If the 2010 college football season started today, Tyler Hansen would be the starting quarterback for Colorado.
The football program released the first new depth chart of spring ball prior to Saturday's spring game at Folsom Field with few surprises outside of Hansen being listed ahead of Cody Hawkins. The two had been considered even in practices and scrimmages leading up to the game.
The depth chart could change again once coaches have reviewed film of the spring game, but during the course of the contest in which Hansen's Gold team beat Hawkins' Black team 37-27, Hansen appeared to be the more complete player.
Hansen didn't know he had been listed atop the depth chart until reporters informed him after the game.
"Really? OK, cool," Hansen said. "That feels good. It feels real good. I mean any time you can be on top of something, win the competition for right now, it feels real good. It means I'm doing something right.”
Hansen's team came to midfield prior to the start of the game and performed the Haka dance, gesturing toward the Black team sideline. The Black team sprawled on the ground in unison and acting as if it was lounging in the sun and didn't have a care in the world.
The playful antics were part of an overall improvement to the atmosphere and competitive nature of the game, thanks to coaches deciding to divide the program in two and treat the entire afternoon like a real game. The program had used a “first team versus the second team” approach in the recent past.
“They finished up on a really good note and had a pretty good spring,” coach Dan Hawkins said of the entire team. Hawkins did not participate in the Haka dance but said he thought it was really cool.
Hawkins said too much focus is placed on the depth chart by the public and the media. He made it clear no decisions are written in stone at this point when asked about the quarterbacks.
“We'll figure that out when we get closer to Colorado State,” he said referring to the season opener Sept. 4.
The quarterbacks' statistics are similar in the box score, but what doesn't necessarily show up are the plays Hansen makes with his feet either avoiding pass rushers or on designed runs. Hansen's team also ran the ball better, in part, because of his ability to run off the read option. The junior did a superior job spreading the ball around.
Hansen completed at least three passes to four different receivers. Hawkins focused almost exclusively on walk-on wide receiver Kyle Cefalo, a former high school teammate in Idaho.
To Cefalo's credit, he was consistently able to get open against members of CU's starting secondary such as Jalil Brown and Parker Orms. He finished with 12 catches for 144 yards, leading all receivers in the game. The only other player on the Black team with more than two receptions was fellow walk-on Dustin Ebner, who had three.
Hawkins completed 20 of 26 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. One of his scoring throws went to tackle Nate Solder on a tackle-eligible play. Hansen completed 17 of 22 passes for 170 yards and three scores, two of them went to redshirt freshman tight end DaVaughn Thornton.
“That guy is a stud,” Hansen said. “That guy is awesome. He's a big guy. He can run and he can catch the ball pretty good, too. He's just trying to get the mental part and today he was good. Today he was solid.”
Overall, it was a decent day for the offense, which had struggled at times this spring, especially considering it was missing a handful of key players such as Rodney Stewart, Markques Simas, Scotty McKnight, Ryan Miller and Bryce Givens.
However, the final score and some of the statistics are misleading. The score was just 17-7 heading into the fourth quarter, but several big plays came late including a 65-yard touchdown run from quarterback Seth Lobato and an 83-yard touchdown pass from Nick Hirschman to Andre Simmons.
“Confidence is always a combination of little successes,” Dan Hawkins said. “Any time you can catch the ball or move the ball or complete the ball or run the ball, that gives those guys a little bit more feeling towards what they can get done.”