BOULDER, Colo. — Mike MacIntyre wasn’t exactly expecting an instantaneous turnaround at Colorado.
The first-year Buffaloes coach inherited a team coming off a school-worst 1-11 season a year ago and that “doesn’t get fixed overnight with a magic wand.”
Earlier this week, MacIntyre grew a little gruff when he was asked about his team’s progress this season. More specifically, the lack of it on the field.
“We didn’t break it. We’re here to fix it. And we’re fixing it,” MacIntyre said. “And we’ll keep working to fix it and we’ll keep going forward and we’ll keep having the right attitude and the right positive-ness. ... We’ve been down for a while here at Colorado and we’re going to be back.”
Here’s something rather new for the Buffaloes (3-6, 0-6 Pac-12): They’re actually favored against California (1-9, 0-7) on Saturday as both teams chase after their first conference win of the season.
Any added pressure stepping into the role of favorite for a change?
“It doesn’t really matter to me if we are favored or not favored in the game because we treat the game the same way,” Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau said. “You want to play your best with every game and with every snap.”
The Bears are in the midst of a rough season, too, under new coach Sonny Dykes.
“We haven’t been able to get that kind of consistent execution,” Dykes said. “From an outsider’s standpoint, there’s not much to look at and say, ‘Boy, they’ve gotten this much better.’ It’s been a learning experience for all of us.”
MacIntyre feels the same way.
“Most people didn’t predict us to win three games this year going into the season and we’ll win some more before the year is over,” MacIntyre said.
Here are five things to keep in mind as the Buffaloes and Bears each try to snap out of losing streaks:
Even on a sprained ankle, Paul Richardson remains one of the most explosive receivers in the country. His nine TDs this season have gone for an average of 51.8 yards. “He’s a guy that when the game gets tight, they’re going to try to get him the ball and let him make plays,” Dykes said. “And he normally does. He’s a heck of a player.”
By MacIntyre’s count, the Buffs missed 37 tackles in a 59-7 loss at Washington last weekend. “I’ve never been a part of that — ever,” he said. “The most I’ve even been a part of is probably like 20. If you get above 10, you’re in trouble.” The fundamentals of tackling were stressed all week in practice. “We’ll rectify that,” MacIntyre said.
More efficient Goff
Quarterback Jared Goff has thrown for 3,141 yards this season, just 359 shy of breaking the school’s single-season mark set by Pat Barnes in 1996. Goff has thrown seven of his 17 TD passes in the last two weeks. The change? “Part of it was not trying to be Superman out there and just doing what the quarterback has to do,” Goff said. “Just doing what I can do and have to do. For a little while there, I was trying to do too much. I realized that and fixed it.”
Almost a Bear and not a Buff?
To think, MacIntyre was considered for the Cal position before it went to Dykes. “We kind of laughed about that in the offseason, about the way things work,” Dykes said. “That’s coaching. Everybody’s mentioned for everything at some point in their career.” MacIntyre and Dykes are good friends. “We both grew up in coaching together. His dad was a coach. My dad was a coach. So, Sonny will do a great job there,” MacIntyre said. This isn’t the first time Cal and Colorado have met with both having new coaches. In 1982, Bill McCartney’s team faced Joe Kapp’s Cal squad, with the Buffs losing 31-17.
Dykes had little idea who Liufau was until he replaced Connor Wood at QB last month. “I know that they feel like he gives them something,” Dykes said. “When you look at him play, he can run the football. That looks like the direction they want to go in. He’s done a good job taking care of the football. You can tell that they think he gives them the best chance to win.”
AP freelance writer Mike Wagaman in Berkeley, Calif., contributed to this report.