Here, we’ll take a look at one area where each team in the Big 12 can expect to succeed and another that needs improvement.
Next up: Colorado
Weak: Running back
Rodney Stewart rushed for a respectable 804 yards in 2009, topping 100 yards in five games. But Stewart’s backups, Darrell Scott and Demetrius Sumler, both left Boulder in the offseason, leaving Dan Hawkins with just three scholarship backs to employ during spring practice. Outside of Stewart, Brian Lockridge is the only one with experience, and he carried the ball just 12 times for 53 yards in 2009.
Colorado was 11th in the Big 12 in total rushing yards last season, but averaged more than half a yard less per carry than any other team in the conference and rushed for the fewest touchdowns (14). Hardly anyone uses just one running back anymore, and Stewart will need help from someone when the season arrives. If no one can give it to him, and Stewart is forced to miss time with injury, 2010 could be another long year for Colorado, which finished 3-9 overall and 2-6 in Big 12 play last year.
Strong: Left tackle
Nate Solder enters his junior season as a two-year starter at tackle after transitioning to the position from tight end. Solder earned All-Big 12 honors as a junior, but even at 6-foot-9 and 305 pounds, he can’t block all 11 players lined up across from him. His unit gave up 44 sacks in 2009, 12 more than any other team in the conference.
Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner returns after missing much of 2009 with knee injuries, and JUCO transfer Eric Richter, a 6-foot-4, 315-pounder from California, could inject some hope into the rest of the Buffaloes' line.
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