Devils Den Blog

Pac-12 Preview Colorado: A Rocky Mountain to Climb

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What is that old saying?

Things will always get better. After all, when you’ve hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.”

The Colorado Buffaloes haven’t been to a bowl game since 2007. Three seasons ago, the Buffs left the Big-12 and joined the Pac-12, and their Pac-12 conference record over the past three seasons is 4-23. The Buffs have hit rock bottom, and they have a Rocky Mountain to climb up to reach Pac-12 elite.

Mike MacIntyre, the former San Jose State head coach, will be entering his second season trying to lead the program back up the mountain. Climbing the mountain is a task MacIntyre knows all about as he led the San Jose State Spartans from a one win program in 2010 to ten win program in 2012. The Colorado Athletic Department hopes MacIntyre can do it again with the Buffs.

However, 2013 was a horrible start for MacIntyre as the Colorado Buffaloes finished 1-8 in the Pac-12 and they were dominated on the field in every quarter.

Team1st Qtr2nd Qtr3rd Qtr4th QtrTotal
Opponents11412310160396
Colorado33492477183
Colorado Statistical analysis provided by Gary Doran

Digging deeper into the Buffs 2013 Pac-12 season, there are very few glimpses of hope based on the results from last season.

Team TotalsColoradoOpponentsDifference
First Downs167225-58
Total Offensive TDs1949-30
Rushing TDs528-23
Passing TDs1421-7
Net Rushing Yards10392200-1161
Average Per Rush3.265.41-2.15
Net Passing Yards20502585-535
Red Zone Chances2654-28
Third-Down Conversions31%43%-12%
Fourth-Down Conversions23%61%-38%
Colorado Statistical analysis provided by Gary Doran

Several glaring points stand out. Colorado allowed its opponents 28 more red zone chances. That is three more scoring opportunities a game! Colorado hurt its own chances at winning by only converted 31% of its third down chances, while it allowed its opponents to convert 43% of their chances. Most of this can be a direct result of an extremely poor rushing attack. Colorado only scored five rushing touchdowns in conference play which is 23 fewer than its opponents. Additionally, Colorado averaged the second years rushing yards per attempt as well as the second fewest first downs by rushing the ball. MacIntyre can thank Washington State’s Mike Leach for not finishing deal last in the conference in those two categories.

The one positive out of the 2013 season was that highly regarded freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau got his first tastes of college football. Of course, Liufau struggled without any rushing offense. Liufau finished 149-251-8 for 1779 yards with 12 touchdowns. His completion rate was under 60%, and Liufau threw an interception once every 31 passes, but a touchdown only once every 21 passes. To further his development, the Buffs offensive line must make improvements this season to help the rushing attack and by Liufau time.

The other big question about Liufau is who will step up to replace Paul Richardson? Richardson, the star of the 2013 team and 2nd Round NFL Draft pick by the Seattle Seahawks, had 11 receptions greater than 20 yards. Nine other receivers only made a combined 16 receptions greater than 20 yards, so somebody has to step up or this Buffaloes offense will be completely stalled.

So, there is nowhere else to go but up for the Colorado Buffaloes, and MacIntyre, with Liufau, must take those first slow steps up in order for the Buffs to become Pac-12 relevant.

 

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