Tyler Hansen's college football career hasn't exactly gone as planned, but there is still time and opportunity left for creating plenty of great memories and leaving Colorado a winner.

He is taking the first steps toward that goal now in the winter conditioning program and in seven-on-seven practices with his teammates.

The next big step, maybe the biggest challenge of all, arrives a month from today when spring football practices begin for the Buffs.

Hansen would normally be considered a heavy favorite to earn the starting quarterback role, entering his senior year against a group of other signal callers who are less experienced than him.

Tyler Hansen on the run against Georgia.Cliff Grassmick / October 2, 2010
Tyler Hansen on the run against Georgia. Cliff Grassmick / October 2, 2010 ( Cliff Grassmick )

But he is coming off a serious injury last fall and will be learning a brand new offense under a new coaching staff, effectively putting him on equal footing with junior transfer Brent Burnette and redshirt freshman Nick Hirschman.

Even true freshman Stevie Dorman, who is scheduled to arrive this summer, might be a threat, considering Dorman played his entire high school career in a similar system to what CU coaches are designing.

Hansen carries a simple philosophy about facing competition for the starting job.

"It's nothing new," he said.

He has spent the past three years competing with former Buff Cody Hawkins, the son of former head coach Dan Hawkins, for the job each year, and he successfully earned the job for half of twoof those years and part of the other.


Advertisement

Hansen became the starter midway through his sophomore season in 2009 when things weren't working for Hawkins.

He retained the job until the midway point of last fall when he suffered a ruptured spleen on an option play against Texas Tech. He didn't play again the rest of the season.

Watching how Hansen reacts to contact will surely be one of the more interesting parts of the first practices in which players are allowed to tackle. Hansen says he is 100 percent healthy and doesn't expect it to be an issue.

He is more concerned with learning the system coach Jon Embree, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and passing game coordinator J.D. Brookhart put in place, as well as learning from a third quarterbacks coach, Rip Scherer, during his four years in Boulder.

"I like it actually," Hansen said. "Different opinions will make you better. The more opinions the better. I think the different techniques to coaching help. Coach (Mark) Helfrich was a hands-on guy, and coach (Eric) Kiesau was a lot different than that. I'm looking forward to coach Scherer and seeing what his techniques are to coaching."

Hansen said he has started to learn the offense in recent weeks, but the coaches are still refining the playbook and he and other players won't truly be able to sink their teeth into it until they get on the field in March and April.

He said he has been watching clips of some parts of the offenses used by the Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins and Texas Longhorns last year.

The new coaching staff features former staffers from each of those programs and organizations and pieces of what each offense did will be included in what the Buffs do in 2011 and beyond.

Hansen said while he already knows there will be significant differences to what he was asked to do last year under Hawkins and Kiesau, the differences aren't a big concern.

"I'm not really worried about that," Hansen said. "I've done a lot of things. I've done the zone reads, I've played in a pro-style offense. I've been under center. I've done hard play action. I've done all those things.

"So I think whatever they ask me to do, I can do it. In high school, all of my stuff was under center. In college, most of it is in the gun. So I can do multiple things and I'm looking forward to what they bring and I'm looking forward to the challenge. It's going to be fun."

Hansen will enter his senior season with 2,822 career passing yards, 15 touchdowns and 17 interceptions to his credit.

He hopes to be the starter and add to the yards and touchdowns in a major way.

He understands he will have to earn it, but he says that is nothing new either.

"I've really got to be a leader even more than I already have," Hansen said. "I've got to invest myself in the offense and really learn the offense pretty good because the old offense we had last year, I knew inside and out. 

"I've got to be the same way with this offense. If I do that, I think I can have a pretty good shot at being a leader and a playmaker on this team."