Last season, Colorado football struggled to win games despite putting up a fight in the majority of them. During spring practice, the coaching staff is focusing its energy on filling the holes that plagued them last year.
Overall, offense wasn’t all that bad. As a matter of fact, the Buffaloes ranked 20th overall in passing yards at 284.6 yards per game and 77th in rushing yards at 154.6. They had the 59th best offense in the FBS out of 128 division one teams.
Defense, on the other hand, was a different story. Sitting at 112th in the nation, the Buffs have some work to do.
While the offense was doing their part by putting up points and moving the ball relatively well, the Buffs’ opponents one-upped them 10 out of 12 times. Four of those games were decided by a touchdown or less.
The biggest problem came during the fourth quarter, when the team adopted a sort of anti-Tebow effect. Instead of stepping up to the challenge in the final quarter, the Buffs often pulled back just enough to let their opponents sail to victory.
That, said senior offensive lineman Stephane Nembot, was one of the main areas of concern for the team last season.
“I think we can improve a lot of things in the game: ball-power as well as offensive linemen, better techniques and finishing the fourth quarter,” Nembot said. “That’s what we talked about last year.”
Senior cornerback Ken Crawley added that quarterback pressure was another sticking point.
“As a defense, I feel like we weren’t getting enough pressure on the quarterback,” Crawley said. “And the DBs especially weren’t taking advantage of opportunities. We just weren’t getting a lot of turnovers.”
But that’s not to say the offense was perfect.
“In terms of consistency, I think it was up and down for most of our games,” junior quarterback Sefo Liufau said about the offense. “It’s kind of frustrating. It was never one guy, one position, but as a unit we need to be able to be consistent and be able to take charge every game.”
During the six months the team has before the first game of the 2015 season at Hawai’i in early September, the coaching staff is taking a new approach for the offensive line specifically.
“We got a lot of running to work through,” Nembot said. “We’ve got offense—he (head coach Mike MacIntyre) is running a defense-type play for that. For the most part, the coaches are doing a good job, I think, to get us ready for the season.”
The coaches and the players are noticing some significant changes.
“[We’re] just kind of drilling home everything,” Liufau said about their improvements. “We’re getting a lot better. The defense is getting a lot better as well which is helping us improve and so I think we’ll be ready for the season.”
Another main area of focus for MacIntyre is bulking up the team, as he said the team’s general small size left Colorado under-matched against its opponents. Since the end of the season, he has increased the Buffs’ workout regimens to meet his expectations.
The players are rising up to the challenge so far.
“The guys are comfortable in the system,” Liufau said. “A lot of guys are improving in the weight room, on the field in terms of athletic ability, so I definitely think we’ll get over the hump.”
In terms of the “hump” that plagued the Buffs late in many games last year, MacIntyre is testing them in similar situations in practice.
“We’re trying to emphasize a complete four-quarter game all the time,” MacIntyre said. “And I think the maturity of our football team—we’re going to put them in situations they were in last year—now they know they’ve done it before. Now it will be a trigger to them. Like ‘remember this? This is the exact situation.’ And I think all those processes of it. So it’s an overall attitude thing.”
Contact CU Independent Basketball Writer Alissa Noe at firstname.lastname@example.org.