Returning Starters – Offense: 7 Defense: 9
Preview: Since coming to Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre has had to practically completely rebuild this program from the ground up. MacIntyre showed he can completely turn a program around given what he was able to do at San Jose State before taking the Colorado job. The Buffs should be patient with their head coach even though his teams have combined to go just 6-18 in his first two seasons. If given time MacIntyre should be able to turn this thing around better than anyone else Colorado could hire.
Colorado made significant strides on offense last season as they rose from the 90th ranked unit in the nation to 40th this past season. The Buffs finally have some experience under center with QB Sefo Liufau who’s shown flashes of great play in his 18 starts. Liufau has already thrown for over 5,000 yards in his career, but he needs to work on cutting down his turnovers. The skill positions look solid with receivers Spruce and Fields back in the fold along with all the backs that saw playing time last season.
The Buffaloes have been weak on the defensive side of the ball ever since joining the Pac-12, but the team expects to be better in 2015 with nearly every starter returning. Colorado brought in defensive coaching help with the addition of Jim Leavitt and Joe Tumpkin. There’s reason for optimism along the D-line with Kafovalu coming back after taking 2014 off, along with DE McCartney who showed promise last season. LB return experience with Gillam and Olugbode, but this unit lacks depth. The secondary is the strength of the defense and this unit will be led by Crawley and Bell.
Prediction: It’ll be tough for the Buffaloes to move up in the very competitive Pac-12, but this is the best roster of players this program has had in recent memory. This team has suffered many close losses in conference play and after winning no conference games last season, the goal for this group should be turning those close losses into wins. If Colorado can make a bowl game this season that would be remarkable considering how long this program has been in the basement of their conference. If Colorado can go 4-0 outside of conference play then a bowl game will certainly be within reach.
Projected Record: 6-7 (2-7)