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Brooks: Buffs Look To Turn Around Road Record

Sep 29, 2009

BG.Brooks@Colorado.EDU

BOULDER - It's been a long time between road wins for Dan Hawkins' Colorado football team, but he and his players believe a breakthrough is imminent.

In 2007, the Buffaloes won at Baylor (43-23) and Texas Tech (31-26). But sandwiching that season were a pair that saw CU go 0-5 in each while playing on an opponent's turf.

The Buffs have conjured up some close road calls - a 14-13 loss at Georgia in 2006, losing 20-15 at Kansas that same season, bungling a 31-28 defeat at Iowa State in 2007, losing 40-31 in the final minutes last season at Nebraska.

But avoiding the road hazards and coming close isn't at all appealing to Hawkins or his troops.

"I don't tend to look at it like that . . . let's just get one more point than them on the road," said Hawkins, whose CU road mark skidded to 2-13 with the 54-38 loss at Toledo.

Hawkins said his road approach with his team is "the worse it gets, the better you get.

"That's something you to work at in everything - if the officiating is not so good, you get better. The weather's not so good, you get better . . . create a conditional response that the worse it gets, the more resolve you have."

That might come easier for teams more experienced and seasoned than CU, whose game-week depth chart features 14 seniors (five on offense, seven on defense, two on special teams).

"The more savvy your team gets, the more experienced, you go on the road and take that whole mentality with you," Hawkins said. "When you're a little younger, it's, 'Hey, look at this place.'" 

Older players, sais Hawkins, "understand the dynamic (travel) brings and you have to be that much more focused. You've got issues that happen when you're traveling - whether it's plane issues or traffic issues or whatever, you've just got to be that much more locked in and focused on the task at hand.

"You understand the things that are out there that work against you that don't at home. So you work that much more on your concentration and your focus."

At home, he said, "You make a 25-yard gain and the place erupts. You can make a 50-yard touchdown pass (on the road) and nobody cares. It's like, so what. It's getting over a lot of that stuff."

Junior defensive end Marquez Herrod believes it's "definitely time" for the Buffs to end their road woes: "That's our goal, go out there and no matter where we're at, no matter what color (uniforms) we're wearing or they're wearing, we need to come out and play our game."

CU's next chance to do that comes Thursday night at West Virginia (5:30 p.m. MDT, ESPN).

Hawkins called Morgantown, W.Va., "one of those great places in college football you want to go. I know the fans are very passionate and they get after it. It'll be a night game and they'll be excited."

CHANGE OF THE GUARD? Ethan Adkins has opened the first three games at left guard, but Hawkins left open the possibility of rotation at that position.

He said Blake Behrens and Matt Bahr remain in the mix as potential subs for Adkins, as well as spelling Ryan Miller at right guard.

Miller shifted from that position to right tackle against Wyoming in the absence of Bryce Givens, but Givens has returned to practice after being out with "personal issues" and is expected to start at right tackle.

O-line coach Denver Johnson, said Hawkins, "has done a nice job of rolling guys in there and creating competition" along the line, particularly at the guard spots.

Left tackle Nate Solder, in his second season at that position after switching from tight end, said he now feels more like an offensive lineman than a tight end.

"It's been a process for the last couple of years," he said.

Solder expects "a physical game" at West Virginia: "They've got some big strong dudes . . . I see that as a bit of a challenge for the O-line. But I feel like (offensive coordinator Eric) Kiesau has got a solid (plan) and we've got some good things going for us."

Contact: BG.Brooks@Colorado.EDU