DENVER (AP) – Understandably, Mike MacIntyre is a little anxious for his Colorado Buffaloes debut.
Then again, the new CU coach has never lost to Colorado State, going 2-0 against the Rams when he was in charge at San Jose State.
This is an entirely different situation as MacIntyre begins his bid to turn around a team coming off a program-worst 1-11 campaign. History won’t exactly be on MacIntyre’s side Sunday against the Rams, considering that since the 1930s, only one CU coach has won in his debut (Rick Neuheisel in 1995).
“You’ve done all this work and now you want to see them play and they want to play so that’s the fun part of it,” said MacIntyre, who takes over for Jon Embree. “You get the butterflies and you get the excitement. That’s one of the great things about coaching and it’s one of the great things about playing. You kind of feel alive for that moment, for sure, and it’s always a lot of fun.”
Here are five things to watch for when Colorado plays Colorado State in the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown at Mile High:
1. RETURN OF RICHARDSON: Part of the reason for CU’s offensive woes last season was the absence of electric receiver Paul Richardson (ACL). The speedy wideout certainly showed his big-game capability in 2011, when he had a school-record 284 yards receiving against California. Richardson is on a lot of the watch lists for national awards this season. Said QB Connor Wood on having Richardson back in camp this summer: “It’s like Christmas in August.” CSU coach Jim McElwain certainly has a healthy dose of respect for Richardson. “That guy is fast,” McElwain said. “That guy is faster than any guy we had at Alabama, I guarantee that. We better know where the guy is.”
2. CSU’S QB CONUNDRUM: McElwain will wait until the team is warming up Sunday to announce his starting QB. Junior Garrett Grayson and sophomore Conner Smith appear to be the favorites. The dark horse candidate is freshman Nick Stevens. “I’m excited about the three of them and we’ll find out who is ready to play,” McElwain said.
3. REBOUNDING: The Buffaloes carry an eight-game losing streak into the season. However, the players quickly dismissed the skid as a thing of the past. “I think with the new change of scenery with the coaches; I think there’s a new sense of optimism,” Wood said. “You’re trying to find out who you are as a team. First game, you’re going to find out how tough you’re going to be. You’re going to find out who you are as a team as a whole.”
4. SUNDAY NIGHT SHOWDOWN: The Buffs and Rams are meeting for only the fourth time on a Sunday. CU has a 2-1 edge on that particular day of the week. This series has visited quite a few days of the week over its history, with four games being played on a Thursday, one on a Wednesday and another on a Monday. Regardless of the day, McElwain believes the rivalry is good for the state. CU holds a commanding 61-21-2 edge in the series. “I think it’s just something that makes college football something special,” McElwain said.
5. ROTATING RBS: MacIntyre will go with a running back by committee approach for now. Christian Powell, Tony Jones, Donta Abron, Malcolm Creer and Michael Adkins II could all see time. “We’ll play a few running backs for sure,” MacIntyre said. “We have certain things that certain guys do well. … The more playmakers you have the better you are on offense – period.”
– By Pat Graham, AP Sports Writer
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