Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy asked Colorado wide receiver Paul Richardson before Tuesday's practice why he hasn't been himself over the past two weeks in games.
Richardson caught four passes each in games against Colorado State and Ohio State for a total of 65 yards. He also dropped three passes and never really threatened those defenses.
Richardson didn't have an answer for Bieniemy at the start of practice, but by the end of the session he approached Bieniemy and told him he hasn't been focusing the way he needs to and he vowed to do better.
"I'm ready," Richardson said when asked about this week's matchup with Washington State at Folsom Field on Saturday. "It's another challenge that's laid before me and I'm going to knock it down."
Richardson said he has done his best to handle the expectations and pressure on him. He said he feels like he has to be the spark that gets the offense moving earlier in games. The Buffs have struggled with slow starts in each of their first four games.
The 19-year-old exploded for career highs of 11 catches for 284 yards and two touchdowns in an overtime loss to Cal three weeks ago.
Since then defenses have clamped down on him, challenging other players to beat them.
Richardson said both CSU and Ohio State used the same approach to slow him down. They had a cornerback play him tight at the line of scrimmage with safety help in back and a linebacker playing wide to take away short slants where he can catch and run.
"It's a lot of respect, but at the same time I have to be able to be that playmaker and that guy that goes out there and despite whatever the defense has out there, I've got to be able to make those plays," he said.
Richardson is averaging 18 yards per catch and is a threat to score from any point on the field once the ball is in his hands.
Coaches have been trying to put him in position to get more opportunities by moving him around in the offense to counter those moves by defenses.
They plan to continue using him in the slot and in other creative ways beginning this week against the Cougars, who are allowing 254 yards passing and rank 92nd nationally in pass defense.
"I disappeared for two weeks and my team needs me to step up, especially this week because, I mean, we're 1-3," Richardson said. "I've been doing well with the responsibility that I've taken in, but it's time for me to come out and have another breakout game."