Coach: Mike MacIntyre (6-18, entering third season, 22-39 overall record)
2014 record: 2-10, 0-9 in Pac-12, sixth in South Division
Look back: In his first season, Mike MacIntyre accomplished something the previous two coaches at Colorado failed to do — win at least four games during their inaugural seasons. However, injuries and inconsistencies sent Colorado back a step in 2014, with the team managing just two wins during MacIntyre’s second season. The Buffaloes continue to search for their first winning season since 2005.
Offensive starters returning: 7
Offensive starters lost: 4
Defensive starters returning: 9
Defensive starters lost: 2
Key losses: OL Kaiwi Crabb, OL Daniel Munyer, WR D.D. Goodson, TE Kyle Slavin, CB Greg Henderson, RB Tony Jones, DL Juda Parker
Top returnees: QB Sefo Liufau, WR Shay Fields, WR Nelson Spruce, OL Jeromy Irwin, OL Alex Kelley, OL Stephane Nembot, DL Josh Tupou, LB Addison Gillam, LB Ken Olugbode
Strengths: Quarterback Sefo Liufau took the majority of snaps last season for the Buffaloes. He became the first Colorado quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season since Cody Hawkins (2007) after passing for 3,200 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2014. He helped guide an offense ranked eighth in the Pac-12 in total offense (439 yards per game) and fifth in pass offense (285).
Colorado has a variety of players who could see time at running back this season. It’s a good thing considering three players started in the backfield last year thanks to injuries. Senior Christian Powell (448 yards, 5 TDs) led the team in rushing last season, followed by junior Michael Adkins (398 yards, 3 TDs) and sophomore Phillip Lindsay (391 yards). Freshman Kyle Evans could be a factor as well.
The offensive line, which allowed a league-low 23 quarterback sacks last season, returns three starters, including center Alex Kelley and tackle Stephane Nembot. Receiver Nelson Spruce earned a spot on the All-Pac-12 second team after recording a team-high in receptions (106), receiving yards ( 1,198) and receiving touchdowns (12). He returns to anchor a group that includes Shay Fields (486 yards, 4 TDs) and Bryce Bobo (215 yards, 3 TDs).
Weaknesses: Colorado ranked next-to-last in the Pac-12 in scoring defense — allowing 39 points per game last season — and total defense (460.9 yards per game). In the offseason, MacIntyre hired Jim Leavitt as the program’s new defensive coordinator. While there is lot of work ahead of him, Leavitt will have nine starters back from last season. The most noticeable absence, however, is cornerback Greg Henderson. The four-year starter was a fixture in the Buffaloes’ secondary, where he started 45 games.
Another troubling trend is Colorado’s difficulty forcing turnovers. The team’s turnover margin was minus-10 last season. The program hasn’t achieved positive numbers in that category since 2006. They forced just 11 turnovers in 2014, including a league-worst three interceptions.
Outlook: It’s been four years since Colorado joined the Pac-12 and the program continues to struggle. The Buffaloes are 10-39 during that brief period, including a dismal 4-31 conference record. This year’s team is one of the most talented and experienced that MacIntyre has had during his brief tenure with the program, but it’s unclear whether it will translate to more wins.
Sept. 3 at Hawaii
Sept. 12 UMass
Sept. 19 at Colorado State
Sept. 26 Nicholls State
Oct. 3 Oregon
Oct. 10 at Arizona State
Oct. 17 Arizona
Oct. 24 at Oregon State
Oct. 31 at UCLA
Nov. 7 Stanford
Nov. 13 USC
Nov. 21 at Washington State
Nov. 28 at Utah
College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com