CULVER CITY, Calif. — New Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre wasn’t wearing shades at his first Pac-12 media day. Even so, he sounded like a guy who could have used a pair of Ray-Bans — despite taking over a program with seven consecutive losing seasons.
“The future is bright, no matter what you hear out there,” MacIntyre said. “Our future is going to be bright and we’re going to work hard and make the right steps and do it the right way.”
It’s been awhile since Ralphie and Co. have shined. The program’s last winning season was a 7-5 mark under Gary Barnett in 2005. Since then, Dan Hawkins and Jon Embree have failed to produce another campaign with more wins than losses. Including interim coach Brian Cabral’s 2-1 mark when Hawkins was fired in 2010, the Buffaloes are just 25-61 since Barnett’s departure.
MacIntyre can relate. He’s been in a similar situation before at San Jose State. The Spartans went 1-12 in his first season as head coach and wound up winning 10 games just two years later in 2012.
“There are always similarities but there are always differences,” MacIntyre said. “The first thing we have to do is work with these young men, get them to believe in us, believe in what we’re doing and change the culture.”
Change, he acknowledged, is tough sometimes.
“You will have some kids that move to commit and some that stay reluctant. We’ve got to get them all going the same direction. That’s what we have to do,” MacIntyre said. “I think the similarities would be that both programs (Colorado and San Jose State) had great history, great times. It wasn’t too long ago (that) Colorado was one of the top 15 programs in the country year in, year out. We need to get back there.”
OFFENSE: There was hardly a stampede here in 2012. The Buffs ranked last in the Pac-12 in total offense (302.8 yards) and points per game (17.8). Junior quarterback Connor Wood and sophomore running backs Christian Powell and Donta Abron will likely lead the charge to turn things around.
DEFENSE: Colorado had trouble rounding up opposing offenses a year ago. The Buffaloes ranked 12th in the conference in scoring defense (46 ppg) and rushing defense (226 ypg). Senior linebacker Derrick Webb (team-high 88 tackles in 2012) and senior defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe (seven sacks) top the returnees.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A pair of juniors return to give the Buffaloes a solid punter and kicker. Darragh O’Neill averaged 43.5 yards per punt last season and Will Oliver made six of his eight field goal attempts.
EXTRA POINTS: Colorado hasn’t been ranked in the national polls since Nov. 6, 2005. ... Logan native Kent Baer, who played and coached at Utah State, is Colorado’s defensive coordinator. ... Redshirt freshman quarterback Shane Dillon has transferred to the University of San Diego to play basketball.