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Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Midseason review: Colorado

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Colorado Buffaloes

Record: 2-4, 1-1 in Big 12

So much for Coach Dan Hawkins’ grandiose self-imposed benchmark of 10 wins and no excuses. The Buffaloes disqualified themselves from that goal before the first month of the season was over, placing Hawkins on one of the hottest seats in the nation. Nationally televised losses to Colorado State, Toledo, West Virginia and Texas showed the Buffaloes struggling against athletic opponents -- not boding well for the rest of the season against the Big 12. But things seemingly changed when Hawkins benched his son, quarterback Cody Hawkins. Backup Tyler Hansen engineered an impressive victory over Kansas last week that was clearly Colorado’s top offensive performance of the season. The Buffaloes still rank 100th or worse in eight statistical categories including total offense, scoring defense, net punting, rushing and passing efficiency. They won’t win their predicted 10 games, but a favorable schedule should keep them in the North Division title hunt longer than most would have expected earlier this season.

Most valuable offensive player, RB Rodney Stewart: The undersized Stewart has been compared to Darren Sproles because of his shifty running style. He’s been the most consistent offense weapon for the Buffaloes, rushing for 418 yards and five touchdowns. Since missing the Toledo game, he has responded by rushing for 100 yards or more in three of his next four games to give a spark to Colorado’s flagging ground game.

Most valuable defensive player, LB Jeff Smart: The heady Smart has been the Buffaloes leading tackler, producing 58 stops in six games. He’s also notched five third-down stops, broken up three passes and notched a sack as the most consistent producer on the Buffaloes’ defense. Smart will need some help if Colorado has any hopes of contending for a Big 12 title.