football Edit

MacIntyre fields questions at Pac-12 Media Days

Below is a transcript of Mike MacIntyre's comments to the print media at Pac-12 Media Days on Thursday. Some questions directed to the Buffaloes' head coach were more intelligent and insightful than others:

Coach, you guys didn't get a Pac-12
win last year, but you were so close in so many
games. What does that do this year for you to
be that close? Is there a hunger factor that
comes into play with that?

Coach MacIntyre: "Yeah, it was. It
was interesting. When I came to CU,
everybody would come up and say I just want to
see a full football game. I want to see a
competition in the Pac-12, and we did that last
year. We left a lot of games on the table, so to
speak. Very frustrating. But our young men were
very young, and just an example of our
quarterback, he's played a lot of games now. He's
set 51 school records last year, and we only won
two games.

"So our whole team is maturing and doing
that. They are hungry about finishing. I think just
all the guys we have back have played a lot.
They've been in those situations. We had quite a
few injuries last year, so even our back-ups have
played a significant amount of plays. In our
conference with all the great teams and us playing
13 games straight, we're going to need all of them.
So we'll win a lot of those close games we lost last
year."

With the stadium and the success
near the end of last year, how do you see this
program moving forward, and what all do you
seek from it?

"We move into our
football facility tomorrow, our overall athletic
department, and new champions center into the
football area of it, a $156 million complex. So we
have commitment from our president, Chancellor,
AD, all the way down. I feel like you can feel the
surge of it. I really do. It's not just me saying that.
There are a lot of people around our program. So
I'm excited about this fall and getting out there and
getting it rolling."

What's been the personal challenge
that you had for your team?

"Well, our personal
challenge is for our young men to trust each other
in the fourth quarter. We were ahead of a lot of
games at halftime. The year before that wasn't the
case, and against very good football teams, highly
ranked football teams with excellent players and
excellent coaches. So our job is to finish the fourth
quarter and trust each other in that heat of battle,
and just execute your job. Those are the things
we've been talking about.

"When you've been there before you can
kind of relax and do that. The maturation process
of a team, especially where we were with all the
young guys playing, when you're a freshman,
you're kind of just glad to be there and be on the
team. As a sophomore, you kind of start playing,
but you're glad you're playing a lot. You're glad
you're starting. Now it's kind of like I'm tired of just
playing. I want to win, I want to be successful. I've
seen that in them. I've seen their attitude and work
ethic change. I've seen the overall maturity of our
football team. If you've seen these guys, I mean,
Stephane and Kenneth are a great example."

Why did you play 13 games last
year? (The Buffs didn't play 13 games last year, but will this year)

"Well, we're playing
13 games because we were playing Hawaii."

No, I know that.

"The way the
calendar falls we have 13 in a row. We picked up
another game. We need to create some more
revenue, so we get another home game, so it puts
money in our budget and everything else as we're
building our program. So we're going to play 13
straight. There are a bunch of teams that play 12
straight. Either they had the last game off or third
game off. I don't like bye weeks anyway. So
hopefully we'll stay healthy and keep playing, so
we can kick our stride and keep the momentum
going. But it is 13 straight."

Coach, how better prepared is the
program to handle that from when you first
took over?

"I think we're better
prepared because we have more depth that's
played games. So if we have an injury that
happens, it won't devastate us as much because a
lot of those kids have already played. Ryan
Moeller, for example, has played in four or five
games as the main safety. Now he'll be competing
for starter or back-up, and the other guys have all
started. So we're deeper at all our different spots.
Even our offensive line is maturing and gelling with
more back-ups which will help us."

Talk about the Hawaii game, you've
done it before, why do you schedule it in?

"Yeah, the good
thing about playing Hawaii the opening game, both
teams will be excited and all of that, but you're not
in the middle of your season and it wears you out
for the rest of the time. We're playing them on
Thursday night."

Oh, it is Thursday night?

"Yes. So we'll fly
out Tuesday, play them on Thursday, and we
come back and land at noon on Friday. Well, we
have time to recover if before the next week. It's
not like you play Saturday night and land Sunday
at noon, and you're trying to get ready to go
Monday.

"So I think the way we have it scheduled
will be beneficial to us. But Hawaii has a new
quarterback in Wittek from USC who is really a
good player. They play really well what they call
the rock. They play well on the rock, so it's going
to be a tough game for us, but we expect to win
every game, so we need to start out doing that."

How do you prepare for a team
bringing in a new coordinator? They got the
fellow from SMU. Will you be looking at SMU
stuff from last year?

"They have a new
defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator.
So we'll look at tape where they've been before,
and put in our defense and offense, and it should
be able to handle anything. They're kind of the
same way too. We've kind of made a few
changes, so it will be a chess match probably early
a little bit."

I saw Isaiah Oliver listed on both
sides of the ball on the roster, which is
something he didn't even do until late in high
school, but really excelled in both. Is it a
matter of it not being determined?

"No, we're going to
look at him at both sides of the ball early in camp
and find out where he would fit the best to help us
this year. He's got so much speed and athleticism.
Hopefully he's ready to do that. So we're kind of
giving him an option. We talked about the it the
other day, myself and him. And he's all up for
doing that."

So you see him playing as a
freshman?

"I'm giving him the
best opportunity to try to play as a freshman with
his speed and athleticism. So if he could help us
quickly at receiver or at corner or that enables us
to do what he can do on special teams, that's what
we'll do. So I give all the freshmen a chance to
play. Hopefully we don't have to play a ton of
them.

"But the better I can give them opportunities
to what they feel most comfortable at coming out of
high school, we'll get them on the field quicker and
be able to help us quicker."

From what you've gathered in your
time in the conference, what is the biggest
challenge of recruiting in this conference?

"The biggest
challenge in recruiting in this conference? Well,
great question. I think that the league is so good.
I think the positive recruiting in this conference is
there are so many people that want to play in the
Pac-12. There are a lot of kids in the south now
that want to play in the Pac-12, the brand of it, the
type of football, the type of energy and throwing
the ball all around, that type of thing. But the hard
thing is the conference is so good right now. Is
everybody's good; and we're at the bottom of it
right now. In our division, the Pac-12 south,
everybody's ranked in the top 25.

"So when we beat a couple of those, we'll
jump to the top 25. I just think the conference is
recruiting for itself in a way, but every team is
making gains the way I see it."

How do you see Sefo's development
going into his third year in terms of grass roots
offense and ability to run the team?

"Sefo's
development is going well. He got thrown into the
fire as a freshman. Last year he played well. We
had a few mistakes here and there, but a lot of that
wasn't really all Sefo's fault. We weren't very good
on defense. We had to keep putting pressure on
him offensively to keep moving the ball down the
field, keep trying to score to stay in the games.
This year will be better on defense. He's more
mature. Our lines are more mature. Our running
backs are more mature. So I feel like we
won't have to put as much pressure on him. I still
feel like he'll have all the great numbers he has,
and he's an excellent leader. He's 6'4 and a
quarter. He's 240 pounds. He has a good arm.
He's a good leader, and he's extremely tough. He
has the ability to escape in the pocket. He's not a
scrambler, but he has the ability to stay alive and
make plays. He started running the ball a lot last
year. He's in better shape and better running
capabilities this year right now than he was last
year. So I see him coming along good. I think
after this year's over, everybody will say he's one
of the best junior quarterbacks in America. I really
do."

How has the relationship developed
with Nelson [Spruce] specifically? I think Nelson did so
well last year. Do you feel like Sefo and he --

"Yeah, for some
reason Nelson had Sefo move into his apartment,
so he could throw it to him more. No, they're really
close. They work hard all the time. They're
together. They're young men that you never, ever,
ever have to worry about, ever. Work ethics,
school, what they're doing, how they're studying.
And Sefo and Nelson have a good timing
relationship. Nelson's bright. We can move him all
over the place when they start trying to key on him,
because he's an excellent player. So I see a good
relationship with those two guys."

When did you first realize that
Nelson's father had been a body builder?

"I realized when
Nelson was a junior in high school, because I tried
to recruit him to San Jose State, but he didn't
come. So I've known about the family and all that.
His dad's a great inspiration to Nelson, and follows
him closely and a really good man. Really like his
dad."

A family of Vanderbilt people, we all
want to wish our best to your dad, and I hope
he's doing well.

"Yeah, he's
hanging in there. The MS has taken a toll on my
dad's body. But he's living in Nashville still. He's
out at the Bellevue area at the Meadows."

When Coach Bill McCartney was there, the best teams he had there, he was
able to get a pipeline out of California. Is
Denver, is that enough to be your base there,
or do you have to get back to California
somewhere else?

"No, we recruit
Colorado hard, but we recruit California extremely
hard. We have a lot of connections there from the
past and from our coaching staff now and from our
players on our team. The biggest group of players
on our team is from California. Then in our student
body there are about 15 to 20% of the students at
CU are from California. So we are working that
pipeline. Playing in the Pac-12 has even
increased that more."

Is there a favorite aspect to the new
facility that you're moving into that you've
enjoyed looking at?

"Oh, yeah, there
are a lot of favorite aspects. I think the players'
favorite aspect will be the players lounge. It's
7,000 square feet. We have Gatorade machines in
there and a little eating area, and a barber shop,
and a 15-seat theater, and we have a pool table
and Ping-Pong table. I think there are six or seven
different televisions in there that they can play all
different games and watch all different things. It's
a place away from home that they'll relax and hang
out in. So I'm really excited about that. There are
tons of other features.

"One of the cool things for a football coach
is for preparing a team and keeping a team moving
in the right direction during the off-season and
during the season. Our weight room is about
12,000 square feet, but it connects right to our
indoor. In our indoor you can open up the glass. It
has a six-lane track around it. You have a full
indoor and an 85-foot ceiling, so that turns into the
whole weight room, and the whole ability to keep
evolving our program. So I'm excited about that
feature."

How many times have you been able
to sit them down and say back in my day our
facilities were --

"I haven't said that
to them that much. All I tell them as we walked
up -- I walked to school back and forth in the snow
in a hundred degree weather every day
barefooted. That's what I tell them."

What is the plan in Colorado? Is it
like a one-year plan or two-year plan to not just
be able to play on the field but to actually start
winning?

"I expect us to win
this year. I really do. I think we're right there, and
definitely could have won a few last year and didn't
do it. I feel like our team has matured to that spot.
Being a junior sophomore team, they've been
there. The next year they'll probably have the
biggest junior-senior class they've had, and one of
the biggest in the history of the school. That's how you develop a program. You
have to build it and develop it. We'll be able to
red-shirt more kids the next year, and we just keep
the cycle going to develop. So I see us being able
to win a lot of the close games this year, and do
better the next year."

Where are you at with the CSU
series? I know they'd like to get this thing
home and home.

"Well, the CSU
series, the way I understand it ends in '20. Then I
don't know when it's going to go back together,
because I know we scheduled Air Force which
everybody wanted in the state to do. With us
playing nine conference games, which is a great
thing because I think all the major conferences
should play nine and play a championship, period,
it limits the amount of teams we can play out of
conference. If you played eight, you could do that
more.

"So we're a little bit stuck in the scheduling
there on that. But I don't know when it will
kickback again, but I know it goes to '20. I'm
worried about our first game, our second game. I
think about the CSU game every day since we lost
last year, so that's going to be a fun game for all of
us."

Do the players love going to Broncos'
Stadium?

"Yeah, the players
do like playing in Denver. I think both sets of fans
like it, but I think both sets of fans would rather
have it on their home field, I think. But our players
really love playing in the Broncos' Stadium, and I'm
pretty sure CSU's players do too."

Is it more important to you to seal
off a big win against one of the high-profile
members of the conference, or is it just
improving your overall win total is against
smaller teams or less prominent?

"Both. We want to
do both. We want to keep improving our record,
and we want to beat everybody we play. There
are so many good football teams. I think it's a
great conference and we'll have opportunities to do
that, week-in and week-out, beat some really good
teams."

Do you sense that your team has
accomplished what they think they earned last
year?

"Yeah, I think all
teams are confident this time of the year. You are.
Everybody's healthy. You're excited. But I think
with our team maturing, going from teenagers to
20-year-olds, going from can we compete with
these guys, knowing they can't compete with them,
now they want to. They've got the feeling, hey,
can they beat us?

"We can beat everybody now is the way
they feel. I've had a lot of conversations with
kids -- the kids coming up to me and talking about
it. Seeing their work ethic, and hearing the things
they're saying when they're running and working
out, and the way they're pushing themselves. It's a
whole different level of accountability. When you
have that rise in accountability, they feel the
standards are have risen, and I see that."

When you came on the job, the Pac-
12 South wasn't as difficult. What is your take
on that? Because you've got to beat some
dramatically good football teams?

"Right. This south
division is no doubt about it has gotten better and
better. There are a lot of good players and a lot of
good coaches. So when you do accomplish some
things in that south division, you really have made
a hugely, not just a little leap, a huge leap. I think
that's a big measuring stick for us."

You mentioned not having any bye
weeks, and you get USC on a Friday in
November. How does that change your
preparation on a short week like that?

"On a short week
thank goodness we don't have to travel. It makes
it harder when you're traveling on a short week.
We'll look at our team when we get to that spot
because I'll cut practice back as the season goes
along. On a short week that might be a week you
don't go in pads much if you're beat up a little bit.
You just look at your team and evaluate it on
Monday, get with a trainer, get with the guys, see
where you fit, kind of watch their vibe and you'll
have to make that call. If you decided it right now,
you might have a situation that's not the same at
that time. But definitely you're a day shorter in
practice, so you'll have one less practice and one
less pad type situation."

With Gary [Andersen] taking the job at Oregon
State, kind of a Mountain West/WAC, you're
seeing a lot of familiar faces?

"Yeah, Sonny's an
excellent coach. Gary's an excellent coach. They
did a great job in the WAC, and I think they're both
excellent coaches. We see each other Media
Days there. And Sonny and I, his dad was a
coach, my dad was a coach, so there are a lot of
connections there. Gary, I really respect Gary and
what he does. He's an excellent football coach."

Surprised you've all landed in the
Pac-12?

"Yeah, I guess so.
It's kind of funny, it really is. It's good seeing them,
but we both definitely on every Saturday we play
each other, we want to beat each other. But I think
we all respect each other well."

The couple years comparison now
that you've been in the Pac-12, the WAC was a
decent league. Utah State got better. But what
is the biggest difference between
WAC/Mountain West and Pac-12 that you've
seen?

"I think the biggest
difference is the Pac-12 each week on both sides
is really a battle. We play in the Pac-12 south,
everybody knows. Well, two of the teams that
cross over to play us are Stanford and Oregon.
So seven of the nine teams we play next year right
now going into the season are ranked in the top
25. I think four of them are in the top 12.
So it's that caliber you play week-in and
week-out. There is truly not even a breather. You
can hardly breathe. You've got to keep pushing.
But that's exciting to me. It's exciting to our
coaches and our players. We came here to play
against the best and beat the best, so that's what
we plan on doing."

One other question on the schedule.
Two years ago you had that game in Fresno [State]
that washed out. Did that hit the department
hard? You lost a game there.

"Yeah, we made up
that game with Charleston Southern, but you had
to pay -- it did hit a little bit. And then the Nichols
State game was a way to add more revenue too."

Addison Gillam had some injuries
last year. How do you see his performance this
year? Do you plan to keep him middle
linebacker so he can get back to the first year
he had with the program?

"Yes, Addison did
get sick last year. He got hurt last year. It was
kind of like a perfect storm for him. He's had a
really good summer, gained his weight back, got
the smile back on his face, stayed healthy. He'll
have a better year than he did as a freshman. He'll
be, I think, a Pac-12 performer. I really do think
he's that type of guy. So I'm excited about seeing
him back on the field, so I would say Addison is
back."

It was really interesting to talk to
Stephane [Nembot]. He talked about one of the hardest
things for him to learn coming to college
football was the playbook and things like that.
Can you talk about what it was like working
with him and getting him up to speed?

"Yeah, Stephane
learning the playbook and everything, he's an
amazing young man. All he's had to do and
overcome to excel in college, excel on the football
field. He's truly an example of improving and
working hard every day. Communication and
understanding the terminology in football, it's like a
whole new language. He knows 13, I would say
he knows 14 languages now. Just learning all of
that and watching him grow and how hard he's
worked. The first year he was there, he would say
I'm playing football to get my education.
The second year about the second game
he came to me and I could see a whole new look
in his eyes. He loved playing football. He said I
can excel at this. So he kept improving last year.
Then this year you're going to look out there and
see a beast. He'll play for a while in the NFL and
then he'll go there with his degree and go back and
help Cameroon and be a success. He's an
amazing story.

"I think one of the things that college
football is all about is how much he's improved and
what he's done with his life."

You lost Josh [Tupou] on defense. How are
you going to make up for that personnel-wise,
scheme-wise?

"Right. Losing
Josh is tough. He's a good football player. But
one good thing for us is we sign quite a few guys in
our signing class. Three of them are junior college
linemen that were coming in. Then we red-shirted
some linemen last year, and we have Justin Solis
and Eddy Lopez who played last year.

"So I feel good about all of those guys
being able to play and improve. If we wouldn't
have gotten the junior college guys and all that
type of stuff, we'd be in a little bit more of a hurt.
But Josh is a good player. We hate to have him
not out there. But I feel like those other guys will
be able to take up some slack."

How important is it to your season
to have the kind of improvement on defense
that you had on offense last year?

"Right. I think that
is the key. I really do. I think the way we improve
on defense this year, I don't know if we can jump
from there to 37th. But if we can jump and stop
teams in the scoring defense, be able to, when we
get ahead, keep the lead and not just give up big
plays, that our improvement will be the difference
in our team this year. That to me, you're exactly
right. We need -- national statistics, we need to
improve our scoring defense. In the other area
that we can drastically help our team, and I believe
we can, and it comes on defense, we didn't cause
enough turnovers last year. And you've heard me
talk about that a lot. But now that we're bigger
and stronger, we'll knock more balls loose. Now
that we have more experience on the back end,
they'll make more plays on the ball. So we had
three interceptions last year. We had a few called
back that were picked off that they were called
back. We had a ton that we could have caught. If
we could just move that from three to eight and go
from 15 interceptions to 10, we've changed our
record dramatically. So we've got to do that."

Schematically with a new
coordinator, are there going to be changes
you're looking for?

"Yes, there will be
some changes. We've gotten together and worked
on it. He has a great expertise. Then bringing in
Joe Tumpkin in that was a defensive coordinator at
Central Michigan. We have two defensive
coordinator type guys. It's going to be good.
Studying our league and looking at our league and
how our league plays. It's a little different. I'm
excited about what we're doing and how we're
going to do it."

I was talking to Coach Davie
yesterday at the Mountain West, and he's still
upset about a replay call in the Boise game that
he thought was wrong, and I think probably
was wrong. Oregon State game last year, I
don't remember the specifics but I know you
were upset at the end of the game. Are you
comfortable with the whole challenge,
procedure, replay, review? Are you
comfortable with the way that is now?

"Yeah, I am. I'm
comfortable with the way we're doing everything.
In all the games there are different situations that
happen, and you just hope certain situations don't
happen to you that cause the outcome of a game.
But I am pleased with how we're doing with
everything there within the Pac-12. Everybody's
working at it hard."

They're going to show the replays in
the stadiums as the officials are reviewing
them. Is that a good thing? How do you feel
about that?

"I think they're just
trying to be more transparent on that. I think it's a
good thing. I think it's a good idea on that. I think
it's just being more transparent in what you see
and how it's done."

You mentioned Stephane's now 343
pounds, so he's put on a good bit of muscle.

"Yes, he has."

How much weight has he gained?

"I think Stephane's
gained 15 to 18 pounds since the season was over
of really good weight. If he took his shirt off, he
doesn't have an ounce of fat. Kind of like Kyle [Ringo], not
an ounce of fat on him. So he's really improved
and done well. Our whole team is like that, really.
It's exciting to see all the numbers that we've
increased in the weight room and what we've
done. That is one of the reasons we practiced
spring practice early, so we have a lot of lifting
cycle. At that stage I thought that was extremely
important to do."

You mentioned some changes on
defense. Without giving away the playbook,
are we talking about more multiple, more
blitzing? What are you looking at specifically?

"We can't do the
exact same thing we were doing, so we've
changed it up. We'll be a little bit more multiple,
but you can't do too much either, because if you do
too much, the kids are just standing there and not
running to the football and reacting. So we've
adapted the playbook more to be able to stop a lot
of the Pac-12 offenses."

Have you noticed, I know a lot of
teams based off of what we see, were you
doing that a lot more last year?

"Yeah, we based a
nickel most of our games because you can't
substitute. Most of the time there is ten personnel,
I call it four wide receivers, eleven personnel guys,
a tight end that plays wide receiver and might go
back in the back field.
So to be able to match up with that, you
really have to stay in a nickel-type principle. Now
there are some teams we play that they're not
playing as much four-wide or eleven, and you
won't see as much nickel."

That is the Pac-12 where you're
going to see a crazy different line every week?

"Exactly. Most of
them are wide open, but you have a few that
aren't."

In the spring you talked about
defense, and you talked about just wanting to
get guys, get a feel for what everybody could
do with some of the concepts you were
thinking about and putting in. Now that there's
been so much time between that, is there going
to be a big learning curve for guys in fall
camp?

"No, there won't.
One of the reasons I decided to do spring practice
that way, and two, the NCAA new rule change
where we could meet with the kids two hours a
week after spring practice is over and in the
summer.

"So we've been doing that and showing
them the tape of the spring and prospects of what
we're going to do and film from other teams that
we've added in. So therefore we meet, go over it,
talk. Then our kids went out and did their
player-led practices and able to do all that.
Without that rule, I would have done it different.
But with that rule, we were able to take advantage
of the strength side we needed. And being able to
meet on all that, we kept it fresh in their minds and
kept going over it, so it was like it was there."

Jim Leavitt being who he is, how
has he made the transition on defense easier?

"He has great
expertise, number one. Number two, he has great
passion and energy; and number three, he's a
grinder. He works at it hard. So he's been with
our defensive staff meeting a lot, with me, and then
he's had those -- we were able to meet two hours a
week with the kids and he's been able to do that. I
think his overall energy and expertise and effort,
the combination of the whole has been exciting for
us."

Sometimes when you hear a guy
described as a grinder, that starts, over time,
that can wear players out.

"Right."

But he seems to have an opposite
affect on players because he's such an affable
guy. Do you see that?

"Yeah, I agree with
you. But the way the NCAA rules are, we can only
meet with them so much. So that doesn't affect
him. No, I'm just saying that he's not going to
leave any stone unturned. He's going to make
sure, if, for example, I learn a certain way and you
learn a certain way and we're not getting it, he's
going to find a way to make sure we're going to
figure it out. He's not just going to say well, he
doesn't get it.
Also, as a staff they're going everything
fine-tooth comb, really great attention to detail.
You can't do enough of that."

How nice is it for you to have a
coach like Coach Leavitt who had been a head
coach for so many years to lean on?

"It's good. Jim was
at Kansas State, and they helped turn that
program around. He started the program from
South Florida from scratch. So both of those he's
been kind of where we are right now. So when we
talk about different things, he can give examples.
So I listen intently to it. I like all of our stuff. I don't
want yes men on our staff. I want guys that bring
things up over and over and over, and they do,
then I have to decipher where we go from there.
So he brings another expertise that's been there
and done it."

You guys, I think your program has
more Sacramento kids than anybody in the
conference. How do they figure into
the team?

"All of those guys
are going to play a ton, and all of them are really
good athletes. We have a recruiter up there,
Klayton Adams that's from Sacramento. Played at
ARC, played at Boise, and coached at Sacramento
State and coached for me at San Jose. We had
recruited that area for a long time, and we have a
lot of connections. So we know a lot of coaches.
We know a lot of people. All of those young men
are really good players.
So we'll keep recruiting the Sacramento
area hard. There are some really good football
players up there. So that is part of our connection."

I live in Las Vegas, and it's amazing
how many kids are coming out of there. It has
been a hotbed. Your presence in Las Vegas, is
that appropriate?

"Yeah, we're
looking in there. But we're spending a little bit
more time in Arizona, California, Texas, and that
area because of proximity of the team for playing.
So it makes it a little bit easier to get them. But
there are definitely good players in Las Vegas.
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