Colorado Buffaloes coach Mike MacIntyre, running back Phillip Lindsay and linebacker Derek McCartney took questions during day one of Pac-12 media days.
MacIntyre opened the media session with an upbeat attitude saying “We have a lot to prove.” The comment came after CU was picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12 South Division, seventh overall in the conference’s preseason media poll.
Lindsay shot down Colorado’s projected down year saying, “That’s why they call it a preseason poll. Because you have to play the football game to find out what it’s about. If that’s the case, we wouldn’t play.”
The session had a much different feeling from last year when the Buffs felt like underdogs and quickly proved themselves as contenders.
Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre pic.twitter.com/QzHYgD6ea0— Lynn Worthy (@LWorthySports) July 26, 2017
MacIntyre, last year’s national Coach of the Year, didn’t hold back from expressing how the Buffaloes are perceived by the rest of the nation.
“We’re still a team that people don’t believe in and we would like for people to believe in us,” MacIntyre said.
He followed that statement up by reaffirming the goal for the 2017 season. “What we want to do is be in the Pac-12 Championship game and not get our brains beat in like we did last year against Washington. So we would like to finish it better.”
Here’s other topics MacIntyre covered during his time at the podium.
On the impact of losing defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt to Oregon
“Jim did a great job for us. We’ve hired a excellent guy in D.J. Eliot in the exact same scheme, the scheme I wanted to put in when Jim came. One of my best friends is secondary coach at the 49ers, and that's how I got to know Jim. That's what I wanted to do. Similar scheme I ran when I was at the Cowboys as a secondary coach. And we've hybrided it, hybrid outside backer, safety, DB type of guy. So when we install the spread teams, I wanted to be able to two-gap and do all of that.”
“Jim did an excellent job of setting that up and getting it going. We weren’t able to match the money the Oregon paid him by any means. When he told me how much he was making, I said: Why are you even sitting here? Move on. I hated to lose him, but D.J. Eliot ran the exact same defense at Kentucky. Kentucky made big strides over the last few years and he was a big part of it.”
On last year’s success
“Well, I felt like coming into last season, I was saying it and a lot of people were laughing at me when I said we could be Pac-12 champions and I never told our team before that and I never said that publicly before last year. And we had makings to do that. We got there, We just didn’t finish it like we wanted to.”
“I felt like as the season went along, our back-to-back road games at Michigan and Oregon. We played well against Michigan, but screwed it up, but i think that gave our kids a lot of confidence.... wow, we can do this... and then winning the game in the style that we did at Oregon, where the year before we lost a lot of close games. We’d be ahead, comeback and lose at the end. To win it that way just propelled them and gave them confidence at the end of games last year. That we were able to finish games off and be more successful.“
On running a 3-4 “hybrid” scheme and having defensive personnel to run it in 2017
“We do, we’ve recruited to it. That’s what you do, you recruit to it and rebuild. We have what I consider six starters back on defense. Derek McCartney going be there. Isaiah Oliver, who I think as one of the best corners in college football. So, we have those guys back. Rick Gamboa, who’s one of our leading tacklers. We have two of our safeties back, Ryan Moeller and Afolabi Laguda. And so our defensive front is good. We were able to redshirt a lot of guys, build em’ up. We were able to sign a couple of excellent junior college players, came in the spring and played really well. We won’t be as salty early on defense as we were last year, but as the season goes on we will.”
CU’s offense might be one of the best in recent memory. A stout offensive line, one of the best corps of wide receivers in the nation and a solid running game. All of those factors could boost the Buffaloes chances to win close games behind a young quarterback.
Mike MacIntyre on Pac-12 Network on Montez: "We have had a lot of talks... mainly I have been talking to him about understanding the grind."— Adam Munsterteiger (@adamcm777) July 26, 2017
Lindsay and McCartney took to the stage after MacIntyre with the clear message that CU shouldn’t be counted out next season.
Lindsay on the Buffs being a “target.”
McCartney on Leadership
On a lighter note, Lindsay wanted the world to know he was rocking the “Afro before Colin Kaepernick.”
Hopefully Lindsay will have a longer NFL career than the recently blackballed, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback.
CU opens fall camp on Friday with the first closed practice on Saturday (7/29). The team will host a practice open to the public on Saturday, Aug. 5 at 10 am. Seating for the event is on a first-come, first-serve basis.