The Colorado football program played a total of 28 true freshmen over the past two seasons combined -- 13 in 2012 and 15 in 2011 -- and the Buffs led the nation in games started by true freshmen last season with 57.
It could be headed for another double-digit total in coach Mike MacIntyre's first season.
MacIntyre spelled out the criteria he uses for deciding whether to play a true freshman during his media day press conference Saturday afternoon following a morning practice.
He said there are two basic areas he considers before playing a true freshman. Is the player physically and mentally prepared to play and will he play a significant number of plays if coaches put him on the field?
"I look at numbers of plays," MacIntyre said. "I look at where they would fit in. I look at if so-and-so got hurt in the fifth game, would he be ready to do it then? Is he better than the other guy? So there are all these scenarios."
Former CU coach Rick Neuheisel visited CU camp earlier this week in his role as an analyst for the Pac-12 Network and said a big part of the Buffs' struggles the past two years has been having too many true freshmen on the field against older players on other teams.
"How many freshmen were on the field last year?" Neuheisel asked. "That means they're not developed. That means they haven't had a year of strength and conditioning. Not only are they not ready for it, but it damages their confidence because it's such a hard game to play.
"So to be able to redshirt guys and get them up to speed nutritionally and strength- and conditioning-wise, not to mention academically, that's a huge deal."
Not much is expected of the Buffs this season from those outside the program because the team was beaten so soundly in so many games last year. Given that fact, Neuheisel was asked if it would behoove MacIntyre and the long-term future of the program to resist playing so many true freshmen this fall.
"I'm not going to tell him what he should and shouldn't do," Neuheisel said. "He's going to have to see who is ready and who is not, but the facts of the matter are, no one can argue that guys with a year under their belt usually perform better."
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