CU’s bumbling Buffs can’t escape criticism
BOULDER, Colo. – The Colorado Buffaloes, who started the season with losses to underdogs Colorado State and Toledo, can’t escape the scrutiny even in the classroom as they prepare for Wyoming’s visit on Saturday.Senior linebacker and captain Marcus Burton said he was put between a rock and a hard place this week when his geology professor called him out in class for the team’s poor play.”He was saying (geology) is not as interesting to some people, kind of like how we’ve been playing is what he said pretty much,” Burton recounted.”People are going to say what they want to say. Everyone has an opinion. All I can do is go to school, play football,” Burton said. “He made a statement and was like, ‘Marcus, you’re a captain, what’s going on?'”Burton said he didn’t respond to the professor’s jab. He said some students broke out in laughter, others sympathized with him.He’s run into this sort of censure on campus before, just not in the classroom.”When Coach (Gary) Barnett was getting fired, there was a lot of stuff about the sex scandal and that stuff. Then, when we were 2-10 (in 2006), there was more stuff being said, so I’ve been around the block,” Burton said. “There’s not much you can do.”Burton said a couple of his teammates in the same class wondered why he didn’t respond to his professor. “But you have to blow that off,” Burton said. “If you do, you give him what he wants.”The head of the department is looking into the professor’s remarks.The Buffs find the questions and criticism everywhere they go.Fans, alumni, boosters, and yes, even professors, wonder what’s wrong with them.Dan Hawkins, who is 13-26 as Colorado’s coach, raised expectations sky-high this offseason by declaring, “Ten wins, no excuses.”They were favored to beat the Rams at home and Toledo on the road but instead dropped both games to the non-BCS schools, including a 54-38 loss to the Rockets.Wyoming (1-1) visits Folsom Field on Saturday coming off a 41-10 loss to second-ranked Texas in a game in which they led the Longhorns 10-6 in the closing minutes of the first half before succumbing to Colt McCoy & Co.If the Cowboys beat the Buffs, Colorado will be 0-3 heading into the meat of its schedule, which includes a visit to Austin, Texas, in three weeks.Exacerbating the Buffaloes’ stumbling start is the nature in which they’ve lost. Although they were favored in both games, they fell behind early and couldn’t recover. Against Colorado State, they trailed 20-3 at the half. They were down 30-3 at the break against Toledo.Athletic director Mike Bohn is standing staunchly behind his coach, saying Hawkins isn’t on the hot seat. Last year, Hawkins received a two-year contract extension through 2012, meaning it would cost more than $3 million to replace him.Despite a dearth of talent and upperclassmen, Hawkins insists he has enough talent on his roster to succeed this season.”Are we good enough? Yeah, we are,” he said. “We’re good enough. But that also gets both fueled and tainted by confidence and momentum. … We just need to keep going, get a little bit better, get a win, get a little wind underneath our wings.”Hawkins said his quarterback son, Cody, is recovering nicely from a blow to the head last week and is expected to start against the Cowboys.That isn’t sitting well with the critics who are calling for Tyler Hansen to replace him under center. Cody Hawkins has thrown four interceptions so far.But the biggest problems are on defense, where Colorado has allowed 16 plays over 20 yards and nine plays over 35 yards so far. Toledo had three plays of 60 or more yards against the Buffaloes.Colorado coaches simplified their defensive sets this weeks in a move they hope will jump-start their season – and curb the criticism.”Well, their head coach is from Missouri and you know what Missouri has done to us a couple of times, so we’re expecting those guys to come out gunning,” Burton said. “I think we’re going to do a better job of just flying around. The defense is a lot simpler, guys don’t have to do as much thinking, guys can just play.”On offense, the Buffs expect to get a boost from the long-awaited debut of wide receiver Markques Simas, who redshirted in 2007 and was ruled academically ineligible last season. He sat out the first two games this season while serving a suspension for violating team rules and also has been dealing with a sprained knee.If he can go, he could be just the spark the Buffs need to break out of their offensive doldrums.The Buffs also shuffled their offensive line this week, moving Ryan Miller from right guard to right tackle to replace Bryce Givens, who missed practice time for personal reasons. Blake Behrens or Matt Bahr will play right guard.