Pressure to produce

During his first season calling the plays for the Colorado football team, offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau's offense finished in the bottom third of Bowl Championship Subdivision teams in most areas of offensive production. Kiesau and the Buffs must turn that around this year or it will be another long season.

Eric Kiesau is getting more out of spring practice than grading his quarterbacks and evaluating plays and schemes. It has been practice for him, too.

The Colorado offensive coordinator called plays for the first time in his career on game days last fall, and he's doing more of it this spring as he tries to evolve in the role.

In previous years, Colorado came to the practice fields each day during the spring with much of what it wanted to do offensively already scripted. This spring Kiesau is calling plays during practices as if he was in the box high above Folsom Field looking down to the field and evaluating what gives him the best chance to pick up third-and-six.

"That's been awesome as well," Kiesau said. "I love it."

Kiesau can relate to some of the younger players he is coaching this spring. He has something in common with them. Players such as wide receiver Will Jefferson and offensive linemen Mike Iltis and Ethan Adkins got their first taste of regular playing time at the college level last season, and they're looking to build on it this year. Kiesau is in the same boat.

"Last year, and I don't know why, I was never worried about game day and calling plays," Kiesau said. "I just wasn't nervous about that. You know, the first game obviously a little jittery but I wasn't nervous about it.

"As long as I'm up in the box and in my own zone I'm good. But I do think and I will say I'll get a heck of a lot better. ...Just having that second year and going through it and how things I'm doing differently and I see the game a little differently."

The Buffs ranked 113th in the nation and 11th in the Big 12 Conference in rushing last season. They were 45th in the nation and eighth in the Big 12 in passing. They finished 104th in the nation and last in the conference in total offense and 92nd in the nation and 10th in the conference in scoring.

Kiesau decided to simplify the offense as much as possible this spring to build confidence in his players and allow them to perfect parts of the offense before expanding things again in the fall. He said he likes the results so far. He described enthusiasm as being "off the charts," and he believes the approach coaches have taken has helped fuel that.

"I seriously think it's simplicity, confidence and they're making plays," Kiesau said.


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