn starts last season and the majority of that experience returns.

Weaknesses: Colorado’s defense was much improved, in part, to defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, but his decision to take the same job at Oregon leaves the program turning to former Kentucky defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot to run the defense in 2017. The challenge for Eliot will be replacing a wealth of talent, including the team’s top tackler (Kenneth Olugbode) and the top secondary player (Tedric Thompson).

LB Rick Gamboa is the team’s top returning tackler (77) along with safety Afolabi Laguda (69 tackles).

Outlook: The offense is now in Montez’s hands and with nine starters back from the 2016 season, the Buffaloes should improve on that side of the ball. While the defense was the backbone of last season’s division title run, that more than likely won’t be the case in 2017. The defense is inexperienced in some areas and quickly improvement will be the key to building on last year’s success.

Today at No. 49: Colorado Buffaloes Coach: Mike MacIntyre (20-31, entering fifth season; 40-52 overall) 2016 record: 10-4, 8-1 in the Pac-12 conference, first in South Division Look back: Few programs have improved as much from one season to the next as the Colorado Buffaloes did in 2016. The team went from four wins in 2015 to 10 wins in 2016. It was the first time the program won double-digit games since 2001. In the process, Colorado captured its first division crown as a member of the Pac-12 and the first division title since claiming one in the Big 12 in 2005. The Buffaloes also earned the program’s first bowl berth almost a decade. Offensive starters returning: 9 Offensive starters lost: 2 Defensive starters returning: 3 Defensive starters lost: 8 Key losses: QB Sefo Liufau, OL Alex Kelley, DT Jordan Carrell, DT Josh Tupou, DE Samson Kafovalu, LB Jimmie Gilbert, LB Kenneth Olugbode, CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Ahkello Witherspoon Top returnees: RB Phillip Lindsay, WR Devin Ross, WR Shay Fields, WR Bryce Bobo, LB Rick Gamboa, LB Ryan Moeller, FS Afolabi Laguda, OL Jeromy Irwin, OL Gerrad Kough Strengths: Colorado returns the most starters on offense in the Pac-12 next season, with nine players coming back including Phillip Lindsay. Lindsay is one of five tailbacks in the Pac-12 to rush for at least 1,000 yards after rumbling for 1,189 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. QB Steven Montez spent last season as the understudy to four-year starter Sefo Liufau at quarterback. He finished with 1,248 total yards of offense and 10 total touchdowns while starting three games midseason after Liufau went down with an ankle injury. The offense averaged more than 30 points and 400 yards per game in 2016. The offensive line saw nine different players earn starts last season and the majority of that experience returns. Weaknesses: Colorado’s defense was much improved, in part, to defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, but his decision to take the same job at Oregon leaves the program turning to former Kentucky defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot to run the defense in 2017. The challenge for Eliot will be replacing a wealth of talent, including the team’s top tackler (Kenneth Olugbode) and the top secondary player (Tedric Thompson). LB Rick Gamboa is the team’s top returning tackler (77) along with safety Afolabi Laguda (69 tackles). Outlook: The offense is now in Montez’s hands and with nine starters back from the 2016 season, the Buffaloes should improve on that side of the ball. While the defense was the backbone of last season’s division title run, that more than likely won’t be the case in 2017. The defense is inexperienced in some areas and quickly improvement will be the key to building on last year’s success.

Vincent Rizzo

College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com

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