Colorado Buffaloes ready for No. 17 UCLA
AP Sports Writer
BOULDER — Mike MacIntyre hardly considers himself a patient person.
So when the first-year Colorado coach saw his team regress in their rebuilding efforts last weekend against Arizona, he was a tad bit agitated. MacIntyre put his concern level at “very” in the aftermath of a 44-20 loss in which his defense allowed 405 yards rushing.
After hours spent reviewing the film, though, MacIntyre had a change of heart and insisted the performance wasn’t as frustrating as he first surmised.
Overall, MacIntyre appreciates the direction the Buffaloes (3-4, 0-4 Pac-12) are headed as they prepare for No. 17 UCLA on Saturday.
As he’s realizing, turning around this program simply takes patience.
“We just have to do a few more things,” MacIntyre said Tuesday. “I know that sounds simplistic, but I don’t see fractions and I don’t see people pointing fingers at each other. I don’t see guys not coming to work. I don’t see guys not going to class.
“I see them all doing things that you see a good football team that’s maturing doing. It just takes a process to get it done against good teams.”
It’s not to say MacIntyre thought transforming the Buffs would happen overnight. He’s been down this road before, turning around a struggling San Jose State program before joining Colorado.
Never mind that Colorado is coming off a school-worst 1-11 record last season, MacIntyre wants to see continual growth.
In their four conference losses this season, the Buffaloes have surrendered nearly 50 points a game and allowed 624 yards of offense. That’s troublesome for MacIntyre, especially since the Bruins (5-2, 2-2) feature another dual-threat quarterback in Brett Hundley. Not only that, but UCLA is smarting after consecutive losses at Stanford and Oregon.
“That’s another bowl team we play,” MacIntyre said. “We have to keep getting better as people, getting better as players, getting better as athletes, getting better as coaches. We have to all move it forward. I think we’re all going that way. But I wish it would happen tomorrow, though.”
MacIntyre was terse after the loss to the Wildcats, saying, “I’m very disappointed in the outcome.” He’s since come off that stance, simply chalking his feelings up to the stress of the moment.
He liked what he saw on film. Well, some of what he saw anyway.
MacIntyre made the team watch the footage on Sunday, but he also gave them the day off from practice.
“Sometimes, you have to let off the pedal and let the smoke clear,” MacIntyre said. “And then you can put the pedal back down. All of us, coaches, players, have to do a better job. It will eventually happen.”
The players are buying in. With five games remaining, they’re envisioning postseason plans.
“We still have bowl game aspirations,” defensive back Jered Bell said. “Nobody likes to lose. We’re not playing this game to go out there and lose. We’re still giving our all and giving our effort.”
Colorado could be without its top playmaker on Saturday as receiver Paul Richardson recovers from a sprained ankle. The electric Richardson ranks among the top wideouts in the country this season with 50 catches for 914 yards and seven touchdowns.
“Hopefully, he will be able to go,” MacIntyre said. “We definitely need him.”
MacIntyre has been impressed with the poise of freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau, who’s looked both brilliant and baffling at times on the field. He connected with Richardson on a 75-yard TD against Arizona. He also missed some reads and threw an interception.
After the game, Liufau approached MacIntyre and began reciting all the things he did wrong. The next day, he was back at the facility to fix his mistakes.
MacIntyre said that kind of determination reminded him of another young quarterback he was around while an assistant coach at Ole Miss — Eli Manning.
“Eli would be up there at 9, 10 at night watching tape,” MacIntyre said. “That same type of intelligence, that same type of humbleness, that same type of work ethic, that’s what I’ve noticed here in the last two weeks.
“I don’t have to tell Sefo (what he did wrong), he goes and works at it.”
That’s what he expects from his team, too.
“You have to keep pushing and you have to keep walking, and you have to keep being patient,” MacIntyre said. “But you have to keep pushing people and you have to keep leading. You can’t sit back. We’ll eventually make those plays.”
“I sure would like to make them Saturday,” MacIntyre said.
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