The Buffs have reached the midway point of the 2010 football season with as many wins as they claimed all of last season.
Bowl hopes remain alive, very much alive when considering the coming competition includes three very winnable home games and a road game against a dreadful Kansas team.
And there are some talented young players on this season`s team whom coach Dan Hawkins deserves credit for recruiting.
Yet, dissatisfaction with the program has never been higher in Hawkins` tenure.
The Buffs are
The team hasn`t been competitive on the road, let alone given itself a chance to win.
Special teams play is inconsistent at best and frightful at worst.The offense looks dangerous one week and stagnant the next.
The defense remains, by far, the strength of the team, but continues to give up too many big plays.
Hawkins doesn`t do himself any favors with hokie coaching decisions such as attempting 2-point conversions for no good reason in the first quarter of a home game. Maybe he could sell it if it came on the road where he has won twice in his time guiding the Buffs.
It doesn`t help that Minnesota fired coach Tim Brewster over the weekend. Brewster was hired a year after Hawkins and won only four fewer games, yet leadership there decided it was time for him to go after the Gophers began this season 1-6 with the latest loss coming to Purdue.
The willingness to make a midseason change in Minneapolis, hardly the epicenter of college football, fuels frustrations of Colorado fans and makes the leadership at CU appear indecisive by comparison.
It seems a dramatic turn of events would have to occur in the second half of the season for Hawkins to stave off his firing once again as he did last November. There is still a lot of football to be played regardless of who is coaching the team.
Here is a look at where the Buffs stand entering the second half of 2010 and their final six games in the their affiliation with the Big 12.
What has gone well: Don`t look now, but the Buffs actually rank in the top half of the Football Bowl Subdivision in a major offensive statistical category. While it still struggles on the road, the running game has improved and ranks 57th nationally averaging 155 yards per game.
Tailback Rodney Stewart has been a workhorse and is quickly moving up the school`s career rushing list. The offensive line is playing its best football since the 2007 season. It started when coaches finally settled on a consistent starting five in Week 3.
What needs to be fixed: Quarterback play remains inconsistent, especially when comparing performances at home and on the road. The entire offense seems to struggle on the road and the best way to change that trend is for Tyler Hansen to start making more game-changing plays on the road the way he does at home. For Hansen to take the next step as a player, he has to improve here and force improvement from his teammates as well.
Pleasant surprise: There are two. Redshirt freshman right tackle David Bakhtiari has been solid after being thrust into the starting role from the beginning. Bakhtiari gets a little better each week and looks like he will be a fixture on the line for another three years.
Wide receiver Paul Richardson is starting to earn more opportunities and might be the most exciting player on the roster when he has the ball in his hands. Another 3½ seasons of watching him play will be a treat for Buffs fans.
What has gone well: The Buffs have been difficult to run against. Prior to giving up 309 rushing yards to Baylor last Saturday, the Buffs ranked 20th nationally against the run. They fell to 47th. They have some stiff tests coming in the second half of the season from Oklahoma, Kansas State and Nebraska and will need to do better than they fared against the Bears.
What needs to be fixed: The Buffs still are generating the number of turnovers they targeted at the beginning of the season, three per game. They are also giving up too many big plays, though they have made improvement over last year. Change those two areas for the better and this will begin to be a dominant defense.
Pleasant surprise: Junior Josh Hartigan came out of nowhere to become a starter at defensive end -- the Buffs` best pass rusher after several years of searching for his niche on defense. Freshman defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe is earning more and more playing time and freshman safety Jered Bell played well in his first significant action after Anthony Perkins suffered a season-ending injury.
What has gone well: Freshman punter Zach Grossnickle has done a decent job in his first six games. He is averaging 40 yards per punt and has had just two touchbacks. Coaches ask Grossnickle to execute conventional punts and rugby style kicks depending on field position and game situation.
What needs to be fixed: Where to start? Place-kicking remains a weekly adventure. The Buffs have made three of seven field goal attempts. CU has given up too many big returns and was burned in the first half of the season by a fake punt and several blocked kicks. The Buffs have to be more consistent and fundamentally sound here.
Pleasant surprise: The kickoff return team consistently provides decent field position and has multiple players capable of handling the job now that Brian Lockridge has been lost for the season. Toney Clemons, Travon Patterson and Arthur Jaffee each have proven reliable and capable of taking it the distance.