October 16th

Tough Schedule

Not that it matters all that much, or that the Buffs will be getting sympathy cards anytime soon, but I couldn’t help but notice … As we reach the midway point of the 2009 season (at least fans at Duke and Indiana have basketball to look forward to), there is not a single team on the Buffs’ 2009 schedule which has a losing record. Four teams are 3-3; the remaining eight have winning records (two undefeateds – Texas and Kansas). Least likely to stay on the positive side of the ledger this weekend is 4-4 CSU, which goes on the road to face TCU. Big North rivals Iowa State and Kansas State put their .500 records on the line against Baylor and Texas A&M, respectively (both playing at home). The combined record of the Buffs’ 2009 opponents – 45-20.

Injury Report / Depth Chart

In the weekly Game Notes release, the Injury Report  (a/k/a “Guess What I’m Thinking?”) lists only three players. Mike Iltis, who can be seen practicing at center as well as guard (see below), is listed as “probable” (concussion). Linebacker Douglas Rippy, who suffered a sprained knee against Texas, is listed as “Day-to-Day”, while guard Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner, who has yet to play this season, is still listed as “week-to-week”.

There are a few items of note in this week’s depth chart, which also has regularly proved to be a work of fiction. Yes, Tyler Hansen is listed above Cody Hawkins at quarterback. Then again, Mike Iltis is still listed above Keenan Stevens at center, and Stevens has started and played every down at center the past two games, and it was story-worthy earlier this week when it was announced that Stevens had supplanted Iltis at the position.

No starter is listed at running back amongst Rodney Stewart, Darrell Scott, and Demetrius Sumler, but we all know who will be getting the touches this Saturday. The defensive line is stabilized (if not effective), as junior Marquez Herrod, sophomore Curtis Cunningham, and red-shirt freshman Will Pericak have started every game (the Buffs have lined up with a fourth linebacker of fifth defensive back on the first play of every game, so there are only three line starters listed). Amongst the linemen, Cunningham has been the most effective, posting 22 tackles, seventh best total on the team (linebacker Jeff Smart leads the Buffs, with 50 tackles through five games).

Notes of Note …

Against Texas – for the first time this season – the Colorado defense did not give up a 40-yard play (True, the Buffs did give up a 39-yard touchdown pass to the Longhorns just before half, and Texas did score on a 92-yard interception return and a 74-yard punt return, but I digress). The ugly total of 40+ yard plays holds at 11 for a second week. Meanwhile, the Buffs have generated all of two plays over 40 yards this season, both on pass plays, with neither going for a touchdown. Cody Hawkins had a 44-yard completion to Andre Simmons against Colorado State and a 42-yard completion to Anthony Wright against Toledo. You know what else is odd about these numbers? (Other than the fact that neither went for a score, and that both occurred in the first two weeks of the season, with the Buffs posting zero long plays since). Neither Simmons nor Wright have posted any other catches this season …

Kansas comes to Folsom Field ranked 17th in the nation. Before cutting it a little too close against Iowa State, 41-36, the Jayhawks were ranked 15th in the coaches’ poll (16th in the AP). By not faring better, the drop creates a rarity that I doubt even Dave Plati could find a duplicate for … In 2007, the Buffs faced the Jayhawks when Kansas was ranked 15th. Last season, Colorado traveled to Lawrence to face the 16th-ranked team in the nation. This season, Kansas comes to Boulder ranked 17th …

I guess we can safely predict the Jayhawks’ ranking when Colorado goes on the road to play Kansas next November 6th …

October 15th

Offensive Line Shuffles Continue

The old saying, “You can’t tell the players without a scorecard” takes on new meaning when you are talking about the Colorado offensive line.

When we last left the Buffs, the offensive line had put out the same starting lineup for the second game in a row for the first time. Against both West Virginia and Texas, the Buffs trotted out Nate Solder at left tackle, Ethan Adkins at left guard, Keenan Stevens at center, Ryan Miller at right guard, and Bryce Givens at right tackle …

No, wait. Didn’t Miller move back to tackle? What about Mike Iltis, who had taken over the center position this past spring, beating out Stevens? What about Blake Behrens, who started at guard against Wyoming, and who started 11 games at guard last season?


Well, you and I may be, but the Buffs’ opponents haven’t been. The Colorado rushing game, which was supposed to be the focus of the Buffs’ offensive attack, has continued to sputter. Last season, Colorado ran for 124 yards per game, ranked 84th in the nation. This year, the Buffs are rushing for 83 yards per game, down to 112th.

So, what’s offensive line coach Denver Johnson going to do?

Move players around, of course (it’s been working so well so far). The latest moves (take notes, there will be a quiz later):

– Sophomore defensive lineman Eugene Goree may be asked to move to the offensive line. Goree has been supplanted at nose tackle by red-shirt freshman Will Pericak, and may be moved to the offensive line. Goree made a similar move briefly last fall, before moving back to the defensive line this spring. “I’m still tossing it around in my head right now,” said Goree of the move. “I’m just going to finish out this week on defense and see how it goes.” Considering the offensive line was supposed to be deep (if inexperienced), and the defensive line was completely decimated and devoid of talent, the move has to be seen as curious … at best.

Keenan Stevens was so completely beaten out for the center’s job this spring and fall by Mike Iltis that the center position was considered to be one of the two spots (along with Nate Solder at left tackle) which was settled going into the season. Then, Iltis suffered a sprained ankle and concussion, pushing Stevens, a former walk-on, into the position of starter. Now, it appears that a healthier Iltis is not getting his job back. Okay – if Stevens is doing a better job than he was apparently capable of doing during spring ball and fall camp, fine. Offensive line coach Denver Johnson said he is pleased that he has “interchangeable players” at center. Great. So then it makes perfect sense that Iltis has been practicing … at guard? “We’re going to try to start maybe looking at Mike at guard as well,” said Johnson, “so we can continue to develop a little more utility and maybe create some more options depth-wise.” Huh? We want to be two-deep at center, so, by all means, let’s practice Iltis at guard …

– Meanwhile, the return of Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner this season looks less and less likely. MTM, who decided to stay in Boulder this fall instead of going on a mission, is still working back from several knee surgeries. “I don’t think he would tell you at this point that he is truly full speed,” said Johnson of MTM. “That thing is just going to continue to run its course.” Here’s hoping that MTM uses 2009 for his red-shirt season. The Colorado football program will need him in the future, and it looks less and less like the present coaching staff knows how to handle the offensive line.

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