Mike MacIntyre has given his Colorado football team a formula for winning on the road as the Buffs prepare for their first road game of the 2013 season this week at Oregon State and the start of Pac-12 Conference play.
Wide receiver Nelson Spruce told reporters Tuesday during the program's weekly press luncheon about MacIntyre's three-steps to winning on the road, but when asked what the three steps were, Spruce could remember only two of the three areas of emphasis.
“Harassing the quarterback and protecting ours and ball security is huge,” Spruce said as he attempted to recall the third.
Fortunately for Spruce and his teammates, MacIntyre still has a few days left this week to make sure his players know the mantra like second nature.
For his part, Spruce believes he and his teammates are prepared to handle the first road game well and continue to build on the momentum they had after a 2-0 start. That momentum might have been dulled somewhat from a three-week layoff created by a postponed game and a bye week.
“I think if we stick to what we've been doing on offense and defense we've been successful the past two weeks so we can continue and build on what we've done,” Spruce said. “I think we can be successful on the road.”
This is the first meeting with Oregon State since CU joined the Pac-12 Conference and the first meeting ever between the two programs in Corvallis, Ore. The Beavers have a 3-2 edge in the series, the first two games of which were played in Portland in the 1960s. These programs have met since the Buffs beat the Beavers in Boulder in 1988.
The Buffs obviously haven't enjoyed much success away from Folsom Field in recent years. One of the big accomplishments of the Jon Embree coaching era was putting an end to the program's record road losing streak at Utah in 2011, but the program is only 2-25 in true road games since the start of the 2008 season.
The Buffs only victory all season in 2012 came on the road at Washington State coming from behind in the fourth quarter to beat the Cougars. So there are plenty of players on the roster who have experienced a road win.
Perhaps even better is the fact that there also are plenty of players on the roster who have had nothing to do with the Buffs' road woes of the past.
“I think the primary aspect is they have to go into it with a mindset that it's not a trip,” MacIntyre said when asked how he approaches road games with his players. “It's a business. You always hear coaches say it's a business trip. Well, you're going there with one thing in mind and one thing only, win the football game. And you have to understand that. You can enjoy all the stuff and take it all in so to speak, but you have to always have the mindset and perspective you're going to win the football game at all odds.”
It took MacIntyre a season-and-a-half to win his first road game in his first head coaching job at San Jose State. The win came at Colorado State in 2011. After the first domino fell, he his teams were pretty effective on the road, going 6-4 on the road the remainder of his tenure with the Spartans.
MacIntyre actually has a five-game winning streak on the road going into the Oregon State game. CU meanwhile, has a three-game road-losing streak.
MacIntyre said teams take their cues from coaches. So first and foremost in his mind is making sure he and his assistants take a consistent and confident approach to playing on the road.
“I think it's just the maturity level of your team to be honest with you,” MacIntyre said. “Where we were before, every plane trip we took, the plane was delayed either an hour to five hours – it was crazy. I've never seen anything like it – and we won every single plane trip. I don't know how much it's the travel. It's the mindset of your kids and mindset of our coaches.
“Us as coaches, always take the mindset, ‘We're not going to get ruffled. We're not going to get upset about being somewhere. We're not going to get upset if the food is cold. We're just going to stay focused at what the main thing at hand is.' We set the tempo of that as coaches.”
Contact staff writer Kyle Ringo at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/kyleringo.