Optimism rings true among the Colorado Buffaloes football team with five games remaining, but questions still lurk.
“Hopefully, we’ll win all five,” sophomore running back Rodney Stewart said. “Anything’s possible.”
The Colorado Buffaloes are 2-5 overall and 1-2 in the Big 12 Conference as they head into Saturday’s home matchup at 11:30 a.m. against the Missouri Tigers at Folsom Field. CU needs to win four of its last five games to be eligible for a bowl berth.
But the question on many people’s minds is: Who is the Buffs’ No. 1 quarterback?
Junior Cody Hawkins, whose job many thought was nabbed for good by sophomore Tyler Hansen, relieved Hansen last week against the Kansas State Wildcats. Hawkins threw two interceptions; his second coming from KSU’s 2-yard line late in the game.
The decision to reinsert Hawkins was a joint effort by the coaching staff, offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau said.
“We just kind of went with it,” Kiesau said. “It worked out until we got to the end there.”
Hawkins completed 10-of-23 passes for 95 yards while Hansen was 7-of-14 for 89 yards.
Kiesau said Hawkins has “a little more experience and a little more savvy,” which is why the junior received playing time. Kiesau also said Hansen will start against Mizzou (4-3, 0-3), but the possibility of Hawkins stepping onto the field still remains.
“For the most part, Tyler’s running the game and he’s going to play in the game,” Kiesau said. “It’s just if we need to go [to Hawkins] at the end of the half or at the end of the game, then we will.”
Rotating quarterbacks in and out does affect the players, Stewart said.
“You have all this confidence in this guy and this guy comes in and doesn’t do what the other was doing,” Stewart said. “You get mad at the coaches a little bit. But as long as they come in and play good, you really don’t think about it.”
If CU falls to the Tigers, the risk of missing the postseason for the third time in four seasons under head coach Dan Hawkins will increase significantly.
Just don’t mention anything of the sort to junior cornerback Jimmy Smith.
“We’re still striving to win out and go to a bowl game this year,” Smith said.
If the Buffs want to play the Tigers at the right time, it would be Saturday.
Mizzou is coming off three straight losses, the latest a 41-7 drubbing at the hands of the Texas Longhorns. CU lost 38-14 to the Longhorns three weeks ago.
The outcome will likely hinge on whether CU’s defense, which has been a big-play disaster, can contain sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert and his talented receiving core.
“He has a strong arm and some good receivers,” Smith said. “I think we can match up with them well.”
No one said holding at bay a quarterback who has thrown for 1,704 yards and 13 touchdowns would be easy, but Smith said it can be done.
“If we play assignment football, we can win,” Smith said. “Every week’s a challenge in the Big 12.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alex K.W. Schultz at Alexander.firstname.lastname@example.org.