Colorado Buffaloes Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

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Colorado Buffaloes Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Colorado season with what you need to know and keys to the season.

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Colorado Buffaloes Preview
Head Coach: Karl Dorrell, 3rd year at Colorado, 8-10
8th year overall, 43-37, 2021 Preview
2021 Record: Overall: 4-8, Conference: 3-6
Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Colorado Top 10 Players | Schedule & Analysis

Colorado Buffaloes Preview 2022

Is this going to be one of those years when everyone blows off Colorado and then something big happens?

2020 was weird in every way for the Pac-12, but the Buffaloes still managed to push through for a 4-2 season with a bowl appearance.

The 2016 team wasn’t expected to do anything coming off a four-win season, and then came the 10-win run on the way to a Pac-12 Championship appearance.

That might be a little extreme, and it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing thing with the 2022 Buffaloes. Just being good enough to go bowling would be enough.

There might be a ton of key losses through the transfer portal, and this isn’t going to be one of the spotlight teams in the Pac-12 South, but there are more than enough good parts and improvements among the starting 22 to be better than most will likely expect.

It’ll take a big change, though. It wasn’t just that Colorado went 4-8, it’s that it wasn’t all that close in most of the losses and struggled WAY too much on …

Colorado Buffaloes Preview 2022: Offense

The O couldn’t keep things moving. The Buffs had the second-worst offense in college football averaging just 257 yards per game, the 18.8 points per game doesn’t tell the whole story with the consistency, and there wasn’t any semblance of a decent passing attack to get back in games when things weren’t working.

So yes, there are some personnel losses and changes from last year, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It starts with …

The offensive line has to give everyone more time to work. There’s some shuffling, getting tackle Tommy Brown from Alabama should help, and the starting five might quietly grow into a positive with a little bit of time. Now the pass protection and ground attack have to follow.

Leading rusher Jarek Broussard is off to Michigan State, but the rest of the backs return and Sam Houston State transfer Ramon Jefferson – almost 2,000 yards in two years – should quickly become the main man. Now …

Who’s taking over at quarterback? It was a huge setback for the offense when Tennessee transfer JT Shrout was hurt last offseason with a major knee injury and couldn’t go. Brendon Lewis was fine, but the downfield passing game wasn’t there. Lewis can run, he’s experienced, and he’s careful with the ball, but Shrout is the better pure passer.

It wasn’t necessarily a plus that TE Brady Russell led the team in receiving – he made just 25 catches and didn’t score. He’s back, and there are wholesale changes with top WR Brenden Rice going to USC and Dimitri Stanley off to Iowa State, but landing Baylor transfer RJ Sneed might be an upgrade – he’ll stretch the field – around several young parts with the upside to do a lot more.

Colorado Buffaloes Preview 2022: Defense

The defense didn’t get any help from the offense, but it also didn’t do enough to help the cause. The run D struggled, there weren’t enough takeaways, and the pass rush was lacking. That last part was addressed this offseason, and if that starts to kick in, the D that finished last in the Pac-12 in sacks and next-to-last in total defense should rise up fast. That starts with …

The pass rush – it has to show up. Terrance Lang is a big end who fits more in a 3-4 system, but he has to get behind the line more. The tackles are 300+ pounders in.a rotation that should be fine, the outside linebackers have to help with more pressure.

Leading playmaker behind the line Carson Wells is gone from his hybrid role, but the focus on being more disruptive should turn the linebackers loose around top returning tackling LB Quinn Perry. But …

It’s not necessarily a positive that the defense backs made so many plays last year, but they can hit. Leading tackler Isaiah Lewis is back at one safety spot, but big hitter Mark Perry is off to TCU, good corner Mekhi Blackmon is at USC, and fellow corner Christian Gonzalez bolted for Oregon. It’s going to be a young secondary, but as long as the pass rush improves, this group should be okay with a little time.

Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Colorado Top 10 Players | Schedule & Analysis

Colorado Buffaloes: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT

Colorado Buffaloes: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats

Colorado Buffaloes: Key To The 2022 Offense

Just get the chains moving.

The running game didn’t go anywhere, the passing attack couldn’t convert on third downs, and the steady production wasn’t there. On the plus side, the offense didn’t turn the ball over enough to matter, but it’ll have to take a few more chances and risks to open it all up a bit more.

Converting on third down will change everything.

The Buffaloes only connected on 32% of their tries after converting on 43% in 2020. There were some rough times over the years, but the 32% was by far the worst since the 2012 team couldn’t do anything in a 1-11 season.

Just get to 40ish% – Colorado did that just three times after ripping through Northern Colorado – and the offense will be far better.

Colorado Buffaloes: Key To The 2022 Defense

Yeah, the pass rush.

Again – from earlier in this – the pass rush has been addressed this offseason as a main focus in spring ball, and it should be better. At least that’s the hope.

Colorado came up with three sacks in the opener against Northern Colorado, and it came up with three late in the year against Washington. It also came up with two against a hapless Arizona offensive line. It only generated five in the other nine games.

The Buffaloes came up with 36 sacks in 2016, but the production hasn’t been consistent since then. The 2020 team managed 16 sacks in the six games – coming up with three or more in three games – and last year’s D generated just 13 and failed to come up with more than three in any game.

Get to the quarterback more, and everything else should start to work better.

Colorado Buffaloes: Key Player To The 2022 Season

QB JT Shrout, Jr.
Is the former Tennessee transfer’s knee okay? He was able to start working back into the mix this spring, and if he’s right, the downfield passing game should start to kick in.

If it’s not Shrout, Brendon Lewis isn’t a bad option. He’s got experience, he’s a careful-good decision maker, and he can run. However, he’s not going to throw and push the passing game – Colorado had the worst passing offense in the Pac-12 – like a healthy Shrout can.

It will also help if the O can get something big out of …

Colorado Buffaloes: Key Transfer

WR RJ Sneed, Sr.
Sam Houston State RB Ramon Jefferson might be the star of the offense, but Sneed will likely be the most important get.

Colorado didn’t get much of anything out of its wide receivers last year, and yet the best of the bunch took off for other schools. The O needs a dangerous No. 1 target and deep threat to keep defensive coordinators up at night, and that’s Sneed.

No, he didn’t crank up the yards per catch at Baylor – averaging 12 yards per grab – with 133 catches for 1,565 yards and eight scores.

Colorado Key Game To The 2022 Season

TCU, Sept. 2
The Horned Frogs are undergoing an overhaul with a new head coach, a bigger passing offense, and a new energy as they’ll be looking at the season opener as a way to jumpstart the program. But it’s a home game for Colorado, and it’s a big one.

Lose this, and with road games at Air Force and Minnesota to follow, this might be a rocky start to the season before diving into Pac-12 play against UCLA. Beating TCU doesn’t mean Colorado will win the tough games coming up, but lose, and the pressure will be ramped up to a whole other level.

Colorado Buffaloes: 2021 Fun Stats

– Sacks: Opponents 32 for 211 yards – Colorado 15 for 47 yards
– Time of Possession: Opponents 32:48 – Colorado 27:12
– Turnovers: Opponents 13 – Colorado 6

O, D BreakdownSeason Prediction, What Will Happen
Colorado Top 10 Players | Schedule & Analysis

Colorado Buffaloes Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT

Colorado Buffaloes Season Prediction, What Will Happen

Seriously, Colorado? You couldn’t schedule a Cream Puff A&M or Cupcake State somewhere on the slate?

For a team that’s undergoing a bit of an overhaul and could and should be good with a little bit of warm-up time, there’s no break whatsoever on the slate.

Colorado will be better than the 2021 version, and it’s always dangerous to assume there isn’t going to be a surprise somehow or a collapse somewhere else to make it all work out just fine, but where’s the 100% sure-thing win?

The Arizona game – the Wildcats should be far stronger – is on the road. There’s no Stanford or Washington State from the North, which leaves, what?

Cal? This is a good Bear team that should be solid. Arizona State? Maybe. At Oregon State?

Set The Colorado Buffaloes Regular Season Win Total At … 4.5

But let’s not get too much into the doom and gloom. Colorado should have the talent to get by Air Force on the road, it can beat TCU if the offense is strong right away, and there will be a few games when everything works and the Pac-12 team on the other side doesn’t have it.

Again, the problem is the schedule – there’s no base of certain wins to count on.

Now, beat TCU and Air Force to kick things off, and everything changes and Colorado will project to be a bowl-bound team. But until then, considering all the 50/50 games – and worse – this might be a better team without the great record to show for it.

Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
Colorado Top 10 Players | Schedule & Analysis

2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams

Story originally appeared on College Football News