One of the great things about finally being back in town and back in the high desert is these glorious summer thunderstorms. While a West Coast rainstorm maybe be softer and not as high a hailstone risk, there’s none of those glorious booms and rumbles coming from the sky. In this last 14-year stint in L.A., I heard a single thunderclap. North of five thousand days, one teensy little rumble.
But here on the Front Range of Colorado, the skies are stacked for all kinds of booms and pyrotechnics. The way clouds, temperatures, and winds play along the Rocky Mountains, you can often see it coming. The clouds get tall and puffy, and often pretty dark. The temperature shifts, and the barometer drops enough you can actually feel it. You know a storm is headed your way. You can literally smell it in the air, which has taken on a very different hue. Off in the distance, you hear it…
Sometimes, you can just tell it’s going to be a big one. Sometimes Thunder portends something a little different…
Local sports are joyously a year-long pursuit in Colorado, with a plethora of professional, collegiate, and amateur programs across the state who are both entertaining and exceptional. But in addition to thunderstorms, this time of year also brings Coloradoans everywhere back to what is easily the most popular sport at altitude. Football season is upon us, and whether your favorite jersey says Broncos, Buffaloes, Falcons, or Rams, there’s reason to think things are looking up this season.
If you’re even a tangential fan of Colorado sports, you’re probably well-aware that Denver has had a busy, tumultuous, and impressive offseason. Changes at every level from ownership to coaching to quarterback and beyond have the Broncos on a very new path. What most pundits inside and outside of Denver are excited about is the upgrades. While Russell Wilson is a huge step forward behind center, he’s only emblematic of the efforts Denver has made to shore up and get aligned across the board. DNVR’s own Broncos expert Ryan Koenigsberg sees this season as one of the more potential-filled in recent memory. While the AFC West is one of the NFL’s most talented and dangerous divisions, the Broncos have brought all of the pieces in to have a seat at the table, maybe even at the head. A thorough whipping of the Dallas Cowboys to start the preseason without even seeing most of the starters has Broncos fans feeling orange-and-blue through and through before things even get started.
Last season was a year Buffs fans would prefer to forget, with the second-worst offense in college football making things tough for much of any mojo to really get going for Colorado. While the pieces are still gelling and maturing in a tough PAC-12 South, there’s a ton of reasons to think that the Buffs will be a far better squad than last year’s. The offensive line should be less offensive, the quarterback battle will hopefully not be decided by early injury, and the defense will benefit greatly – both from having another year under their belts, and hopefully more time off the field. Speaking of the quarterback competition, that healthy battle at a key spot ought to push the team forward in general, as was nicely detailed by newest DNVR-ite Jake Schwanitz this week. Most importantly, head coach and recent Pac-12 Coach of the Year Karl Dorrell has a long-and-trying learning season under his belt, and should come back with even more of the day-to-day in focus. While no one expects the Buffs to win the conference, they will not be the easy mark many of their opponents saw them as last year.
Air Force Falcons
Conversely, the Falcons had an enviable 2021. They went 10-3 on the season, and none of the three losses was by more than six points, with only one true shocker – to Army. The Falcons’ ever-enviable running attack was particularly on point last year, notching the best rushing offense in the entire country. While Air Force’s O will yet again be rumbling and roaring up and down the field, their defense will be tested this year, with only five starters returning, and most of last season’s leaders now gone. If the Falcons can limit their mistakes on that side of the ball this year, keep the running game as potent as it was, and find their difference-makers on D, Air Force should still be a force in the Mountain West this season.
Colorado State Rams
Speaking of the Mountain West, and rumbling all the way back up the Front Range, the Colorado State University Rams may end up being the biggest turnaround story of the lot when it comes to football in the Centennial State. New Rams Head Coach Jay Norvell dropped by the DNVR studios on Thursday in an exclusive with DNVR’s Justin Michael about all of the exciting things happening to, and coming for Colorado State. Norvell’s vaunted passing attack has doubled the size of the CSU receiving corps, and some very solid and highly-rated transfers have made near-daily news of shifting their plans to Fort Collins this Fall, and that on both sides of the ball. After seven seasons of football in the Fort that have ranged from ho-hum to heinous, Rams fans hopes are suddenly higher than Horsetooth Rock.
It’s going to be a crackling season for the pigskin at altitude, DNVR Nation. It’s been an offseason of change and growth. If you like great football, it will be all around you, and thrilling in every direction you look. Just listen for that rumble off in the distance. It may be the thunder of a ton of football fans screaming their lungs out.