Guess it was just one of those days for Dan Hawkins on Monday. He has them occasionally, days when he decides to be a little more forthcoming and straightforward than usual.

There weren't a lot of "We'll see," answers to questions when he met with reporters at the Dal Ward Center.

Not only did Hawkins say he would not bring his son, Cody, into the Colorado program if he had it to do over, but he also acknowledged that he might have been a little too optimistic in the preseason when he challenged his team to win 10 games.

Hawkins pointed to signposts that were there at the beginning of the season that he should have recognized as significant hurdles for the team just to get to the postseason, let alone win 10 games. He pointed to the overall youth of the roster and inexperience on the offensive and defensive lines as being the biggest problems that should have led him to a more cautious approach. Inexperience at wide receiver was another.

But that's not Dan Hawkins.

He called himself a "pie-in-the-sky guy" Monday and "a glass-is-half-full guy" as well. He was speaking to his nature as an optimist, which is what led him down the 10-wins path in the first place.

"I think probably some of that got into my vision," he said. "I think what I try to do is try to force them over the edge a little bit just by my force of will and my belief in them, which I really do."

Colorado football fans have heard about how young their team is for three years now and they've grown tired of the excuse. Turns out, so have a few of the Buffs.

There is no doubt the team is young in a lot of areas. A simple review of the depth chart proves that, but going into the 12th and final game of the season, plenty of experience has been gained and at least a few members of the program are ready to put the youth argument in the rear view.

Wide receiver Scotty McKnight was a little annoyed when the topic came up Monday as he sat with a group of reporters in the varsity room at the Dal Ward Center.

"For me personally, I'm pretty embarrassed with the amount of games we've won," he said. "I know that alumni and fans and all those people that live Colorado football, they're not happy about it either. That's part of our job is to make these people happy with the football program. So I'm going to do everything I can this offseason to make sure we're going in the right direction."

Dan Hawkins and McKnight both mentioned a lack of confidence among players as being a season-long problem. McKnight was asked if the coach setting the bar at 10 wins might have put too much pressure on players and was a mistake in hindsight.

"I don't think it was a mistake," McKnight said. "When he said that, I was like, 'OK, why aren't we going to win 12? Why aren't we going to win 13?' That's one of those things. He's got confidence in us, and quite frankly, in a lot of areas this year, it would have helped if we had more confidence in ourselves."

McKnight and many of his teammates spent last winter, spring and summer talking about how well the offseason went and how dedicated the team had been. McKnight said he still believes last offseason was the best he has experienced in the program, but the bar probably still needs to be set even higher.

"That just means you have to work that much harder," McKnight said. "What you thought was a great offseason, maybe in retrospect wasn't as great as you thought. So we need everyone to be fully invested into this."

Kasa in then out

Hawkins announced during his Monday morning press conference he expected freshman defensive end Nick Kasa to be available for Friday's game. Kasa has been recovering from mononucleosis and an enlarged spleen and has missed the past three games. 

But following the afternoon practice, Kasa told reporters he has no intention of playing against the Cornhuskers and he still hopes to receive a medical redshirt season from the NCAA. Hawkins said he believes a medical redshirt is doubtful because Kasa played beyond the midway point of the season.

Between the hashes

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, Nebraska safety Larry Asante and Nebraska place-kicker Alex Henery were named conference players of the week. ... In his last three games, Missouri wide receiver Danario Alexander has caught 34 passe for 578 yards and five touchdowns. ... Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas finished the season with 1,265 yards, the fourth-most in KSU history. ... Texas safety Earl Thomas has seven interceptions and could set a school record if he steals one against Texas A&M this week. ... The longest streak of bowl eligibility in the conference belongs to Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have been eligible for the postseason for 16 years running.

Who's hot? The Nebraska defense has allowed more than 17 points to be scored against it once all season. The Cornhuskers lead the Big 12 in scoring defense allowing 10.3 points per game.

Who's not? The Baylor offense in the first half of conference games has been outscored 153-26. The Bears have scored a touchdown in one of their first seven conference games in the first half.

On the tube

Colorado's season finale Friday against Nebraska will be televised at 1:30 p.m., on ABC. Here is a look at the rest of the television lineup this week in the conference.

Thursday: Texas at Texas A&M, 6 p.m., ESPN; Saturday: Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, 10:30 a.m., FSN; Missouri vs. Kansas at Kansas City, 1:30 p.m., ABC; Texas Tech vs. Baylor at Arlington, Texas, 4 p.m., FSN.

Heisman watch

A Daily Camera staff member has been voting in the Heisman Trophy selection process every year since the mid-1970s. I just received my ballot in the mail. Normally I have a pretty good idea who I'm going to vote for when the ballot arrives, but this year I could still be swayed in several different directions pretty easily.

Colt McCoy, QB, Texas -- He's finishing strong. Over his past five games, he has completed 77 percent of his passes for 1,487 yards with 14 touchdowns and two interceptions.

Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama -- He played sparingly against Chattanooga and averaged 9.3 yards per carry on 11 attempts. I just don't see the outing helping his cause when others are competing against much better teams.

Case Keenum, QB, Houston -- He has completed 70 percent of his passes for 4,600 yards and 36 touchdowns with just six interceptions. With Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Mississippi State on his schedule he has to be in this conversation.

Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford -- He is a very impressive running back with eight 100-yard rushing games in his last nine outings, but I'm not sure his team has won enough to suggest he deserves consideration as the best player in college football.

Tim Tebow, QB, Florida -- Well, 216 passing yards and 102 rushing yards in the same game would be impressive if it didn't come in November against Florida International.

Others in the mix: Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh; C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson; Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State; Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State; Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas.

Big 12 Power Rankings

(Previous week`s ranking and team`s record in parentheses):

1. Texas (1st/11-0, 7-0) -- Playing a rival on short rest on Thanksgiving won`t be a picnic for Mack Brown and the boys. Shame to spoil that undefeated record before even getting to the conference title game. I think they will come through.

2. Oklahoma State (2nd/9-2, 6-1) -- A nice season for the Cowboys could become a BCS bowl season with a win over in-state rival Oklahoma, provided Texas gets into the national title game.

3. Texas Tech (3rd/7-4, 4-3) -- The Red Raiders proved they belong in the top three with a convincing victory over Oklahoma.

4. Nebraska (7th/8-3, 5-2) -- The Cornhuskers are playing some wicked defense. They might be good enough to give the Longhorns some trouble, but I don`t think the Nebraska offense can play at that level, too.

5. Oklahoma (4th/6-5, 4-3) -- A young offensive line a loads of key injuries. Wait, the Sooners are having Colorado`s 2008 season.

6. Missouri (8th/7-4, 3-4) -- I know I`m repeating myself here, but the Tigers choked away a third straight Big 12 North title when they allowed Nebraska to come back and beat them back on Oct. 8. OK, I won`t mention it again.

7. Kansas State (5th/6-6, 4-4) -- A very good comeback season for Bill Snyder falls one win shy of magical. The Wildcats lose a lot of experience. It will be interesting to see what they become next season.

8. Iowa State (6th/6-6, 3-5) -- The Cyclones ought to be thrilled with being in the top eight in this conference. Now they need to finish the year with a bowl win and a winning record.

9. Texas A&M (11th/6-5, 3-4) -- The Aggies are a dangerous team no one is going to want to play in a bowl. The Longhorns won`t be happy seeing them on Thanksgiving.

10. Kansas (9th/5-6, 1-6) -- What in the world happened to this team? Wasn`t this program just in the Orange Bowl? Next up, a date with its oldest rival.

11. Baylor (10th/4-7, 1-6) -- If the Bears lose this week, and the Buffs win, Baylor will finish the year at the bottom of these rankings, familiar territory for the program.

12. Colorado (12th/3-8, 2-5) -- Buffs fans are starting to understand how Chicago Cubs fans feel. Somehow 10 wins and no excuses (whether it was a direct quote or not) became 3-8 and wait 'til next year.