EZ Mortgages

Preseason – 1993 – Buffs take on the most difficult schedule in the nation

// Aug 17 - 1993

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Scouting the Nation

As the summer of 1993 wound down, (a great summer for me and my lady, thank you very much) the pre-season magazines appeared. There was little or no consensus as to which team would emerge from the upcoming season ranked No. 1 on January 1, 1994. Florida State received much of the ink, but Alabama was also getting support for a repeat of its 1992 National Championship.

When the pre-season Associated Press poll came out, five different teams received first-place votes. Included with Florida State, Alabama, Michigan, and Syracuse was Stanford, which was ranked no higher than 15th overall.

There was consensus as to the Colorado Buffaloes and their season, however, at least as to several issues.

First, everyone agreed that the Buffs’ 1993 schedule would be brutal. The non-conference slate included ranked Miami (No. 5 in the pre-season poll) and Stanford (15th), along with the nearly-ranked Texas (30th overall) and Baylor (31st). If Colorado could survive September, conference clashes against Oklahoma, improving Kansas, and, of course, Nebraska, loomed.

“Maximum Challenge” was the motto chosen by the team for the season, and a glance at the schedule explained why.

1993 Outlook – CU Roster

While there was consensus that Colorado had a difficult schedule, there also seemed to be uniform opinion as to Colorado’s formula for success: improve the rushing game.

Colorado’s rushing attack had dropped from 19th nationally in 1991 to 100th nationally in 1992, and that had to improve if the Buffs were to regain national prominence. The passing game, led by Kordell Stewart and the receiving tandem of Charles E. Johnson and Michael Westbrook (who in 1991 had become only the fourth pair in history to each surpass the 1,000 receiving yard barrier in a single season), was in good hands. Between Stewart and super-sub Koy Detmer, the Buffs had passed for 3,271 yards in 1992, a total higher than any other team in Big Eight history. The offensive line had talent, with Bryan Stoltenberg returning at center to anchor the line. Derek West switched from left tackle to right tackle, with Tony Berti moving from center to left tackle. At guard, sophomores Heath Irwin and Chad Hammond returned after earning starting time in 1992 as red-shirt freshmen.

In all, ten of eleven starters returned, so the offense was not the major concern.

There was concern about the defense, however. Five All-Big Eight defenders, including Thorpe Award winner (given annually to the nation’s top defensive back) Deon Figures, along with linebackers Chad Brown and Greg Biekert, were lost to the NFL. In all, five Buff defenders – Figures; Brown; Biekert; Ronnie Bradford; and Leonard Renfro – were selected in the 1993 NFL draft, with Figures and Renfro going in the first round.

Linebacker Ron Woolfork, who had led the Big Eight with 13.5 sacks in 1992, would be expected to carry the load for the talented but not yet cohesive defense. Junior cornerback Chris Hudson was given pre-season All-Conference mention, as was junior linebacker Ted Johnson. If the defense needed help, it could call on punter Mitch Berger, who received mention on many All-American pre-season teams, to keep the opponents pinned deep in their own territory.

The song being sung about the Buffs in August, 1993, was the same as it had been for several years. The talent was there, it was just a matter of working through a tough schedule to the top. Having finished 1992 ranked as the 13th best team in the nation, Colorado opened the 1993 campaign two rungs higher, coming in with a No. 11 pre-season ranking.

Preseason Rankings

First Team All-Big Eight (cited in at least one publication or preseason poll):  punter Mitch Berger; tight end Christian Fauria; cornerback Chris Hudson; linebacker Ted Johnson; quarterback Kordell Stewart; tailback Lamont Warren; wide receiver Michael Westbrook; linebacker Ron Woolfork.

First Team All-American: punter Mitch Berger; wide receiver Michael Westbrook; linebacker Ron Woolfork

Team Rankings (of 12 Preseason magazines): Highest – 4th (College & Pro Football Newsweekly); Lowest – 13th (Football News)

 

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