AT&T currently runs a relatively effective commercial campaign that revolves around asking children simple questions to explain harder concepts in a simpler fashion. For example, one commercial asks, “What’s better, being fast or being slow?” to explain why having faster 4G coverage is better. Obviously all the children say faster and their point is proven.
The same concept can be applied to assessing the University of Colorado’s football team. If I were to ask you, “What’s better, having a 1-7 record or a 3-5 record?” everyone would say 3-5. But if I were to ask you, “Is this year’s 3-5 team all that much better than last years 1-7 team?” The answer becomes a lot more difficult.
Last year’s team passed for 2,310 yards and rushed for 1,323, a total of 3,633 offensive yards. This year’s team has, through eight games (or two thirds of the season) passed for 1,993 yards and rushed for 1,029 yards, a total of 3,022 offensive yards. Considering Colorado still has four games remaining on the schedule, those numbers indicate that, on offense, the Buffs are moving the ball a little bit better.
The difference can primarily be attributed to junior Paul Richardson, who did not play last year and has netted nearly a thousand yards for this year’s team. Touchdowns offer a similar story. Last year’s team had 27 and this year’s team currently has 21, and Richardson is responsible for eight of them.
Richardson is an incredibly valuable player, but makes the team seem one-dimensional.
Defensively, the Buffs have made some slight improvements. Already CU has forced 17 turnovers (nine forced fumbles and eight interceptions), which is the season total for last year’s Buffs. Sacks and yards statistics tell similar stories of being fairly comparable to last year. In 2012, the Buffs allowed an average of 46 points per game and this year they have allowed 38.1.
With the statistics largely being the same what explains the difference in records? Yes, part of the difference certainly is the opponents. CU does have two wins coming against lower division opponents this year, but lets remember last year’s Buffs could not even beat its lower division opponent, Sacramento State. So, if the difference isn’t revealed through stats, then it must be attributed to something that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet.
Freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau’s comments at Tuesday’s press conference following the loss to UCLA: “We fought all four quarters. You will never play a perfect game, but we ‘kept swimming,’ as [Coach MacIntyre] says, and we kept fighting until that final whistle.”
This concept of “keep swimming” is something that head Coach Mike MacIntyre has instilled in this year’s team and is one of the biggest differences between this year and last.
Last year’s team got outscored 112-59 in the fourth quarter, that’s a sign of a team that quits. This year’s team is outscoring opponents 84-36 in the fourth and is demonstrating a fight, a will to compete and heart.
When asked at Tuesday’s press conference whether the team is improving, MacIntyre said, “I’m seeing a little bit more fight with each individual guy and I’m seeing a little bit more. I don’t know if the word is pride, but taking a little bit more ownership in their position and in their spot.”
Having a sense of responsibility and thirst to keep fighting and keeping improving is huge for a football team.
This is a team that has gone through three head coaches in four years, so it is a big step for that fighter’s mentality to be present. Mentality and heart do not necessarily show up in the win column after one year. But if this mindset is continued and the team continues to improve and grow in experience and skill, then the wins and stats will begin to follow suit.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Grayson O’Roark at Grayson.email@example.com.