In the immediate aftermath of Colorado's loss in the season opener last week to Colorado State, Mike MacIntyre was reluctant to detail what he thought went wrong. He wanted to review the film first.
The Buffs were back on the practice fields Monday morning after two off days. The weekend gave coaches a chance to dissect the problems and look ahead to this week's game at Massachusetts.
So what did MacIntyre learn from the 31-17 loss, in which his defense allowed 266 rushing yards to an offense with an offensive line that featured five players for most of the game who had never started before?
"We've got to run fit better and we've got to finish the game," MacIntyre said. "We dominated the game for about 65 percent of the game but didn't score enough and they dominated for about 45 percent, if you watched the game. So finish it off and shore up a few things. They made some good plays and we didn't make enough."
MacIntyre's math is a little fuzzy, but, unlike some in his fan base, he's not in panic mode. He said some of the mistakes and the way the Buffs failed to finish the game could be a product of having a young team. He said those things are correctable.
There were 41 players in uniform for the Buffs on Friday who hadn't played in a college game. Obviously not all of them played and not all of the problems could be blamed on youth alone, especially considering CSU's offensive line was every bit as inexperienced. But MacIntyre said there were some youth-related problems.
But the biggest disappointment might have been that the CU defense allowed the Rams to convert three crucial long, third-down plays after an offseason focused on improving on third downs and in the red zone.
"There was three third downs that we messed up on that kept drives going," MacIntyre said. "If we stop them on third downs, that never happens. It was a third-and-7, a third-and-10 and a third-and-8. We called certain things and we just didn't play them right. We're right there to do what we're supposed to do. We just didn't do what we're supposed to do on technique. That would have made a big difference in the football game either way."
The Buffs also spent a lot of time focusing on creating more turnovers during the offseason. One of the best defensive plays of the night was provided by redshirt freshman defensive end Derek McCartney who sacked CSU quarterback Garrett Grayson and forced a fumble the Buffs recovered. But middle linebacker Addison Gillam lamented the Buffs' inability to change the game by forcing more miscues.
"That is one of the biggest things about our defense is we want to get turnovers, get as many as possible," Gillam said. "We just didn't do it."
Gillam said the Buffs played well through the first half but started to make mistakes with technique and assignments in the second half. He said the team didn't respond well to losing the lead early in the fourth quarter when CSU capped a 12-play, 92-yard drive with a touchdown pass.
CSU scored 24 unanswered points in the second half, including 17 in the fourth quarter.
"Towards the end of the game, we stopped playing physical and didn't finish the game too strong," Gillam said. "We stopped playing physical and a few key areas fell apart in reads and assignments and they just capitalized on those mistakes really well.
"Guys were still working hard and pushing and everything, but I think that mental focus wasn't there. We got down on ourselves. I think the mental focus was the biggest thing. That is what fell apart more than our effort."
A reporter suggested to MacIntyre after Monday's practice that players had said 'physicality' was an issue against the CSU offense.
"Physicality? Who told you that?" MacIntyre said. "Physicality? I saw us just doing it wrong."
Now, it's on to the longest road trip on the mainland ever made by a CU football team. The Buffs have played a handful of games in Miami in the past, including the 1989 and 1990 Orange Bowl games that decided the national championship, but this week's game in Foxborough, Massachusetts, is slightly further.
The Buffs will depart on Thursday in order to get themselves acclimated to the time difference and give themselves a chance to visit the stadium before the game (1 p.m., no television). The game is being played in Gillette Stadium, home to the New England Patriots.
MacIntyre said he saw a UMass team with some talent and a lot of fight in its season-opening loss to Boston College over the weekend.
"It was six-nothing at halftime," MacIntyre said. "They played them tough and hard. Boston College kind of controlled the game but just had to kick a bunch of field goals early. So that shows credit to UMass and what they're doing. I thought they played extremely hard and I think they've got some guys who can make some plays."
The Buffs haven't won a game in the Eastern Time Zone since the Miracle in Michigan in 1994 when Michael Westbrook caught a Hail Mary pass from Kordell Stewart on the final play of the game to give the Buffs one of the most iconic wins in their history.
CU is 0-9 in games played in the east since that victory.
MacIntyre said the Buffs had no new significant injuries going into this week than they had prior to the opener.