Coach MacIntyre's most overbearing obstacle entering the 2013 season is likely rebuilding the Buffs defense, which allowed for a penetrable 46 points per game in 2012.
PAC 12 football largely contrasts with Mountain West Conference football, and Coach Mac has been emphasizing the importance of getting leaner and faster, to compete with PAC 12 powerhouses like USC or Oregon.
In 2012, the Buffs accounted for only 19 sacks. But with the conditioning and pace that the new coaching staff possesses, you can count on the Buffs moving quicker off the line, infiltrating the opposing quarterback, and improving those numbers immensely.
Buffplaybook.com went 1 on 1 with senior defensive tackle Nate Bonsu, who characterized camp so far while also talking about off-season improvements.
Buffplaybook.com Question: Nate, tell us how camp under Coach MacIntyre this year has compared to your previous camps under Jon Embree in 2011 and 2012, and your freshman year with Dan Hawkins?
Nate Bonsu Answer: Coach Mac is all about reps, and getting everybody reps no matter if your first string or fourth string. He's just about getting reps because football is a tough sport and you never know what can happen (the Buffs have been plagued with injuries in recent years), if somebody goes down and only ones and twos (first and second string players) have been getting reps all camp, then maybe that three would have to go in and he wouldn't know what to do. But during practice, Mac makes sure that everyone is getting a whole lot of reps, not just a little bit, and if that time comes when a third string player needs to get on the field, he'll be ready. That has been the biggest difference in Coach Mac's camp.
BPB: Buffs fans know that the D-line and O-line were some of the weaker aspects of Buffs football in 2012, and there has been a lot of emphasis on the line getting quicker and leaner. Do you think any newcomers have the ability to make strides in the upcoming season? And would you say that any players at your position group have clearly stepped up over the off-season?
NB: I feel like a lot of freshmen are getting better. Derrick (Webb, ILB), Jimmie (Gilbert, OLB), those guys, and even a lot of the older guys are improving as a group. Anytime there's a coaching change there are new techniques and new goals the coaches wants to accomplish on defense. I feel like with the coaching staff, they have been harping on us to get our techniques down, that's just what we've been practicing as a unit, from the young guys to the old guys, we're improving.
BPB: Nate, what do you personally want to accomplish this upcoming season, your last as a Buff?
NB: I've been saying this consistently, it might sound like a team goal, but my personal goal is to get to a bowl game. You can say that's my personal goal and goal for the team overall. That's the biggest thing for us, especially the older guys and the seniors. We've been through a lot of changes, have had a lot of hard times, and it would mean the world to us for our hard work to pay off and get to that bowl game.
BPB: If there was one NFL player, former or current, that you'd like to emulate your game after, who would you say that would be and why?
NB: I mean he just went to the Hall of Fame a couple of weeks ago and that is Warren Sapp. I always watched him a lot when I was growing up, that was my generation. He was number 99 as well, and that's the reason I picked 99 in high school. He was big, but was one of the quickest off the line and is one the greatest defensive tackles to play the game. He's one of the only d-tackles that had as many sacks as he did, so he's one of my inspirations.
BPB: Knowing how Coach Mac turned around San Jose State from a one-win team in 2010 to an 11-2 team two years later, accompanied by a bowl game win over Bowling Green last year, what are the player's opinions on the new staff?
NB: Obviously Coach Mac knows what he's talking about. In three years he took a team that nobody even had on their radar, to almost beating Stanford last year, I mean they should have beat Stanford, and they won 11 games last year. He's also coached in the league; he has been around great coaches like Bill Parcells. He has the insights of a great coach and also has a great staff surrounding him, like Coach Baer (defensive coordinator and linebackers coach) and Coach Jeffcoat (defensive line coach) who has one two Superbowls, it doesn't really get much better than that. He definitely knows what he is talking about, and that's on us to buy into what they're saying. That is always a process but I feel as if it is happening soon, even quicker than many have thought of us. We can see what he did, and a lot of guys are buying in and that's what we need.
BPB: We know that the improvement and health of the D-line will be essential to the Buffs pass rush and run block in 2013? How are you feeling right now about a week and half into camp, and are you 100% healthy?
NB:As healthy as you can be after two weeks of camp (laughs), we're just grinding everyday. Like Coach says all the time, there's going to be those dog days, everyone has something going on, but football is a man's sport and after a couple of practices no one comes out here at 100% anymore. But it's just about mental toughness and coming out here and working hard everyday, and I feel like we're doing that at D-line, we just have to keep training to continue getting better so we can get on the field and do our best everyday.
As time progresses and the countdown to the Rocky Mountain Showdown versus the CSU Rams approaches on September 1st , Buffs Fall camp has intensified. As Nate told us, there are still kinks that need to be addressed, both offensively and defensively, but coaches and players alike are excited by the improvement the Buffs have made so far, now almost two weeks into camp.