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The Colorado Buffaloes wrapped up practice Monday after suffering their first loss of the season on Saturday night. A common theme for the Buffs thus far this year has been lack of execution on offense. Despite the fact that the Buffs are loaded with talented players on the offensive side of the football, they rank 11th in total offense in the conference.
One of the keys in their development and getting better as a unit will be winning more battles in the trenches as well as making sure the team play’s the full four quarters.
“We’ve got to play better on the offensive line. I thought we held our own, but we’ve got to play much better and be able to create more points,” CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “That goes for everybody on offense, and defensively we were holding our own their for a little bit, and then let it bust through on the run there, so we didn’t finish the game, and we’ve got to do that on both sides of the line in the next game.”
A major bright spots for the Buffaloes in Saturday’s loss was kicker James Stefanou’s 49-yard field goal. This was good news for the Buffs as having a kicker who can consistently knock down field goal from 40+ yards adds a whole new dimension to the game.
Going forward, MacIntyre views the Austrilian’s long range abilities as a trick card the Buffs can utilize once they get on the opposition’s side of the 50.
“He’s been kicking really well, and I’ve been very pleased with him,” MacIntyre said. “If he didn’t got hurt right before the CSU game, I think he probably wouldn’t have missed any at this point, but he had come back, and he didn’t kick all week. He was kicking so good but he got nicked up a little bit, but now he’s back full speed and doing very well. He’s definitely a weapon we can count on, and I’ve been pleased with what he’s done.”
On Saturday, the Buffaloes had trouble consistently winning the battle at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The Huskies explosive pass rush had their way for most of the night, sacking quarterback Steven Montez five times and not letting any of the running backs break off a gain greater than nine yards. Additionally, there were several bad snaps which hindered the team’s progress on offense.
Needless to say, the Buffs are going to have to maximize their offensive lineman’s potential, and do a better job of both allowing the ground game to get going, and protecting Montez as they dive deeper into their conference schedule.
“If you want me to be honest, we’re not playing as good as we need to be right now. I’m not going to sit here and lie, and say we are,” offensive tackle Jeromy Irwin said. “We’ve got a lot of talent, but at the end of the day it’s just like high school recruiting. Four stars come in, but it doesn’t mean anything once they get here.
“Talent is a fancy word for you haven’t done anything. One thing we need to do is realize we have the tools to be a very good offensive line, and come to work everyday and practice honing our skills and technique. Right now, it’s all technique, we’ve got to get better in our run and pass game.”
Despite the tough loss in their conference opener, Irwin, who is now in his second year as captain, feels confident about the team’s ability to move forward and ultimately reach their ceiling.
“There’s going to be ups-and-downs, but if we can keep everybody’s morals up, and we can keep working hard, then we have a chance to do big things this year,” Irwin said. “We play in a tough conference and we just got to bring our lunch box and our flashlight everyday.”
-MacIntyre stressed the importance of not getting too caught with up the opponent. He talked about how anybody can beat anyone during the course of a season, and cited Arizona State’s upset over Oregon last week in proving his point.
-MacIntyre feels that this will be a close, hard fought, class Pac-12 matchup. He praised UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen’s ability to make big plays, as well as the Bruins resiliency in their ability to come back from behind.
-Despite the fact that the Buffs currently rank 11th in the Pac-12 in total offense, MacIntyre feels confident about their ability to move up the ranks and improve.
-After practice, Irwin stressed the importance about bouncing back and responding positively as the team battles through adversity for the first time this year: “Sometimes you find yourself in tough situations, and it’s not about the situations and how you do it, but how you respond.”