The Colorado Buffaloes didn't lose their season opener last week in the second quarter when they failed to score a touchdown despite having first-and-goal at the 2-yard line.
But it's definitely where the tide turned.
The Buffs plowed into the middle of the scrum three straight times and gained one yard against Colorado State. Offensive linemen missed blocks on two of the three plays and the Buffs settled for a field goal to take a 10-0 lead instead of going up by two touchdowns.
CU offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren is just like every other football loving soul out there. He second guesses offensive coordinators in such situations. It's easy to do already knowing the outcome.
"You can always look back and say, 'We should have done that,'" Lindgren said Wednesday. "But I think going into the game that was kind of the plan. We've talked about being physical down there and running our plays down there. I think it's a matter of will. It was a turning point one way or the other, but it would have been nice to have pounded that thing in. I think at the time that would have changed the momentum in our favor. We've just got to execute better."
The failed goal-to-go situation was one of the bigger disappointments for Lindgren and the CU offense in Week 1. It came on the heels of an offseason in which the Buffs spent a lot of time trying to improve their running game inside the red zone.
Lindgren said he also thought quarterback Sefo Liufau missed a few throws he generally makes in practice and he was disappointed CU didn't produce any explosive plays in the running game.
Liufau had two passes that covered more than 40 yards, including a first-quarter touchdown to wide receiver Nelson Spruce, but the longest run of the day also came from Liufau, who scrambled for a 13-yard gain.
Lindgren said the Buffs have to get more out of a running game in all situations, including those on the goal line. But it would be a big step forward if CU can begin to generate runs of 10 or more yards more often.
"We had a lot of runs that were 4, 5, 6 yards but we've got to block better on the second level and we've got to get some blocks down field and the running backs have to make some runs and make some people miss," Lindgren said.
Coach Mike MacIntyre said the Buffs had to get away from the running game in the second half when they fell behind. Otherwise he thought CU was on pace for a 200-yard day. He said there are certainly areas for improvement in the running game, but he is happy with the effort his running backs are giving.
"I didn't see anybody tiptoeing at all," MacIntyre said.
Lindgren said there were some positives to take away from the opener such as not committing any turnovers and the Buffs playing as well as they did to start the game. Now he wants to see improvement against UMass on Saturday in a game in which the Buffs are favored by as many points as they scored in the opener — 17.
Liufau was hard on himself this week when discussing his first start in a season opener. He took over as the starter in the middle of last season. He completed 24 of 39 throws for 241 yards, but most of his production came in the first half. He was ineffective when put in predictable passing situations later in the game.
His biggest frustration mirrored Lindgren's. He thought the Buffs didn't score enough.
"I think it just comes down to finishing drives because looking back at the film, we moved the ball up and down the field in our opinion," Liufau said. "It's just the fact that we couldn't punch the ball in the end zone or even get field goals. That's just what it comes down to, putting points on the board."
CU fans have been waiting to see Diego Gonzalez's powerful leg in a game for more than year. He redshirted last season and finally received an opportunity to kick off in the Buffs' season opener.
Gonzalez handled the last kickoff of the night for the Buffs, but he didn't hit the ball well and it proved to be the only CU kickoff that didn't travel into the end zone. CSU fielded it at the 1-yard line and returned it 43 yards to start its drive near midfield.
"He didn't kick it as good as we'd like," MacIntyre said. "So we'll give him another chance down the road."
Senior Will Oliver handled the other three kickoffs for CU in the game. Two went for touchbacks.
Safety Evan White was one of three true freshmen who played in the opener for the Buffs and MacIntyre liked what he saw. He said it's fair to compare White now with sophomore safety Tedric Thompson and where he was at this time last year.
"He can really run and hit and is athletic," MacIntyre said of White. "It's just so hard to play back there real early. To me, that and quarterback are the hardest places to play early."
MacIntyre had this to say this week on several pass interference penalties called on the Buffs in the opener. One second-quarter penalty on cornerback Ken Crawley was deemed a bad call by the television crew doing the game for Fox Sports 1 as well as Mike Pereira, former NFL vice president of officiating. "They've got that new rule that if Superman can catch the ball, then it's catchable," MacIntyre said. "That's tough. I think they have to keep looking at that to me. I mean that's the way they talk about it. So, that's interesting."