August 08, 2015

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) The possibility of a bowl game stares the Colorado Buffaloes in the face each day at practice.

Those waving flags are hard to ignore.

Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre has taken to flying the logos from bowls with tie-ins to the Pac-12 Conference at the team's training complex, including that big one - the Rose Bowl.

It is MacIntyre's way of letting his squad know the postseason possibilities are out there, even for a team coming off a 2-10 season and predicted to finish last in the Pac-12 South.

His players are already buying in.

''We are a bowl team. I definitely believe that,'' senior tailback Christian Powell said Saturday at media day. ''If you look at last season, it's not like we were getting blown out every single game. It's not like everybody was putting up numbers on us and we couldn't do anything. We just had one or two mistakes here and there that generally cost us the game. Our focus all offseason has been to finish - just finish what we start.''

Colorado lost four games by five points or less in 2014. That's why MacIntyre is preaching persistence heading into this season. His team has been in those pressure-packed situations - such as losing to UCLA in double-overtime on Homecoming - and should now know what to do.

''Our theme is trusting each other in those situations,'' said MacIntyre, who has a 6-18 record in two seasons in Boulder after turning around the program at San Jose State. ''We will be in a lot of close games again. We'll come out on top in a lot more close games.

''I expect us to be good. I really do. I see it out on the field, and see it in their eyes, in their work ethic.''

And in their talk about bowl possibilities. They're not shying away from such assertions, even planning for the possibility.

''They say, `Coach, what's our schedule for Christmas for a bowl game?' They haven't asked me that before,'' said MacIntyre, whose team opens the season Sept. 3 in Hawaii. ''I can talk about it with this team because they believe it. It's not something I throw out there. That's what they see.

''Now we have to go do it.''

The players are holding each other accountable as well. Say, for instance, someone leaves a towel on the floor. Well, something will be said. Same with not properly stacking their dinner dishes in the dining hall.

''That's part of caring about all the details,'' MacIntyre explained. ''They're managing the room, where I don't have to do that anymore. When they're doing that, it shows a culture change.''

Other things from media day:

LEADERS OF THE PACK: Instead of having the same captains each week, MacIntyre organized a 12-player leadership council and will pick four on game day. The purpose of the committee is to give more players a voice in decisions. ''We're developing a more cohesive group,'' MacIntyre said.

BEEFED UP: Quite a few of the Buffaloes bulked up in the offseason. The team has a chart and a point system that grades workout performance, with a score of 20 considered ''strong'' and 25 or more an ''ultimate warrior.'' In 2014, the team had eight players reach at least the 25-point plateau. This season, it's around 40.

PASSING RECORDS: Colorado broke all sorts of offensive records last season behind the tandem of quarterback Sefo Liufau and receiver Nelson Spruce. Liufau set season school records in yards passing (3,200) and TD passes (28). Still, Liufau knows he needs to improve his decision-making after throwing 15 interceptions. ''Just be more smart with the ball,'' he said. Asked his goal this season, Liufau simply responded, ''To win.''

GETTING DEFENSIVE: The Buffaloes brought in Jim Leavitt to oversee a defense that surrendered 39 points a game in 2014. He helped Kansas State become a highly regarded defensive presence in the 1990s and coached the linebackers for the San Francisco 49ers.

FAMILIAR VOICE: Larry Zimmer will return to the broadcast booth for a 42nd and final season. Zimmer missed the final six games last season after a fall in his home. His final home game will be against Southern Cal on Nov. 13, which happens to be his 80th birthday. He's called 478 Colorado football games and 525 men's basketball games, the team said.

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