September 11, 2007

Speedy Florida State team up next for CU

BOULDER, Colo. - The Florida State football program has suffered a steady decline over the course of the past six years. After finishing 7-6 in 2006, the Seminoles brought in highly respected offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher and three other new assistant coaches.

While Florida State has not lived up to the high expectations of their fans in recent years, the program has continued to sign top ranked recruiting classes. The Seminoles still field one of the fastest teams in the country.

"They can all run," Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins said when asked about Florida State's impressive team speed. "Particularly as you look at them on defense, their front four guys can all motor. They have always had great skill guys with speed, and they still do have that, but you look at all 11 guys on defense and they all can run. I know they had their offensive linemen thin down a little bit in the off-season so I think they are trying to stress that on the offensive line as well."

According to Hawkins, the Seminoles are much faster than the Arizona State team that just beat the Buffs by 19 points.

"We are just going to have to be very detailed and execute," Hawkins said. "It is hard. You have a lot of guys that can run to the ball on defense and you have to make sure you get a hat on a guy and be real aggressive about what you are doing. If you don't, they are going to swarm you up."

On the subject of speed, two of the Buffaloes' faster players are expected to return to action this Saturday. Senior tailback Hugh Charles has been out since tweaking his hamstring early in the season opener against Colorado State and freshman wide receiver Josh Smith has been sidelined since injuring his kidney in the team's second scrimmage of preseason.

"It helps," starting quarterback Cody Hawkins said of the expected return of Charles and Smith. "Even if they were Joe Schmo, it is another guy to have doing reps and competing in practice. But, as you guys know, those guys aren't Joe Schmo. Josh is a great player and it is going to be awesome for him to get back in the mix. And Hugh is a leader for us and he is a very dynamic back so he'll give us the ability to do a lot more things on offense."

Elevation advantage for the Buffaloes

The Seminoles will be playing 5,156 feet higher than they are used to. The elevation of Tallahassee, Florida, is just 188 feet above sea level. How much of an advantage is that for the Buffaloes?

"There is probably a little bit of an edge there," said Coach Hawkins. "But it is not like you are running a marathon or a 10K and that is a big, huge issue. They've got plenty of depth and plenty of guys to roll in there so that will help them. That will be a little bit of an adjustment obviously but I always think sometimes too much can be made of the outside conditions. It will have a little bit of an affect. But will it be a major thing? I don't think so."

More true freshmen to see action?

Midway through preseason camp, Coach Hawkins mentioned 12 players when asked which true freshmen would likely see action their first year on campus. But through two games of the season, wide receiver Kendrick Celestine and walk-on kicker Tyler Cope are the only true freshmen that have played.

"We are still looking at that," Hawkins said on Tuesday. "A lot of it is having guys that are ready. We always talk about the fact that there are three fazes to being ready: one is physically, one is mentally and one is emotionally. And what you don't want to do is put somebody out there that is not ready in one of those categories. I think we are seeing some of those younger guys that are closer to being ready and we may see that a little bit in this game this Saturday."

Offensive linemen Ryan Miller and Kai Maiava are among the true freshmen with a chance to make their college debut against the Seminoles.

Coming into camp, wide receiver Markques Simas was one of the true freshmen that most expected to battle for early playing time. But he battled some conditioning issues in the preseason. Simas was ranked by Rivals.com as the best wide receiver prospect in California last recruiting cycle.

"We kind of have him on the ready, ready," Coach Hawkins said of Simas. "Where Markques' true talents come into play is that he is a very good receiver, he is a very smooth guy, good route runner and he is going to get better as he becomes more polished that way. I think that is his best attribute.

"You have guys like Josh [Smith] and Kendrick [Celestine] (other true freshmen receivers) who are a little faster so they bring a physical skill to the table right now. As Markques gets bigger and stronger, he is going to get faster as well. We definitely want him in the loop and we've had him on the ready, ready, depending on what happens with the rest of our receiving core this season."

No "cup cakes" on the schedule

The Buffaloes are fortunate to play some of their more difficult Big 12 games at home this season. But the non-conference schedule has been a tough one.

The team has already faced their in-state rival at a neutral site, played a good Pac-10 program in Arizona State in 100 degree heat and they will play one of the nation's fastest teams in Florida State this Saturday. Colorado's final non-conference opponent is no push over, either. Miami of Ohio beat Ball State and then took Minnesota to triple-overtime this past Saturday before losing, 41-35.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," expressed junior linebacker Brad Jones. "I came to this school because we consistently play one of the hardest schedules in the nation. I like playing the top echelon teams. You get to really showcase your skills and show what type of team you have."

"When you watch highlight tapes of past years through Colorado history, they have played some unbelievable teams," added Cody Hawkins. "They never shied away from great competition and this year is definitely no different judging by our non-conference schedule."

The Buffaloes will have a large audience this Saturday because of the game's last start and national broadcast on ESPN.

"A lot of people around the country will be watching but when you are playing you are not thinking about who is watching the game," Cody Hawkins said. "Hopefully we can get the 'blackout' thing going with the crowd. There are a bunch of people talking about that. That would be awesome for the game and awesome for the fans. But when we are out there, we're going to be very focused on the game and doing our assignments and not trying to get caught up in the atmosphere."

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