Back on August 19th at the annual booster luncheon event, Mike MacIntyre said, “14 days from now we'll be eating a pregame meal and getting ready to kick someone's (expletive) up north.”
Since then, the Buffaloes' head coach has been careful not to give Colorado State any more bulletin board material. During Tuesday's luncheon with the local media, MacIntyre went out of his way to praise the Rams.
"All the depth charts finally came out and I was looking at it. I have been hearing about how young CSU is. They have 16 seniors on the two deep, we have 16 seniors. We have six freshmen in our two-deep, they have four freshmen in their two deep. I am not buying that they are not a good football team. They are a really good football team," he said. “Their offensive line kicked our butt last year, [Dalyn] Dawkins ran all over us, and they have a quarterback that is really good.
"Coach [Marty] English knows what he is doing. Two years ago when he was their defensive coordinator they pretty much shut us down. Mike Bobo is an excellent head coach and coordinator. Their offensive line was one of the best offensive lines we played last year and this year I expect that to be the same. They have one of the best punters in America. It is going to be a tough, tough, tough game for us but our young men are excited about playing.”
Becoming a better tackling team has been a point of emphasis for Jim Leavitt this off-season, and because Colorado State's strength is its running attack, the Buffs' defense will get tested out the gate.
“Our defensive line has to come to play. They pushed us around last year,” MacIntyre said. “They are going to run the football. Mike [Bobo] has always done a good job of finding ways to run the ball. … I still think they'll make some runs but we'll have to give up less explosive plays than we did.”
MacIntyre later went out of his way to praise his own team.
“I really like this football team. I have said that a lot. I get excited when I talk about this team,” he said. “This is by far the most talented, the best football team we've had here. Now we have to go do it on Saturdays or Friday night or Thursday night, whenever we play.
“I am excited about this team and how it has evolved. We'll have some tough moments, we'll have exhilarating moments. Watching this team grow up in front of my eyes has been fun. I wished that process could have gone quicker but I think this team is ready to take a step in the right direction.”
Liufau plans to soak it all in
Sefo Liufau expects to be smiling when he runs out onto the field at Mile High Stadium on Friday night.
“If you would have asked me a week after I broke my foot, I would have been like, 'I don't know if I am going to make it back.' So to be in the position I am at is a great feeling," he said. "There will be some butterflies, I am excited. But for the most part, I'll be locked in and ready to play with my teammates.”
MacIntyre first called Liufau's quick recovery from the Lisfranc injury “a minor miracle,” and then he later said it might have been “a big miracle.”
“He worked tirelessly,” MacIntyre said. “He has looked good in practice. I am looking forward to him having the year he deserves to have.”
MacIntyre said Liufau's work with a private quarterback coach in Portland, when the Buffs' coaches were not allowed to work with him late spring and early summer, helped his velocity and his accuracy. And Liufau believes he has had a heightened sense of focus since returning from the injury. He decided to delete his Twitter app at the beginning of camp in order to eliminate distractions.
“When you break your foot, there is a realization you might not play again. I am blessed to be able to come back. And with it also being my senior year, there is a realization there are only so many snaps of college football left in me,” Liufua said.
“I am definitely holding people accountable on offense because I see how good we can be,” he added. “We have high goals and if you don't hold yourself accountable, you'll never reach your goals.”
Colorado's weekly injury report -
Wide receiver Jaleel Awini: Back, out indefinitely
Offensive tackle Isaac Miller: Knee, out indefinitely
Wide receiver Juwann Winfree: Knee, out for the season
Defensive back Jaisen Sanchez: Knee, out for the season
Inside linebacker Trent Headley: Shoulder, out for the season
Additional notes -
*** After struggling in each of the last two openers, MacIntyre said he tried to change their practice schedule around this preseason with the hope they will be “fresher” for this year's first game.
*** MacIntyre on what he has seen from inside linebacker Addison Gillam this preseason: “I see biceps and triceps. He is bigger and stronger. He has a big neck now. He has done well in practice. We treated him like an old vet, though. He was coming off a pretty rough knee injury. We have a good thing in that we have our leading tacklers from the last three seasons back. All three – Gillam, Kenneth Olugbode and Rick Gamboa – are extremely bright and can play both [inside linebacker] positions so we'll rotate them in there.”
*** Senior outside linebacker Jimmie Gilbert also addressed the media during Tuesday's press luncheon. He was politically correct with his answers, often reciting their plan to take it one game at a time, but he admitted this is an important season.
“My freshman year, one of the guys to help teach me was Chidera Uzo-Diribe. We didn't send him off with wins the way we wanted to. So to now be here as a senior, it is important we reach the goals we've set out to get since Coach Mac[Intyre] and the team has been here,” he said. “We have a lot of experience, we have a lot of energy, we have a lot of talent, and this is our year to showcase it. I feel like the whole team whole heatedly believes the same thing.”