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Winning two conference games in three seasons doesn't give fan bases much hope and with another similar campaign, Mike MacIntyre could be on his way out after his fourth year as head coach. Colorado doesn't have much room for error, but could be starting the season without its projected starting quarterback.
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Sefo Liufau broke his foot last year and still wasn't healthy in the spring, but said he'll be ready for the fall. If he's not, the Buffaloes have a major question that needs answering, especially now that Davis Webb chose to go to California instead. Liufau looked set to be one of the better quarterbacks in the Pac-12 in 2015, but his numbers fell across the board from his breakout sophomore season, and that was partly due to injuries. Either way, he'll need a much better season for Colorado to improve.
His favorite target Nelson Spruce is gone, which could hurt mightily, but Shay Fields (598 yards, 4 TDs) remains with a couple transfers expected to step up in Kabion Ento and Juwann Winfree. Running back is also mostly set with Phillip Lindsay (653 yards, 6 TDs) back and freshman Beau Bisharat, who's expected to see time out of the gates. The offensive line has enough returning talent that it shouldn't be an issue. If Liufau is healthy and can start the first game, Colorado's offense should be better than last year's 24.6 points per game.
The defensive side is where most of the improvement came last season with new coordinator Jim Leavitt taking over. They should be just as good as well with a lot of returning starters on the depth chart.
The secondary was the strength last year, one of the best in the Pac-12, and all of those starters are back led by corner Chidobe Awuzie and safety Tedric Thompson. To go with that, the front seven should be better and more experienced with three linebackers in tow as well as a fairly deep line with tackle Josh Tupou coming back from a suspension. That's good and everything, but this is still a team that won one conference game last year.
Once again, the Buffs will need to take down Colorado State just to get some confidence going. If so, they should start 2-0 before heading to Michigan and Oregon. There will be multiple chances for them to get conference wins though with Oregon State and Arizona State both home games. Even home meetings against Washington State and Utah could bring a win late in the season.
But those only happen if Liufau can make it healthy the entire season and the offense improves around him. If not, the defense may be better, but not good enough to win games by itself.
2016 Colorado Buffaloes Football Schedule
Sept. 2 vs. Colorado State (Mile High)
Sept. 10 vs. Idaho State
Sept. 17 at Michigan
Sept. 24 at Oregon
Oct. 1 vs. Oregon State
Oct. 8 at USC
Oct. 15 vs. Arizona State
Oct. 22 at Stanford
Nov. 3 vs. UCLA
Nov. 12 at Arizona
Nov. 19 vs. Washington State
Nov. 26 vs. Utah
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