Pac-12 Conference Football Preview: Colorado Buffaloes

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It was a dismal first season in the Pac-12 Conference for the Colorado Buffaloes, who moved from the Big 12 Conference a season ago. During their first season in the Pac-12, Colorado finished with an overall record of 3-10 and a conference record of 2-7. The Colorado Buffaloes aim to improve in 2012, playing twelve games featuring three non-conference games and nine conference games.

Offense

Last season, Colorado didn’t have much success offensively. Here’s a look at the averages they had per game and their ranking compared to the other schools in Division I:

  • Total: 346.3 yards (92nd overall)
  • Passing: 254.2 yards (52nd overall)
  • Rushing: 108.7 yards (106th overall)

Just based on these stats, it can seem that offensive production is a big issue for Colorado entering the 2012 season, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Colorado also averaged only 19.8 points per game (109th in Division I) in 2011.

Sept 10, 2011; Boulder, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver Paul Richardson (6) runs for a 66 yard touchdown in the third quarter against the California Golden Bears at Folsom Field. The Golden Bears defeated the Buffaloes in overtime 36-33. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Going into this season, Colorado needs to find replacements for three of their top offensive players in 2011: quarterback Tyler Hansen, running back Rodney Stewart, and wide receiver Toney Clemons. These players lead the team in their respected categories.

Hansen led the team with 2,883 passing yards and 20 passing touchdowns. He also threw 11 interceptions last season. Stewart led the team with 854 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He also had 571 receiving yards (2nd highest on the team). Clemons caught 43 passes for 680 yards in 2011. He finished the season with eight touchdowns.

The biggest player to replace is Tyler Hansen. Last season, Nick Hirschman backed up Tyler Hansen, who threw for 192 yards and zero touchdowns on the year. Early on, it looked like there was going to be a quarterback battle between Hirschman and Connor Wood going into the 2012 season.

However, on Colorado’s post-spring depth chart, Nick Hirschman is listed as injured. Even though Colorado’s depth chart says Hirschman will not miss extended time, the nation will have to wait and see if this gives Wood the opportunity to be the starting quarterback at Colorado in 2012.

Colorado will also need to replace sophomore wide receiver, Paul Richardson. He was the second wide receiver in receiving yards for Colorado in 2011 with 555 yards and threw for five touchdowns. Richardson will miss the entire 2012 season due to a knee injury.

The top two wide receivers for Colorado at this time are Tyler McCulloh (sophomore) and Nelson Spruce (red-shirt freshman).

Key Offensive Injuries:

  • Nick Hirschman (not expected to miss extended time)
  • Malcolm Creer (not expected to miss extended time)
  • Paul Richardson (out for the season)
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