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Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014

Pac-12 preview: Coach Mike MacIntyre reshaping the Colorado Buffaloes

By Dirk Facer, Deseret News

Published: Fri, Aug. 1 10:46 p.m. MDT

 Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre shouts to his team in the second quarter during an NCAA college football game against Utah Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre shouts to his team in the second quarter during an NCAA college football game against Utah Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(Rick Bowmer, AP)

Editor's note: This is the sixth in a series previewing the Pac-12 football season.

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Mike MacIntyre isn’t the man he used to be. The Colorado coach has shed more than 55 pounds since last season.

MacIntyre explained that if he didn’t take care of himself, he couldn’t take care of everybody else.

After one season in Boulder, Colorado, MacIntyre has every reason to spread himself thin. He’s in the midst of building a program. The Buffaloes are coming off a 4-8 campaign, including a 1-8 mark in Pac-12 play.

“We’re excited about the future at Colorado,” MacIntyre said. “The future is now for a football coach always.”

MacIntyre noted that ground has already been broken on a new $143 million football facility and stadium renovations are underway.

Things are changing at CU.

It remains to be seen, though, if MacIntyre can transform things as quickly as he did at San Jose State. He took the Spartans from 1-11 to 10-2 in a span of three seasons.

OFFENSE: Junior wide receiver Nelson Spruce is the go-to guy now that Paul Richardson has moved on to the NFL. Spruce caught 55 passes for 650 yards last season. Quarterback Sefo Liufau is back for an encore after a successful freshman season. He appeared in eight games and threw for 1,779 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Colorado’s ground game has a one-two punch with junior Christian Powell and sophomore Michael Adkins II, who rushed for 562 and 535 yards, respectively, in 2013.

The offensive line has three returning starters. Senior tight end Kyle Slavin is also back.

CU was last in the Pac-12 in total offense in 2013 with 369.9 yards per game.

DEFENSE: There’s good news and bad news for the Buffs. On the positive side, they have eight returning starters, including Pac-12 tackles leader Addison Gillam. The sophomore linebacker topped the conference with 8.9 stops per game last season. Senior cornerback Greg Henderson is another player to watch. He had a team-high four interceptions.

On the negative side of things, Colorado’s defense — as a whole — struggled in 2013. The Buffaloes were last in the league in rushing defense (208 ypg) and sacks (17). They ranked 11th in scoring defense (38.2 ppg) and total defense (468 ypg).

SPECIAL TEAMS: Senior kicker Will Oliver made all 30 of his PATs and was 17 of 24 on field goal attempts. ... Senior punter Darragh O’Neill was tied for fifth in the Pac-12 last season with a 40.5 yards-per-punt average. ... Colorado ranked 12th in the conference in kickoff coverage at 36.2 yards.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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1. Christine B. Hedgefog
Salt Lake City, UT,
Aug. 2, 2014

We utes should be flooding this article with comments, given that they're our new biggest rival and opponent at the annual great rocky mountain pillow fight.

I'll always despise the buffs for being the only thing that kept our utes from the superbowl our first year in the big boy league, before reality set in and we took our rightful place in the basement, with colorado.

2. Irrelevant
Provo, UT,
Aug. 2, 2014

Anybody Anybody? Please don't tell me this rivalry is dead.......

3. Two For Flinching
Salt Lake City, UT,
Aug. 3, 2014

Our main rival is BYU.

I like playing CU though. I think MacIntyre can get the Buffs back to where they were a decade ago.

4. UoU 1991
Park City, UT,
Aug. 3, 2014

Just because the conference schedules the Utah-Colorado game during rivalry week doesn't make Colorado any more of a rival than any other team in the PAC 12.

Even the fans who claim BYU isn't Utah's rival, only do so to mock the Cougars.

5. Jeremy234
SLC, UT,
Aug. 4, 2014

I'd like to see a home and home between CU and BYU. I'd bet the Buffs would win both by 14+, but it'd give the Kitties a chance to back up all of their muster.