The 2017 college football season is less than a week away, and the Colorado Buffaloes look to continue their rise from the depths of mediocrity on Friday against Colorado State at Mile High Stadium in Denver. Colorado had a solid 10-4 campaign last year, and will look to continue to improve. Co-Offensive coordinators Brian Lindgren and Darrin Chiaverini begin their second year together, and should be able to add even more wrinkles to an offense that averaged 29.2 points per game in 2016.
For the first time in a long time, the Buffaloes have some depth at the offensive line. As it sits now, senior Jeromy Irwin starts at left tackle, Gerrad Kough at left guard, Jonathan Huckins at center, Tim Lynott at right guard, and Aaron Haigler at right tackle. Irwin begins his sixth season at Colorado, and has made 25 starts in his career. He started thirteen games in 2016, and was named a captain for the second year in a row for 2017. Kough started 11 games in 2016, and was voted honorable mention all Pac-12 at the end of the season. He graded out as the second-best lineman on the team last year, and returns for his senior year this year. Jonathan Huckins has big shoes to fill, having to replace the character Alex Kelly who anchored the line last year. Huckins started 3 games last year when Kough was injured, but will be expected to make much more of an impact for Colorado this season. Tim Lynott was named a Freshman All-American for his 2016 campaign, as well as played the most snaps on the team last year with 940. Haigler started 7 games in 2016 due to injury, but returns as a sophomore healthy and ready to help anchor the line.
The Buffaloes return arguably the best running back in the Pac-12 conference in senior Phillip Lindsay. The “Tasmanian Devil” as he’s called, is the heart of the Colorado offense. A Colorado kid who grew up watching the Buffaloes, helped them get back on the map last year, earning second team Pac-12 honors while scoring 16 touchdowns, the most in the conference. While he’s only 5’8”, Lindsay runs with an attitude, and should have another monster year. Depth may be an issue at running back, with senior Michael Adkins and sophomore Beau Bisharat backing up Lindsay. Adkins career at Colorado has been derailed by injuries, but if healthy he can provide a well needed boost to help spell Lindsay throughout the game.
Colorado returns their top 5 receivers from a year ago, and may even be better with the return of Juwann Winfree from a torn ACL. Shay Fields, Devon Ross, Bryce Bobo, and Jay McIntyre will all be back, and should have even better years this year with a more natural passer at the quarterback position. Fields and Ross should have a monster year, but the most intriguing receiver may be Winfree. Expected to come in last year and start, an injury in camp derailed his season. He’s back, healthy, and at 6’3” and 210 pounds should able to be a physical presence on the outside that may have been a missing dynamic from 2016. George Frazier will start at tight end, but Colorado rarely used the tight end at all last year, and with receiver depth may see more of the same in 2017.
The Buffaloes have real depth at the quarterback position in starter Steven Montez, backup Sam Noyer, and freshman Tyler Lytle. Montez showed flashes last year when he was thrust into action because of quarterback Sefo Liufau’s injury’s. Montez has a monster arm, and the ability to fit the ball into tight windows. More of a natural passer than Liufau, expect the Buffaloes to cut down on quarterback run plays and showcase Montez’s arm more. If he can take the next step in his progression, and not turn the ball over, the Buffaloes offense has a chance to be one of the best in school history. Back up Sam Noyer has also shined in camp. In the case that he does have to see game action, Colorado is in much better shape than in previous years at the quarterback position.
Colorado has weapons all over the field on offense, and I would expect them to take a step forward this year. It wouldn’t surprise me if they averaged 35 points a game this season, with all the skill players they have along with an experienced offensive line.