CU arrives at Pac-12 media days with South title — and plenty of questions to address.»
The University of Colorado arrives at Pac-12 media days this week as defending south division champions, but the resurgent Buffaloes have plenty of questions to address in their search for a repeat title. Here are five story lines to follow when CU takes the main stage inside the Hollywood and Highland Center:
1. Rebuild or reload: After a decade of consecutive losing seasons, the Buffaloes won 10 games in 2016 for the first time since 2001. However, they return this fall without four-year starting quarterback Sefo Liufau and eight defensive starters from a year ago. Mike MacIntyre enters his fifth season as coach. Has he stockpiled enough talent through recruiting to keep CU relevant in 2017?
2. Montez’s moment:
Quarterback Steven Montez thrived as a redshirt freshman in his first start last fall, defeating Oregon 41-38 and becoming the first Buffalo in program history to throw for 300 yards and rush for 100 in the same game. Montez has all the tools to thrive in CU’s spread offense, but how will he handle the spotlight in 2017?
3. Eliot’s impact: Former CU defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt became the Pac12’s highest paid assistant coach ($1.15 million) for the same position at Oregon, so enter, D.J. Eliot. Kentucky’s defensive coordinator, who played linebacker at Wyoming, brings a familiar 3-4 system to Boulder. But can a mostly unproven unit minus four 2017 NFL draft picks make it flourish?
4. Phil focus: The Pac-12 is loaded at running back this fall, with nine named to the Doak Walker Award watch list. CU’s Phillip Lindsay is among the most dy- namic. He rushed for 1,189 yards with a conferenceleading 16 touchdowns in 2016. Lindsay also has the benefit of a veteran offensive line. Can he match last season’s production?
5. Defensive leaders:
With the mass departure on defense, CU will need strong leadership to welcome newcomers into starring roles. Senior outside linebacker Derek McCartney is a natural fit as a twotime team captain with 25 career starts and 9½ sacks. Who else will step up to fill the void?
Phillip Lindsay provides versatility to CU.