After a couple of fairly easy tilts to start out the season, Arizona State's competition improves as the Sun Devils will fly to Boulder, Colorado to take on the Buffaloes in the opening game of their schedule. Here are four Buffaloes that will be important in determining whether or not Colorado hands Arizona State an early conference loss:
Offense: Michael Adkins II (5-foot-10, 195 pounds)
Adkins was one of three freshman on the Colorado squad in 2013 to get significant playing time, and the San Diego product made the most of it, rushing for 535 yards on 103 attempts, an average of 5.19 yards per rush. League coaches named the freshman as an Honorable Mention All-Pac-12. In his only career game against ASU Adkins struggled, rushing 16 times for 62 yards. Having only played in nine games so far in his career, Adkins could be looking at a breakout season for the Buffaloes.
Offense: Nelson Spruce (6-foot-1, 195 pounds)
Colorado's offense in 2013 completely ran through star receiver Paul Richardson, who caught 83 balls for 1343 yards. Richardson bolted to greener pastures in the offseason, and is now a member of the Seattle Seahawks, leaving a large hole to be filled at the top of the wide receiver depth chart.
Enter Spruce, who had a solid 2013 campaign as the second stringer to Richardson, raking in 65 catches for 650 yards and four touchdowns. Against Arizona State in 2013, Spruce was the recipient of Colorado's only touchdown through the air. Spruce has solid height and size for a wideout and has two full years of contribution under his belt. If Spruce can make the necessary strides to improve, his 2014 prospects look bright.
Defense: Addison Gillam (6-foot-3, 225 pounds)
Another one of the freshmen to get significant playing time in 2013, Gillam may have had the best freshman season of them all. Gillam was the first freshman to lead the Buffaloes in tackles since Colorado started tracking the stat in 1964, totaling 119 on the year. Gillam's first collegiate season earned him unanimous First-Team Freshman All-American honors and put him in the national spotlight as an up-and-coming linebacker.
Offense: Sefo Liufau (6-foot-4, 215 pounds)
The final of the three freshmen to impact the 2013 season, Liufau has the greatest impact of all at the quarterback position, and he didn't even play until Week 7 against Arizona State. Liufau came in to replace Connor Wood in the first quarter, who was removed after throwing an interception. Liufau didn't light up the scoreboard but consistently averaged a strong completion percentage and had his best game against Cal, throwing for 364 yards and three touchdowns in one of Colorado's four victories in 2013. Liufau loses his best target in Richardson but the experience he gained in 2013 could prove invaluable to a successful 2014. Showing what they think of their young players, Colorado named Liufau and Gillam as two of the six captains for 2014.