Buffs try to figure out way to finish games
Oct. 09, 2014
Sometimes, Mike MacIntyre's emotions get the better of him and even his wallet.
Upset over calls last weekend, the Colorado coach stormed after officials following a close loss to Oregon State and was later fined $10,000 by the Pac-12 Conference.
Always passionate, the Colorado coach can't mask his moods on the sideline, with cameras constantly catching him scrunching his face.
Recently, there's been plenty to scrunch about: In each of the last two weeks, the Buffaloes (2-4, 0-3 Pac-12) have squandered opportunities, losing a 59-56 double-overtime thriller at Cal and falling 36-31 at home to the Beavers.
His team's biggest obstacle is finding a way to finish in the fourth quarter. Or, as MacIntyre said, instilling the belief they really do deserve to win after so many subpar seasons.
"Our kids taste it. They understand they can win every game. Just got to find a way to make some plays and finish at the end," said MacIntyre, whose team has a bye this weekend before playing at USC on Oct. 18. "We've got to find a way to get it done."
They're making inroads in MacIntyre's second season in charge. Or showing signs anyway.
Consider this: The Buffaloes were annihilated by Arizona State 54-13 in Tempe, Arizona, a season ago, but had a chance in the fourth quarter last month in Boulder, Colorado, before falling 38-24.
Change isn't going to happen overnight for a program that hasn't been to a bowl game since 2007.
"He inherited a very difficult situation," Sun Devils coach Todd Graham said. "I see the heart they play with, how hard they play. ... They're playing like the personality of their coach."
And that personality is quite fiery on game days.
Like last weekend, when MacIntyre became so infuriated with officials for flags thrown and not thrown that he chased after them. That led to a reprimand by the conference and the fine.
These days, MacIntyre's trying to get his players to buy in and believe they can persevere in the fourth quarter, no matter what. It's been a challenge.
"We've been in every game going into the fourth quarter and had a chance every single game," MacIntyre said. "That hasn't happened around here in a long time."
But that's the thing about the league this season — it's loaded with parity. Each week, games are going down to the wire, maybe even down to a Hail Mary pass.
The Buffaloes had a chance to beat the Bears in double overtime, but some confusion near the goal line led to a fourth-down stop. Cal then kicked a short field goal for the win.
Simply another close call.
"It's hard sometimes when you go someplace that hasn't won recently. It makes it harder to get over the hump," Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. "He's going through that right now, trying to grow the program. It's hard to do in this league. Everyone is good. Tough sledding in this league right now."
Because everyone seems to have a veteran quarterback, whether it be Marcus Mariota at Oregon or Connor Halliday at Washington State or Kevin Hogan at Stanford.
MacIntyre feels he has a burgeoning QB, too, in Sefo Liufau, who's thrown for 1,887 yards and 19 TDs this season. Liufau's favorite target has been Nelson Spruce, with 62 catches.
"Sefo is definitely improving and getting better and better," MacIntyre said. "Nelson, of course, has had a phenomenal year. I am pleased with how he's producing."
Next week, the Buffs face USC's dynamic offense directed by QB Cody Kessler. Could take plenty of points to win, too. Usually does in this high-scoring league.
"I don't think you can hardly win without scoring at least 35," MacIntyre said. "USC has great talent.
"We're working on ourselves. We need to put (everything) together in the fourth quarter and finish out a game. That's what we're shooting to do."