Hawaii Football: Early Preview of the Colorado Buffaloes

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Pack your bags, Warriors fans, we're going on our first road trip of 2014.

After the first three games in their home confines of Aloha Stadium, Norm Chow and the Warriors will be jetting off to the mainland to take on the Colorado Buffaloes. It's also the third and final match-up with a Pac-12 opponent this season, a conference they haven't had a win against since 2011 (Also their last win against a Power 5 school.). Here's an early look at the Buffs and how they'll matchup up against the Warriors.

COACH: Mike MacIntyre

After splitting his four years of college football between Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech, MacIntyre spent the next 20 years bouncing around different assistant coaching jobs before landing the San Jose State job in 2010. He would lead the Spartans to their first ten-win season since 1987, two years after winning just one game in his first year in San Jose. Thanks to that, he landed the Colorado job in 2013. Although the Buffs won just four games last year, that was more than what they won the previous two years combined, so there may be progress coming in Folsom.

CONFERENCE: Pac-12 (South)

LOCATION: Folsom, Colorado

STADIUM: Folsom Field

2013 SCHEDULE/RECORD:

Date Opponent Result Record
Sunday, September 1 Colorado State* W 41-27 (1-0)
Saturday, September 7 Central Arkansas W 38-24 (2-0)
Saturday, September 14 Fresno State Cancelled^
Saturday, September 21 BYE N/A
Saturday, September 28 @ Oregon State L 17-44 (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12)
Saturday, October 5 Oregon L 16-57 (2-2, 0-2 Pac-12)
Saturday, October 12 @ Arizona State L 13-54 (2-3, 0-3 Pac-12)
Saturday, October 19 Charleston Southern W 43-10 (3-3, 0-3 Pac-12)
Saturday, October 26 Arizona L 20-44 (3-4, 0-4 Pac-12)
Saturday, November 2 @ UCLA L 23-45 (3-5, 0-5 Pac-12)
Saturday, November 9 @ Washington L 7-59 (3-6, 0-6 Pac-12)
Saturday, November 16 California W 41-24 (4-6, 1-6 Pac-12)
Saturday, November 23 USC L 29-47 (4-7, 1-7 Pac-12)
Saturday, November 30 @ Utah L 17-24 (4-8, 1-8 Pac-12)

*Game against Colorado State was played at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, CO

^Game against Fresno State was cancelled due to Colorado Flash Floods

FIVE PLAYERS YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING OUT FOR:

1. Addision Gillam, Sophomore Linebacker, (6-3, 225), 2013 Stats: 119 total tackles, 10 TFL, 5 pass breakups, 3 sacks

On an otherwise weak defense, Gillam shined in his first year at Colorado, racking up a team leading 119 tackles and 10 tackles for loss, the first freshman in CU history to accomplish that feat since tackles were first tracked in 1964. For his efforts, he was a unanimous Freshman All-american pick in 2013, and looks to improve in his sophomore year with another stellar season.

2. Nelson Spruce, Junior Wide Receiver, (6-1, 195), 2013 Stats: 55 receptions, 650 yards, 4 TDs

With the departure of Paul Richardson for the NFL, QB Sefo Liufau needs a new #1 receiving target for 2013, and the obvious choice is Junior Nelson Spruce. Spruce hauled in 55 catches for 650 yards last year, good for second on the team. His best performance came against California at the end of the year, grabbing eight catches for a career high 140 yards in the Buffs 41-24 win.

3. Greg Henderson, Senior Cornerback, (5-11, 185), 2013 Stats: 68 total tackles, 10 pass breakups, 4 interceptions, 1TD

The leader of the Buffs veteran secondary, Henderson is one of three seniors in coverage for CU, and although they ranked second to last in pass defense in the Pac-12, he was a bright spot on their back four. He broke up a team leading 10 passes (2nd in P12) and picked off four passes in 2013.

4. Sefo Liufau, Sophomore Quarterback, (6-4, 230), 2013 Stats: 1,779 yards, 59.4% completion rate, 12 TDs, 8 interceptions

After Connor Wood had a slow start in conference play in 2013, Liufau took over the last seven games of the season. He threw for 1,779 yards and 12 scores last year, with his best performance coming against Cal, completin 64% of his passes and 3 touchdowns for 364 yards. This year, Liufau and Addison Gillam are the first sophomore permanent captains in CU history. Now with a year of experience under his belt, Liufau looks primed to lead the Buffs offense in 2014.

5. Will Oliver, Senior Kicker, (5-11, 190), 2013 Stats: 17-24 FG, 30-30 XP, Long of 53 yards

A Groza Award semi-finalist in 2013, Oliver is back for his final year in Folsom as the Buffs starting kicker. His best performance came against in-state rival CSU, nailing 4/4 field goals and three extra point as CU went on to beat the Rams 41-27.

OFFENSIVE OVERVIEW:

The biggest weapon the Buffs will miss in 2014 is Wide Receiver Paul Richardson (83 recs, 1,343 yards, 10 TDs in '13), but the should be able to replace a good chunk of those yards in Nelson Spruce and DD Goodson. Sefo Liufau was able to set CU true freshman records in completions and touchdown passes through eight games, I imagine a full, healthy season at Quarterback would help him improve upon his 2013 numbers and raise the Buffs offense a little in the Pac-12. On the ground, Christian Powell and Michael Adkins split carries last season for over 1,000 yards and will lead the Buffs rushing attack in 2014.

DEFENSIVE OVERVIEW:

With eight starters coming back on the defensive side of the ball, there should be some improvement in the Buffs defensive numbers overall. Three returning starters in coverage makes their secondary one of the most experienced secondaries in the conference, and should be able to bring down their pass defense numbers. The front seven should make up one of the best rush defenses in Pac-12, with five starters back there including Freshman All-American Addison Gillam in the middle.

EARLY PREDICTION:


A healthy Sefo Liufau means the Buffs will move up the Pac-12 rankings and should omprove off their four win total from 2013. CU's receivers will have a slight size advantage over the Hawaii defensive backs as well, so they should have some success through the air against the Warriors. Hawaii's offense can have success if Joey Ioesefa remains healthy in 2014, especially against the CU defense that gave up 200-plus rushing yards a game last season. This one will be a shootout, but I think the home team hangs on to win this one. Colorado 44, Hawaii 38

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