Q&A: In the Buff

James Bryant -- publisher of BuffPlaybook.com -- joins us for a Q&A in advance of Saturday's contest in Boulder, Colo., between the two cellar-dwellers of the Pac-12 North and the Pac-12 South.

BearTerritory: What changes has Mike MacIntyre affected in the Colorado program since he came in this past winter?

James Bryant: MacIntyre and his coaching staff bring a positive approach to Colorado. He and his coaching staff are more teachers and motivators than a screaming type of staff. They have been busy building this team's confidence and working to teach the Buffs how to win again.

BT: One thing that the Buffs and the Bears have in common this season is some spectacularly woeful tackling, as evinced by the 37 tackles Colorado missed against the Huskies. Is this due to some bad habits that have to be beaten out of the players, or something else?

JB: That's a very good question. This team hasn't missed 37 tackles probably in all their other Pac-12 games combined. Talking with the coaches, the Buffs were there to make the tackle, but just missed. This coaching staff has made sure to emphasize the fundamentals of tackling this week.

BT: How has the team – and the community in general – bounced back and responded from the floods that wiped out the game against Fresno State?

JB: It was great to see how this football team rallied around its community and fans during this horrible time. Instead of playing a game that Saturday against Fresno State, the Buff players, coaches and administrators took all of the food that was prepared for Saturday's game and shared it with the entire campus, the city of Boulder and surrounding areas. To see how the roaring creeks run through their practice field, it was amazing on how they were able to come back and focus on football.

BT: How much did the layoff from the 38-24 win over Central Arkansas and the 44-17 loss to Oregon State set the Buffs back?

JB: You would like to say a lot, but I'm not sure it did. The Buffs ran into a hot Oregon State team that couldn't do anything wrong. You could tell there was some rust to Buffs' attitudes, but honestly it was the Beavers' day.

BT: Cal fans twitch and start uttering obscenities whenever the name of Paul Richardson is mentioned, because of his 11-catch, 284-yard day two seasons ago in Boulder. What has he done to improve, and how did missing the entire 2012 season affect his game and his progression as a player?

JB: He is better now than he was then, from everything I have seen and been told. Now the biggest question will be will Cal fans see a healthy Paul Richardson. He was banged up the last two weeks, but a 70% Richardson is better than a lot of 100% players. Him missing the 2012 season seemed to really make him hungrier, with a chip on his shoulder and a need to prove he is back and that he is one of the best receivers in the conference.

BT: Colorado's defense has struggled almost as much as Cal's, ranking 115th in the nation in total defense (485.3 ypg). Is that due to a new system being installed, youth, injuries or something else?

JB: Well you've had a true freshman (Addison Gillam) starting at middle linebacker and at one of the safety positions (Tedric Thompson). There isn't a lot of depth on the Buffs defensive line, and there is a lot of youth on this team. They have showed signs of improvement at times, and then sometimes exposed.

BT: What was it about quarterback Connor Wood that prompted the coaching staff to make a change to true freshman Sefo Liufau midway through the season?

JB: One word will describe the biggest difference between Connor Wood and Sefo Liufau: Poise. The true freshman has more of it than the junior. Wood often got rattled under pressure and played differently in front of tough road crowds than he did at home. During the Arizona State game MacIntyre and staff decided to go with the future of the program, and that, evidently, is Liufau.

BearTerritory.net Top Stories