No one figures to have more insight on how good the Colorado football team can be in 2014 than head coach Mike MacIntyre.

He watched the Buffs go through 15 practices, including four scrimmages, over the past five weeks seeing growth from some players and room for growth from virtually everyone on the roster. In his second year in Boulder, MacIntyre says the Buffs are well ahead of where they were when he took over the program but also have plenty of ground to cover in their climb to the top of the Pac-12 Conference.


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CU went 4-8 last season with just two wins against teams from the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Buffs haven't had a winning season since 2005 and haven't been to a bowl game since 2007.

The goal for the 2014 season is playing in a bowl game. Even if the coaches and players inside the program haven't necessarily said as much, it's written right there in the strategic plan for the athletic department put together by athletic director Rick George and his team.

So the question came at the end of the Buffs' final practice of spring drills Monday. Is this team more capable of winning games, particularly in the Pac-12 next season?

"I sure hope so," MacIntyre said. "I see that we've improved. We got to go do it on those Saturdays, but I definitely see that we've improved and we're getting better. When we add four or five starters who aren't out here all spring into the mix and we have a few more freshmen coming in and a couple of junior college guys, I think we'll be improved."

When MacIntyre completed spring ball in 2013 four months after being hired away from San Jose State, he had plenty of questions in his mind about how players would react to certain situations on game days. He has fewer of those kinds of questions now because he knows his players much better.

He learned over the course of his first season in Boulder that the Buffs didn't always go into games believing they could win and he worked to instill that confidence in them.

By the end of last season, he said he believed the 2013 Buffs had turned a corner in terms of believing in themselves. He continued to see an improved level of confidence this spring.

"I feel like their mindset, I feel like their attitude is a different mindset on playing Pac-12 teams," MacIntyre said. "I always tell them, 'You got to believe it before you achieve it.' So they've got to believe it in their own minds. I do see that and I do sense that."

MacIntyre and his staff will be able to continue to build on the confidence that has been established this spring throughout the summer. The NCAA approved a rule change that for the first time this year allows football coaches to spend time with players during workouts and watching film in the summer months.

Summer workouts always had been "voluntary" in the past, but now they are mandatory under MacIntyre.

"We can be in the weight room with them," MacIntyre said. "We can be on the field with them when they're doing agilities and workouts and that type of thing, but no ball around. I think it's really good."

Players will continue to conduct player-run practices and 7-on-7 throwing sessions this summer without the coaches present. MacIntyre and his staff like to spend the final practice of each spring instructing players on what they would like them to focus on during those sessions. That happened Monday and MacIntyre said it went well.

He said giving players some directions for summer workouts and throwing sessions last season helped the Buffs to operate at a higher rate of efficiency when fall camp began, allowing for more reps and more effective practices in early August.

CU named six captains before the spring game and the team has leaders named for each position group. MacIntyre said all of that should lead to a productive summer and a team ready to jump right into it when practices resume in the fall.

"I think it went real well," he said. "I think we improved over the summer and when we came back, we weren't way behind. I think it was a big, big difference for us for last year."

Contact BuffZone.com Writer Kyle Ringo at ringok@dailycamera.com or on Twitter: @kyleringo.