The Pac-12 conference is full of high-octane offenses, relentless machines that rack up yards and points like they’re going out of style. Colorado must improve on the offensive side of the ball if they want to become relevant and surprise some people in the conference. In 2014, the Buffaloes averaged 28.5 points per game. That number dropped to 24.8 in 2015, and if Colorado is going to win six games and get to a bowl game they’re going to need to improve on that number drastically.
The offense starts and ends with the success of three year starting quarterback Sefo Liufau. After suffering a season ending Lisfranc injury in the USC game last year, he looks to return to his 2014 form, where he threw for 3200 yards and 28 touchdowns. If he cuts down on turnovers, and takes care of the ball, the Colorado offense has enough weapons to have success.
The wide receiving core at Colorado is as deep as it’s been in recent memory. Losing Pac-12 receptions leader Nelson Spruce hurts, but there are plenty of bright spots at the position. Shay Fields looks to find consistency and step in to the number one receiver role, and Devin Ross will look to see more action as well. Bryce Bobo has shined in camp thus far, but will need to show he can produce in games. Junior college transfer Juwann Winfree tore his ACL in practice last week, which hurt the depth of the receivers, but look for true freshman speedster Tony Julmisse to make an instant impact on the offensive side of the ball.
At running back, the Buffaloes go three deep, with starter Phillip Lindsay, Colorado’s leading rusher returning to the backfield. Michael Atkins is probably the most talented back on the team, but he’s had problems staying healthy in the past couple of years, and is nursing a hamstring injury, which could hinder the start of his season. Donovan Lee will look to take a more pronounced role this year as he was used mostly as a change of pace a year ago.
Offensive line is the biggest question mark for the Colorado offense. The only sure thing is tackle Jeromy Irwin, who tore his ACL in the second game of the season last year. He will be tasked with protecting Liufau’s blind side. There are eight different guys vying for the other four starting spots, which means nobody has separated themselves with a little more than a week before the first game. Last year the line gave up 41 sacks, a number that will have to improve drastically if Colorado wants to stay in games.
The offense was conservative at times in 2015, but expect the hiring of co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini from Texas Tech to open it up and bring some of the air raid principles to Boulder. The Buffaloes are on the rise, but to truly soar, their offense will have to take a step forward in a big way.