BOULDER, Colo. – Once again, the big question at Colorado is whether Tyler Hansen or Cody Hawkins will be the starting quarterback.
They've shared snaps the last two seasons as coach Dan Hawkins goes back and forth between playing his heady son, who is now a senior, and Hansen, a junior who can run when things break down.
When will he pick one?
"We'll see," Dan Hawkins said. "We'll just see when it emerges. No big rush right now."
Would he consider rotating them?
"We might. We'll see how it goes."
About the only thing for certain is that, barring injuries, freshman Nick Hirschman, the Buffs' ballyhooed 6-foot-3, 230-pound quarterback, is buried too far down the depth chart to figure into the mix this fall.
Hansen, who started the last seven games last season but gave way on some series to Cody Hawkins, said he wishes the mystery was already solved but figures he'll benefit from the competition at camp.
"I feel like if they keep me on my toes, I'll do better," said Hansen, who is confident he'll get the nod.
Colorado is coming off a fourth straight losing season under Dan Hawkins, who is 16-33 at Boulder. The Buffs open against Colorado State at Invesco Field on Sept. 4, out to atone for last year's 23-17 loss to the Rams at Folsom Field that started their spiral toward a 3-9 season.
Late last year, Dan Hawkins famously said he regretted recruiting his son to play quarterback for him because of the intense criticism levied against Cody for the program's struggles.
"I totally know what he was saying," Cody Hawkins said. "He said that not because he didn't want me to play for him; he said it just because it's a tough situation. I've had to go through a lot."
Cody Hawkins said he has no regrets about playing at Colorado, however.
"It wasn't his choice; it was my choice. He didn't really recruit me here, it was more (assistant) coach (Mark) Helfrich," Cody Hawkins said. "I'm totally glad I came here and I know it hasn't been the rosiest of a career for me. But I've learned a lot about myself as a person and as a player and as a man. I think I've learned more during these experiences than I would have anywhere else."
Cody Hawkins ranks first in school history with 46 touchdown passes. In eight games and five starts last season, he completed 51 percent of his passes for 1,277 yards, 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Hansen completed 56 percent of his throws for 1,440 yards and eight TDs with seven interceptions in seven starts, also rushing for 336 yards.
Working with the starting offense when camp began, Hansen drew quick praise from his teammates.
"Last year he was more of running quarterback that had a really strong arm," senior receiver Scotty McKnight said. "This year he's a pocket passer and if things break down ... he can move."
Whoever ends up under center will play behind a stacked offensive line and have two new targets in transfers Travon Patterson, a senior from Southern Cal, and freshman Paul Richardson, who was jettisoned by UCLA after an off-field incident this summer.
Patterson and Richardson will give the Buffs an early taste of the Pac-10. Colorado is bolting the Big 12 for the Pac-10 by 2012, although all indications are they'll leave after this season.
Patterson was free to transfer anywhere after the NCAA penalized the Trojans program last month for rules violations. Being a fifth-year senior, he'll use up his eligibility before the Buffs join what will be called the Pac-12.
Richardson and two other incoming freshmen were released by UCLA after they were arrested on campus June 23 by university police after allegedly stealing a student's purse from a storage locker in a dormitory.
"This is definitely a second chance," Richardson said. "I made it to a big-name university. I made a mistake ... I've moved past it and I'm ready to move forward."
The Buffs also are eager to put the past behind them — Dan Hawkins received a reprieve from athletic director Mike Bohn last year when there was a groundswell for his dismissal, which would have cost the university more than $3 million.
Bohn has lauded his football coach for cleaning up the program but said he'll have to make headway on the scoreboard this season.
The Buffs are practicing in the mornings now instead of the afternoons and they're not wearing names on their backs, the latter idea suggested by left tackle Nate Solder.
"It's about the team, but it's also about getting the fans off your back: 'Hey, hey, down there.' Now, you don't know my name," Solder explained. "They're not going to yell at you as much."
The early season includes a trip to Cal and a visit from Georgia before Big 12 play begins Oct. 9 with a trip to Missouri.