Spring wrap: Colorado


2010 Overall record: 5-7

2010 conference record: 2-6 (Big 12)

Returning starters

Offense: 8, Defense: 5, punter/kicker: punter

Top returners

RB Rodney Stewart, WR Paul Richardson, QB Tyler Hansen, OG Ryan Miller, LB Jon Major, DE Josh Hartigan

Key losses:

OT Nate Solder, CB Jimmy Smith, CB Jalil Brown, LB Michael Sipili

2010 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Stewart* (1,318)

Passing: Cody Hawkins (1,547)

Receiving: Scotty McKnight (621)

Tackles: Sipili (94)

Sacks: Josh Hartigan (7)

Interceptions: Brown (3)

Spring answers

1. Hello, my name is: The first priority since only one coach was retained from the previous staff was the get to know one another -- coaches and players. For the players, they needed to know that a new sheriff was in town, and coach Jon Embree made sure they knew things were different with a physically taxing spring session. Further, coaches had to find their own rhythm working together. And, obviously, new schemes had to be adapted: a pro-style offense and 4-3 base defense.

2. Hansen without Hawkins: After sharing the starting job with former coach Dan Hawkins' son Cody the previous three seasons, Hansen is a man-alone at quarterback. That might help, and the results in scrimmages suggested so. In one, he completed 18 of 19 passes for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns (a 255.6 rating), and his totals for all three scrimmages were 39-of-53 (73.6%), 531 yards/5 touchdowns/zero interceptions (188.9 rating). He also showed he's learning to get rid of the ball as he wasn't sacked in the three scrimmages.

3. Fronting the seven: Heading into spring, the defensive front seven was a question, even with a lot of guys back. It still is, but a number of players stepped up, most notably linebacker Doug Rippy and defensive tackle Conrad Obi. Both are upperclassmen who seemed energized by a coaching change. The 310-pound Obi, in particular, was a revelation. After playing just 100 snaps the previous three seasons, he dominated three scrimmages, piling up 20 tackles, six coming for a loss -- four were for no-gain, by the way -- with two sacks and a forced fumble. Oh, and outside linebacker Jon Major came back strong from a knee injury.

Fall questions

1. Hey, buddy, can you spare a corner? Smith and Brown are off to the NFL, and their replacements didn't reveal themselves this spring. In fact, the results in general in the secondary were a bit worrisome, and incoming players may be needed to help.

2. Operation install: Much of spring was dedicated to figuring out what sort of talent was on-hand, so the offensive scheme wasn't fully implemented. That's going to be a chief task during fall camp.

3. Just for kicks? Embree was outspoken about how unhappy he was with the special teams play he saw on film in 2010, and he looked exasperated more than a few times this spring. The Buffaloes specialists are going to be young and were markedly inconsistent this spring. Sophomore punter Zach Grossnickle averaged just 39.5 yards per punt in 2010, while sophomore Justin Caster was No. 1 at kicker after spring practices.