The state of Buffs football: An interview with Matt McChesney

Doug Pensinger

McChesney always speaks from the heart when discussing the Buffaloes.

Former Buff and Brono Matt McChesney jumped on the phone with us to talk a little about Colorado football and his new show on ESPN 1580.

What are you thoughts on the season the Buffaloes have had so far?

Obviously there's a lot of struggles. People see the talent gap on the field, there's really no way to hide that in the Pac-12. One thing that I do see consistently, which is a positive, is they play hard. They seem to be prepared, they're not getting out schemed necessarily, they're just beat physically which can be fixed with recruiting and getting people in MacIntyre's system and having people buy in and everything that goes in to turning something around. But if the foundation blocks are there, you know, being able to practice correctly, keeping guys healthy, having the building blocks there to be successful with your scheme and just by lining up. It gives you an opportunity to win ball games.

Last year I don't even know how many times I saw them misaligned, mental mistakes, out of position, no idea what they're doing, terrible penalties, sneaking it on first and ten thinking it's fourth and one. That kind of stuff plus a talent gap gets you crushed. Just having a talent gap allows you to be competitive, which we saw against UCLA. They're getting better and better each week. It's gonna take time to rebuild something that, honestly, is burnt to the ground right now.

You kind of answered a lot of my next question so that's good, talking about what we have seen, the difference with schemes and formations and fundamentals with MacIntyre vs. the previous regime... and obviously you're watching as a former player who looks at things completely different from someone who didn't play. Do you feel better about where those schemes, formations, fundamentals... do you feel like those are being addressed better than they were before and that they're being put in place to lead this team to hopefully have success at some point?

Last year they were over their head and you saw what was happening.

I have no doubt that Embree and EB and those coaches were teaching fundamentals, I have no doubt that they were cause half of those guys were my position coaches when I was at CU from 2000 - 2004 so I know what kind of assistant coaches they are. But when you have a first time head coach and first time coordinators on both sides of the ball there's nobody to look at in trying times and say "he has the experience to know what to do here" and everybody was just over their head last year and it showed. I said this last year and I got crucified for it but I don't care, people can be as mad as they want at me and what do I care? Last year they were over their head and you saw what was happening.

This year I think that they're teaching fundamentals but they know how to connect with the players a little bit better. They're trying to be more positive and they're not MF'ing people constantly. I don't really have one particular thing that I see them doing that's changing my mind, I just feel like the players have bought in a little bit more and right now everybody's being held accountable on the same plane. So there's nobody that's getting special treatment, there's nobody that's treated differently. Everyone is equal and everyone's the same. It doesn't matter if you're a true freshman or a senior. Addison Gillam is the best football player on that team right now other than Paul Richardson and he's a true freshman greyshirt. It doesn't matter, you can play, CU is a place where you can go and make a difference. I like seeing that honestly.

How do you feel about Sefo Liufau's prospects for the rest of this season and then even beyond assuming that he holds on to the job, based on what we've seen from his first three and a half games at the helm?

I like Sefo. I think that Sefo is a guy that they can build around. It's been a long time since CU has had a good quarterback, a guy that can win the games instead of having to win games despite them. You can tell he's already a leader and that's the type of thing you can't coach. But he is getting his ass kicked week in and week out.

The offensive line... there's getting beat for scheme and there's getting beat one-on-one and their scheme is fine. They're picking up blitzes, they're mike pointing correctly, they're doing things that can put them in position to be successful but Nembot and Harris are getting beat like a drum every weekend and it just... at some point the offensive line is going to have to give him a little bit of help so that he can get the ball to Richardson.

"damn, they look like a football team tonight, they're ready to play, they're hitting these boys in the mouth"

We saw what kind of team CU could potentially be last Saturday against UCLA. That was a game where things started to click and we dominated time of possession and it was a game where I was like "damn, they look like a football team tonight, they're ready to play, they're hitting these boys in the mouth" and obviously they didn't win but they put quality football on tape. That's something that they can turn on in the film room and say look, what we're preaching is working. It's working, keep grinding and keep working and we're gonna pull out of this and pretty soon we're gonna end up beating the shit out people, which would be nice.

I think it was, not that Connor necessarily didn't have it, but it was nice to see Sefo get in some guys faces after taking a hit and it seemed like the team kind started to rally around him at that point and they did kind of start to push back which is something that we haven't seen that late in a game in a long time.

Sure, you either are a leader or you aren't, I don't think you can teach it. You either have the ability to hold people accountable and call people out and, you know, jump on someones ass if you have to... you either feel comfortable doing that and that is your personality or you don't and it's not your personality and you don't. I think that's Sefo's personality. I don't think he has a problem saying "you missed your block, get your head out of your ass and block somebody". That's the difference. He'll probably be the first three-time captain at the University of Colorado. He'll probably wear that C for the next decade as far as I'm concerned. I'd love to see it on his chest right now.

There's a lot of youth playing on this team, there's a lot of guys coming back and looking at the make up of this roster and some of the guys that we've seen emerge this year do you feel like the places are in place for this Buffs team over the next 1-2 years to get back to being a consistent bowl participant? What else is needed for them to get over that hump in year two and year three of Mike MacIntyre's time in Boulder?

They just need to consistently buy in and they need to buy in this offseason and they need to work harder than they've ever worked. What I think is special about the situation is... I worked with a couple of guys that went up to CU in the offseason. Tim Coleman, the defensive end that's had a lot of injury problems but I think he'll end up being a really good player. John Lisella, who's actually greyshirting, a guy I'm working with now and throughout the whole fall. Getting him ready to go up there in the spring. And then Chris Hill, who's a longsnapper, a walk-on from Mount Vista. Now, Hill's a walk-on and people probably won't pay him a lot of mind but he's a physical freak, he busts his ass, he's one of the hardest working guys I've had in here in my time and I've had a lot of good ones. He called me after he got up to CU for summer running. He said that he was running with the tight end group and they had like 10 or 12 hundreds that they had to do that day for conditioning which, as a strength coach, that ain't shit, that's nothing. Doc Kreis back in the day used to make us run for miles upon miles and just be like, "that ain't gonna work son, you better move yo ass". So they had nothing, it's not a hard run and he said that he boned out on the first two or three of them and he got back to the line and he was first every time. I tell him all the time that you need to go up there and work as hard as you can, f**k what anyone says. If anyone tells you to slow down then that's a problem. He said that on the second or third rep they got back to the line and a bunch of the veteran tight ends, guys that play now, I don't need to say any names, walked up to him and said "hey you just got here. Why don't you slow down you're making us look bad." My response was "that's that kind of mentality that is unacceptable. Unacceptable."

You knew you were gonna get a fist fight for four quarters regardless of talent level. We didn't always have the best teams but you knew we were gonna fight you consistently. That's what they've been lacking but I see it coming back.

I want you to understand that the University of Colorado is all I care about athletically. The NFL is a business, you know, the sports world is business. CU is my blood, I love that place and I hate where it is and I really want it to pull out. When I hear things like this I can't help but be emotionally effected because it drives me nuts. So I remember telling Hill, "people like that are part of the problem, you can't fall into that rut, just brush that off and go back to work, don't fall into that mindset." Once somebody in that locker room this offseason decides to step up and maybe whip somebody's ass, maybe start throwing some fists in the locker room, piss somebody off or maybe say something that makes somebody uncomfortable... Until someone does that there's always going to be that "don't try to hard you'll make me look bad" mentality. That shit ain't gonna fly in Boulder anymore and I don't think MacIntyre is going to allow it to. I think that they will be better, but somebody on that team... and you saw Paul Richardson do it the other night, Paul's not a big dude but he bro'd out and that's the kind of leadership that was in Boulder when I was there. You knew you were gonna get a fist fight for four quarters regardless of talent level. We didn't always have the best teams but you knew we were gonna fight you consistently. That's what they've been lacking but I see it coming back. Attitude goes a long way in college football, you can't fabricate it either. Some guys want to dress up like football players, other guys are.

Well I know a lot of Buffs fans feel the exact same way that you do and that a lot of readers really like hearing some of those candid viewpoints. Tell us a little bit about your show down in Colorado Springs for our readers down there and how our readers in Denver and Boulder and all over the state can tune in.

The new show is on ESPN 1580. It's called The Blitz. My co-host is Andrew Fogoros. We try and keep it light, we wanna inform but we also want to push the limits a little bit on what we can say. We get in trouble all the time for things that we say and things like that but it is what it is. That's the whole point of radio, to piss somebody off. It's everyday from 2-4, Monday through Friday and it's really taking off. You can hit us up on ESPN1580.com, you can hit us up on iTunes if you type in my name, Andrew's name or The Blitz ESPN 1580. There's also a ESPN 1580 app on iOS and Android. It's an awesome show and we push the limits. We try and cover everything from the national scene to the local scene, we even do high school segments every week. I also do Broncos pre-game on 103.5 The Fox every gameday with Rick Lewis. That's an hour long show two hours before kickoff.

You can also check out Matt's strength training at Six Zero Strength.

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