Aug 282008
 
Authors: Sean Star

I’m picking the Rams Sunday … to beat the folks in Vegas, not Boulder.

Sorry, I’m not in this to make friends.

An 11-point spread between these two teams is just too large, as is the number of points the CU offense will put up.

Because after all the hype and adrenaline of the rivalry runs out, reality will set in.

CU’s offense is athletic, experienced and coached by Dan Hawkins, who has more tricks up his sleeve than David Blaine. CSU’s defense is slow, small and coordinated by Larry Kerr, who must’ve had a trick of his own to get out of coaching football at Duke.

Simply put, Cam is going to have a hard time keeping up with Ralphie.

For the first time since he arrived in Boulder three years ago, Hawkins has all the parts he needs to drive his Cadillac. Bigger and strong than a year ago, his son, Cody Hawkins, is ready to make the leap from a serviceable quarterback to a real difference-maker. Hawkins will be protected by an improved offensive line anchored by preseason second-team all-conference tackle Ryan Miller. And sophomore wide receiver Josh Smith’s 19-yard average as a freshman last year was just a preview of how good he’ll be this fall.

A breakout game could be in order for Smith, who will be covered by a Ram cornerback crew that has played a combined six collegiate games. The corps is led by Nick Oppenneer, whose highlights at CSU include putting on his uniform for every game last year.

Then there’s the Buffs’ backfield. Five-star freshman recruit Darrell Scott, who by most experts was ranked as the best running back in the nation for the class of 2008, is listed third. Yes, third.

The kid has a YouTube video titled “The Next LaDanian Tomlinson” for crying out loud.

Don’t be surprised if that depth chart is thrown away after the first quarter. Actually, don’t be surprised by anything from Scott. The Parade All-American is a living punt, pass and kick phenomenon.

At his first practice as a Buff earlier this month, Scott averaged 40 yards a kick and says he’s intrigued by the prospect of lining up behind center on punting situations.

And if anyone is crazy enough to implement a punter/runner, it’s Hawkins.

In fact, Scott’s probably a better punting option than anything the Rams have.

Senior kicker Jason Smith was slated to pull double duties this year until, for some reason, he picked up a loose ball during a scrimmage and tried to run with it, breaking his arm and severely fracturing the Rams’ chances if the game comes down to one kick, as it has so frequently.

But don’t worry, Smith’s replacement, true freshman Ben DeLine, appears confident. DeLine said earlier this week he welcomes the possibility of having the game rest on his shoulders.

CU would probably like that scenario too.

Freshmen from Steamboat should be more worried about getting booze and a ride home on Sunday rather than kicking the game-winning field goal.

But not all is lost. The Rams still have Kory Sperry.

Sports columnist Sean Star can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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