The 2011 season is over. That means report cards are due.
Up next: Colorado
Offense: The Buffaloes ranked last in the Pac-12 in scoring offense (19.8 points per game) and 11th in total offense (346.3 yards per game). They ranked ninth in rushing (108.7 ypg) and 12th in passing efficiency. Three times the Buffs didn't reach double digits. So not much went right this season on offense, despite having a veteran QB in Tyler Hansen, a proven rusher in Rodney Stewart and a nice combo at receiver in Paul Richardson and Toney Clemons. The offensive line was surprisingly poor: The Buffs gained 3.5 yards per rush and yielded 31 sacks, which ranked ninth in the conference. The worrisome thing is the unit looks like it will be rebuilding in 2012 with just four starters back.
Defense: Colorado ranked last in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (36.5 ppg) and 11th in total defense (439.3 ypg). It was bad against the run and pass, ranking last in pass efficiency defense. It forced 15 turnovers, fewest in the conference. It was last in the conference in red zone defense, with opponents scoring TDs on 45 of 60 red zone trips. Injuries were an issue, most notably LB Douglas Rippy blowing out his knee at Washington on Oct. 15. There is good news, however. Seven starters will be back in 2012, and there's some intriguing youth that should take a step forward.
Overall: Look at those grades. Bad, huh? But guess what? The Buffaloes, who played a 13-game, no-bye schedule that was among the toughest in the country, were statistically worse than their season actually was. No, going 3-10 is not good by any measure. And the numbers are hard to spin -- 109th in the nation in scoring offense and defense. But Colorado won two of its last three games, including an impressive effort in a win at Utah that ended a 24-game losing streak outside the state. The question is can coach Jon Embree parlay that small bit of success into offseason momentum, both in recruiting and offseason workouts? And can that then carry over into a strong spring session that inspires some confidence within the program?