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The question was rhetorical and the answer obvious. Still, the
words seemed to lodge in Koy Detmer's throat and stick there for
several seconds. "How long have I been here?" he repeated. "This
will be my fourth year." He smiled, the taut grin of a gentleman
quarterback who, like his Heisman Trophy-winning brother, Ty, is
more comfortable with anonymity than with fame. He shook his
head and kicked at the ground with his rubber cleats. "Four
years. Hard to believe."

Better yet, believe this: There are few programs anywhere that
enter the season under more scrutiny than Colorado's. The
Buffaloes are replacing a coach, Bill McCartney, who resigned so
abruptly that his players still haven't recovered. "It was a
shock," says junior free safety Steve Rosga. "Coach Mac was like
a dad." The new head man is 34-year-old Rick Neuheisel (page
176), who was elevated after one year as a Colorado assistant
and became the second-youngest Division I-A coach in the
country. Junior tailback Rashaan Salaam, who gained more than
2,000 yards last season as Colorado's first Heisman Trophy
winner, left early for the NFL. In all, 10 starters were lost
from a team that was beaten only by national champ Nebraska and
finished ranked third.

Yet there is the presumption that Colorado remains talented
enough to contend for a Big Eight title and assume its customary
Top 15 spot. Much of the pressure in fulfilling these
expectations falls on Neuheisel, who has a reputation for
offensive genius and who will be employing a new, attacking
defense. But Colorado is also Detmer's team. "I believe he's
ready for this," says Detmer's father, Sonny, a high school
coach in Mission, Texas. If Detmer is not, we'll hear
McCartney's name invoked before Halloween.

Detmer has been sitting for most of three full seasons. As a
true freshman in 1992, he started two games when Kordell Stewart
was injured. Detmer was redshirted in '93 and was mopped up last
fall. His patience has been tested, which has become something
of a Detmer family tradition. Ty, who won the Heisman in '90 as
a junior at Brigham Young, has spent three years as the
third-string quarterback with the Green Bay Packers, awaiting
his chance.

"I believe Ty would like to get some work in too," says Koy. "I
know I'm prepared to play. All I ever counted on here was
getting two years as the starter, but these last two years I've
been sitting around way too much." This is not to say that the
time has been wasted. Koy has much in common with Ty. Both
arrived in college as virtual floppy disks of offensive
knowledge, courtesy of their dad's high-tech passing game (Koy,
who played for Sonny at Mission High, is the leading passer in
Texas high school history; Ty, who played for Sonny at San
Antonio SW, is No. 3), and both are soft-spoken and quietly
tough. But while Ty played his last two years at BYU as a
fragile 6-foot 170-pounder, Koy is a sturdy 6'1", 180. "Koy has
had to occupy himself while he waited," says his father. "He's
developed some great work habits."

Moreover, Koy and Neuheisel have a bond of sorts. When McCartney
hired Neuheisel in the winter of 1994 to coach quarterbacks and
wide receivers, the two shook hands on a three-year arrangement.
"The deal was that I would be here to coach Kordell and Koy,"
says Neuheisel. He and Koy have already spent more than a year
together, watching tape and dissecting defenses. "He's fun, and
he's a perfectionist," says Detmer of his coach. "You have to
constantly remind yourself that he's the head man." It's
unlikely that Detmer has to remind himself that at UCLA,
Neuheisel helped Troy Aikman become the No. 1 overall pick in
the '89 NFL draft or that Stewart went from an erratic performer
to a second-round selection last spring.

And it's true that Detmer will not be alone. Three starters
return on the offensive line, anchored by senior center Bryan
Stoltenberg, an All-America candidate. Even though wideout
Michael Westbrook was lost, juniors Rae Carruth and James Kidd
are both experienced. On defense, new coordinator A.J. Christoff
has installed an aggressive 4-3 set, which should turn 6'4",
235-pound junior Greg Jones into a terrorizing pass rusher off
the corner. One problem with the new scheme: It puts a premium
on pass coverage, and Colorado has lost both of its corners:
Thorpe Award winner Chris Hudson, who exhausted his eligibility,
and senior Dalton Simmons, who suffered a severe knee injury in
the Fiesta Bowl and is expected to miss the entire season.

The Buffaloes' schedule is typically tough. They open at
Wisconsin and play Colorado State and Texas A&M at home before
going to Oklahoma for a Sept. 30 night game that the Sooners
will treat as if it were for the national championship. It is
small consolation that Colorado gets Nebraska at home.

It's up to the new coach and his new quarterback to make it all
work. "I think Koy can be fantastic," says Neuheisel. "I think
that kid has rare ability." It was in the fall of '92, when
Detmer was forced into starting against Oklahoma, that his
father watched on television and thought, "Last year on this
weekend, he was playing a high school game; now he's playing

Koy wasn't ready then. He'd better be ready now.

--Tim Layden

COLOR PHOTO: BRIAN MASCK/ALLSPORT USA With Westbrook gone, Kidd (2) will take a run at the game-breaker role. [James Kidd in game]


Head coach: Rick Neuheisel
Career coaching record: 0-0
First year at Colorado

1994 RECORD: 11-1
Big Eight record: 6-1 (second)

W Northeast Louisiana 48-13
W Wisconsin 55-17
W at Michigan 27-26
W at Texas 34-31
W at Missouri 38-23
W Oklahoma 45-7
W Kansas State 35-21
L at Nebraska 24-7
W Oklahoma State 17-3
W at Kansas 51-26
W Iowa State 41-20
W Notre Dame 41-24 (Fiesta Bowl)

Final '94 ranking: 3 AP, 3 CNN/USA Today

Lettermen lost: 20
Lettermen returning: 37
Returning starters, offense: 5
Returning starters, defense: 7

Sept. 23 Texas A&M
Sept. 30 at Oklahoma
Oct. 28 Nebraska


It takes faith to be able to wait four years before starting your
first college football game. But Colorado senior defensive end
Daryl Price of Beaumont, Texas, knows about that: Price is an
ordained minister who preaches at Boulder Second Baptist Church.
He is also first on the depth chart at his position, pass-rush
specialist in Colorado's new 4-3 alignment.

The fact that Price is a key player is remarkable. As a senior
at Beaumont Central High School in 1991, he tore three of the
four ligaments in his left knee when he hit a hurdle during a
track meet. Last year he had arthroscopic knee surgery, after
which he was limited to working on special teams and backing up
at outside linebacker.

But Colorado's change in its defensive alignment has afforded
Price a chance for significant playing time. He added 20 pounds
last winter, pushing his weight to 260, and made himself a
viable candidate for the line. Then he won the job.

Think of it as a small miracle.