Colorado Buffaloes head coach Dan Hawkins might be regretting his “10 wins and no excuses” pitch he planted in the minds of CU players and fans nine months ago.
Flash back to December at the team’s senior banquet when Hawkins confidently – and perhaps prematurely – said, “I believe 100 percent, I put it on our team, I am going to tell you right here publicly, I expect to win 10 games next year,” according to an August issue of the Daily Camera.
Flash forward to Saturday when the Buffs, now 0-2 with 10 games remaining, will entertain the 1-1 Wyoming Cowboys at Folsom Field.
“I think every team goes into the season expecting to win every game,” said Buffs senior linebacker Jeff Smart.
Hawkins, who is 13-26 in his fourth season at CU, was unavailable for comment.
CU’s defense has been the team’s Achilles heel this season, with the Buffs allowing 1,000 yards of offense on 128 plays. A mere 16 of those plays have accounted for a whopping 676 yards.
Last week against the Toledo Rockets in Ohio, CU surrendered 54 points and 624 yards in an embarrassing 16-point loss. Rockets senior quarterback, Aaron Opelt, tossed for four touchdowns of 8, 23, 26 and 70 yards, and rushed for two more of 27 and 61 yards.
“We’ve given up a lot of big plays,” said CU defensive coordinator Ron Collins. “We’ve had teams make plays on us. It just seems like things have snowballed on us a little bit in the first two games.”
Collins called CU’s defense a “work in progress” because the unit is full of youth.
“In the first two games, we probably played eight or so guys, this is their first year playing,” Collins said. “That’s no excuse. The guys have to be ready to go.”
Is the Buffs’ inexperience the source of the problem?
“It’s not hurting us because we’re going to get better as the weeks go on, and so we look at it as an opportunity to get better,” Collins said. “For some of those guys, it’s the first time they’ve seen action, and they will. They’ll get better.”
Collins will match wits this weekend against Wyoming offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo, whose offense has garnered 707 yards in two games against Weber State and Texas this season.
Arroyo has shown his fondness for the two-quarterback system, as junior Robert Benjamin (24-for-52 passing) and freshman Austyn Carta-Samuels (15-for-29 passing) have combined for 376 passing yards. Benjamin, a dual threat behind center, also has 85 rushing yards this season.
“We definitely have a game plan for them,” Collins said. “It’s definitely going to be different than Toledo, and hopefully the outcome’s different.”
Perhaps more daunting is the Wyoming defense, which held Texas quarterback Colt McCoy and the ever-so-powerful Longhorns offense to just 13 first-half points last week. Six Cowboys have already chalked up 10 tackles or more this season.
Other problems for the team have come in both the passing and running games.
Not one CU running back has eclipsed the 100-yard mark yet this season. Sophomore tailback Darrell Scott has been the Buff to come the closest, gaining 85 yards on 12 rushing attempts last week vs. Toledo.
Junior quarterback Cody Hawkins has thrown for 580 yards for five touchdowns this fall, but has also been intercepted four times.
Ryan Miller, a 6-foot-8, 320-pound sophomore offensive lineman, said the team is fine.
“We’re good. We’re physically fit,” Miller said. “We’re just ready for things to connect. Things are going to click.”
The two schools will meet for the first time since 1997 when CU needed a 99-yard kickoff return, a fumble and a last-second field goal to beat the Cowboys 20-19 at Folsom Field.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alex K.W. Schultz at Alexander.email@example.com.