The University of Colorado’s offense looks entirely different this fall, and armed with more top-end talent than they’ve seen in years, the Buffaloes are finally primed to do something on the football field that they haven’t been able to since joining the PAC-12 in 2011: field an offense in the high-flying manner that’s always defined the now-doomed conference — and it’s all thanks to Sanders.

No, not that one.

While head coach Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders stormed into Boulder, following his heralded hiring after Colorado’s abysmal 1-11 season last fall, he got busy reinventing the wheel as he went. His nearly complete overhaul of the the program’s football roster — primarily through the controversial “transfer portal” — wasn’t without its detractors, but soon enough, Buffaloes fans will find out how much method there was to the madness.

Which brings us to the other Sanders.

After turning down regular Top 25 programs like Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Oregon, Penn State and others, Shedeur Sanders instead followed his father to Jackson State, where the father-son, coach-quarterback duo proceeded to go a combined 23-3 with a perfect 16-0 conference record in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Upon taking the coaching job in Boulder, Deion was once again accompanied by his son when Shedeur transferred to Colorado. “I don’t recall a game, except for when I was in the hospital for four weeks, that anyone else has ever coached Shedeur,” Deion Sanders said last week.

So far, so good. In Shedeur, the Buffs have a quarterback that’s already thrown for 6,963 yards and 70 touchdowns in his first two collegiate seasons. Believe it or not, Colorado’s last four leading passers for the season — J.T. Shrout (1,200 in 2022), Brendon Lewis (1,540 in 2021), Sam Noyer (1,101 in 2020) and Steven Montez (2,808 in 2019) — haven’t hit Sanders’ two-year career totals… combined.

The last time a Buffaloes quarterback had as many as Sanders’ 3,732 yards last season was… never. Sefo Liufau (3,200 yards in 2014) and Koy Detmer (3,156 in 1996) are the only passers to exceed 3,000 yards in a single season in program history. It’s hard to imagine that, if healthy, Shedeur Sanders won’t become the third this season, and he’s very likely setting a school record in the process. He was one of only three college quarterbacks that passed for more than 3,500 yards with 40 or more touchdowns and six or fewer interceptions last season; numbers that ought to translate to a pass-happy PAC-12 replete with NFL-caliber quarterbacks like likely first-overall pick Caleb Williams (USC), Washington’s Michael Penix, Jr., Oregon’s Bo Nix, UCLA’s hyped freshman Dante Moore, and Clemson transfer DJ Uiagalelei; now with Oregon State.

While Shedeur is less of a two-way threat than some of the quarterbacks on that list, he’s picked his spots wisely – in only 85 carries last season, he scored six touchdowns, despite averaging only two yards per run. The Buffaloes aren’t looking for that anyway; not with Alton McCaskill leading the way on the ground; the Houston transfer missed the entire 2022 season with a torn ACL, but the Buffaloes expect him to return to the form that saw him rush for 961 yards and an astonishing 16 touchdowns as a freshman. McCaskill leads a talented halfback group, with Kavosiey Smoke and Dylan Edwards providing potent depth.

Fellow Jackson State transfer Travis Hunter is set to provide a two-way threat for the Buffs, both as a top-flight cover corner and an explosive wideout. Hunter and Shedeur looked explosive as a combo in this spring’s nationally televised “Black and Gold Game,” and Deion Sanders — at this stage, at least — appears content to let Hunter play on the both sides of the ball as he once did. Jimmy Horn Jr., a transfer from South Florida, gives Shedeur another experienced speedster to throw to.

Weapons aren’t the problem, but an inexperienced line that’ll be asked to immediately jell might be. “The main thing, really? We’ve just got to protect the kid,” Deion Sanders said in early August, referring to Shedeur. “If we can keep him upright…”

If they can, something special may be brewing in Boulder. Though the notions of instant Top 25 status for the revamped Buffaloes are pie-in-the-sky fantasies, the idea of that happening in 2024 might not be. If that’s going to even become a possibility, the fans at Folsom Field will see signs of it with their own eyes this fall. Though Deion Sanders may take the spotlight, the future of Colorado Buffaloes now rides on the arm of his son.