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Brooks: Q&A With Cody H.

Aug 15, 2009

BOULDER - It's mid-August, so you know where Cody Hawkins' mind is . . . or do you?

OK, the guy does live, breath, devour and digest football, but this summer he's absorbing and processing a few other items as well.

Start with his younger brother, Drew, a former Holy Family quarterback who walked on last year at Boise State and has been known to light it up (sometimes with Cody's help) playing the guitar, the piano or even his computer keyboard.

But Drew's musical talents aren't foremost in Cody's mind right now. The older brother is feeling, really feeling, for the younger one.

Drew is done with football. The high contact game that runs soul-deep through the Hawkins family has hit back; Drew is into double digits now with concussions, and everyone in the family knows the seriousness of head injuries and their long term ramifications.

"He talked to me a little bit, but he didn't really have a decision," Cody said. "You get your 10th concussion and it's not really an option. That kind of was the line for him.

"But luckily for my brother, he's the more talented of the young Hawkins men. He's a smart kid and talented in so many ways. He could be an actor, a rock star, a football player . . . a heck of a golfer or a hooper.

"The music road is pulling at his heart strings. He and I always have really been into music, so maybe this is a blessing in disguise that he's going to explore his other talents.

"It'll be fun to watch him and see where he goes . . . he's my best friend and I miss him like heck."

Cody said Drew will remain at Boise State for the fall semester because his tuition already has been paid and he's got a place to live. After that, music school might beckon. And after that . . . stay tuned (no pun intended).

But chances are when his older bro and the Buffaloes are at Folsom Field, Drew will make time to be there, too. He'll remain in Cody's thoughts, but with his junior season fast approaching, Cody's mind is becoming a crowded place.

His take on the 2009 season, his game and other issues that arise between the hash marks: How is this camp progressing, and is it different from the ones you've been in here?

Cody Hawkins: "This camp much more competitive than past camps because we've finally got that depth and experience at a lot of different positions.

"That gives a team a so much better look when you've got so many other guys who can come in and contribute at any given time.

"Guys have a lot more energy and focus; they're realizing camp is all about the football. They're not getting caught up in the long hours and the meetings and stuff. They're coming here and doing everything they can to get better.

"And the good part of that, the team chemistry is so much better than it ever has been. We've got a lot of great guys; we all love playing football together and being around each other.

"It's made for an awesome camp." You're working under a new offensive coordinator and position coach (Eric Kiesau). How's that been?

CH: "It's been so awesome with what coach Kiesau has done; guys are having a lot of fun, asking a lot more questions and really just cutting it loose.

"They know the biggest thing our coaches are asking is that we buy into the system and give 110 percent. And I think our guys respond to that very well.

"With coach Kiesau, things tend to be a little more black and white, so I feel like you have a lot more answers in certain situations. When he's talking, I feel like his terminology is very clear cut about what you should and shouldn't have been doing on a certain play. And that way, guys can kind of coach themselves.

"It allows the leaders on the offense to be leaders because when you know exactly what the coach would say on every given play, it's easier to help the younger guys." Are you saying things might have been a little distorted, or maybe that's not the right word, maybe unclear, under Mark Helfrich (now at Oregon)?

CH: "I don't want to say distorted . . . they were just different in terminology and how they coached stuff. Coach Kiesau just does an awesome job of conveying exactly what he means towards the players, whereas there might have been a little bit of gray area in the past.

"Maybe the quarterbacks understood because we were around (Helfrich) all the time, but the other guys weren't always totally sure with the terminology. But there's a whole lot of continuity there (now). One of your teammates told me that in last season's spread attack, the offense sometimes reached a point during games where, if certain plays weren't working, the entire unit felt "stuck." Did you ever get that feeling?

CH: "This offense gives you more options and a couple of more outs, you could say . . . I think that might have to do not so much with the offense, but with the confidence the guys on our team have and with the group we have up front in the offensive line. I feel with our O-line, our guys feel like they can do a lot of different things.

"I mean, if you're trying to run the ball, you can switch run plays based on the front because our guys are smart enough and athletic enough to make it happen.

"And with our receivers, we have a lot more concepts that we can go to that guys understand that'll get us the desired yardage." Where does that understanding come from - just being in the same system?

CH: "We've tried to do something a little different every year . . . the big thing that coach Kiesau has instilled in us is that we have to have an identity. We all have a great sense of what our identity is and what it's supposed to be . . . we're going to stay there; we're not going to stray from it.

"Our coaches know what 's going on at every position, and that's huge. I feel like everybody can flow, everybody knows a little bit about something else.

"I can talk to Ashley (Ambrose) or Skyler (Fulton, both technical interns) about a route that we were throwing with the wide receivers, and coach Kiesau is somebody that can be approached by the starting left guard or the backup tight end. He'll be able to explain to you what you're supposed to do on each play.

"Guys are going out and having fun because they know what they're supposed to do, and if they don't know they're not afraid to ask." Will this offense have a lot more identity than any you've had here?

CH: "People will see a lot more continuity and consistency from this offense . . . there'll be a little more swagger to it, and guys are just going to be used to what they're doing.

"There'll be a lot of different things going on every week, but there'll be a consistent theme throughout the season." The head coach, your dad, has said he's never coached a quarterback who didn't go through what he described as a "sophomore slump." Does that apply to your sophomore season, and do you enter this one believing you've got a slump to pull out of and things to prove?

CH: "I thought I ended the season on a decent note last year . . . I think in talking to the coaches, you get caught so much more in the results of a play instead of exactly what you're doing.

"When you're a freshman, you're focused so much on the details because you have no idea of what's going on. Then when you're a sophomore, you think you kinda know what's going on so you focus so much more on the result rather than the little details . . .

"Towards the end of the season, you talk to guys about what happened against Oklahoma State and Nebraska, and although those games didn't end like we wanted them to, where I was going on every play was pretty good.

"I know I had two balls picked at Nebraska, but both were tipped. Coach Kiesau has us focusing on the details . . . if we can get the details down, we're going to be successful." How about proving yourself again in 2009?

CH: "People are always going to talk, and the he-said, she-said stuff . . . but I know exactly why I'm here and I believe in exactly what I'm doing for this program.

"I didn't come here to win .500 percent of my football games. I want to contend for a Big 12 championship, get to a good bowl game - that's what we're trying to do.

"I think a lot of the guys in my class are starting to put things together . . . we want to prove we can compete with every team in the Big 12 and show we're an elite team. That's what we came here to do. Many of your teammates have told me the pervasive feeling on this team is that your sick of losing. Do you sense that?

CH: "Every sport I've played, I'm used to winning. You talk to Demetrius (Sumler), Scotty (McKnight) and me - we're all used to winning.

"When you're sophomores, you're kind of in the middle of the road. When you turn that corner and become a junior, the leadership on this team has kind of stepped up. You see guys who are used to winning take the reins . . . we're trying to put our own spin on it because we're used to winning and we'll accept nothing less.

"We're trying to push the young guys along and I think they're responding really well." I'm going to ask you about the best-case scenario for this team, and you're going to say winning 12 games. Tell me something that goes beyond that, or might make that possible.

CH: "The best thing that can happen for us is we've got to start out hot. We have to come out of the gates and show what we can do, what we've been working on.

"It's going to be tough. We've got a rivalry game, then a short week (before going to Toledo), then we've got Wyoming - another team that's got that Missouri 'swag' going now (with head coach Dave Christensen, former Mizzou offensive coordinator) - then we've got to go all the way out to West Virginia.

"Right now we're focused on Colorado State, but we know we're preparing for a heck of a season . . . and we're preparing to get his program into the right mentality. We're trying to beat the Rams, but we're trying to do that with the confidence that we can keep things going. We've got to bust out of the gates.

 "We've got to come out of the gates strong, carry that confidence into the Big 12 and protect our home field. Start fast, protect Folsom, and I think we'll be in very good shape to do some of the things we want to do."

Contact: BG.Brooks@Colorado.EDU