CU coach Mike MacIntyre coaches his first game for Buffs.
CU coach Mike MacIntyre coaches his first game for Buffs. ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )
DENVER -- Connor Wood lined up behind center Gus Handler, took the snap, knelt down and flipped the ball to the official.

With that, the Colorado Buffaloes began a celebration that was a long time coming. That was the first time in nearly two years that CU had a chance to line up in what is commonly called the "Victory formation."

Then the Buffs did something else they hadn't done in nearly two years. They walked to the southend zone and, along with thousands of fellow students, sang the CU fight song after a win in their home state.

"It feels good to see your student body out there cheering for you and then going over and seeing your family," senior safety Parker Orms said.

For a team that went 1-11 a year ago, Sunday's convincing 41-27 win against Colorado State was a welcomed sight.

It wasn't just the final result -- and the subsequent celebrations -- that made this one different, though. From start to finish, everything about Sunday's win signaled that this is a much different team than the one that took the field in 2012.

"I give the credit to our coaching staff," quarterback Connor Wood said. "To see what they can do with a 1-11 football team from last year and in eight months transform it to a team that you saw today -- it wasn't all perfect and we have a lot of stuff to clean up, but I tell you, we were organized."

Organization is a word the Buffs have used a lot since head coach Mike MacIntyre was hired in December.


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Players have talked numerous times about the great detail that goes into practices and the organized manner in which things are done now.

Former coach Jon Embree did his best to turn the CU program around, but, as everyone knows, it didn't go well. The Buffs were 4-21 under Embree. They also folded a lot of times and looked disoriented on game days more often than not.

Sunday was just the first game of the MacIntyre era, so it's way too early to declare that what we saw against CSU is what we'll see every week. But, it certainly was a great start and a sign that things have changed.

"The coaches prepared us really well for this game and it showed out there," Orms said.

Wood, who had a deer-in-the-headlights look every time he got on the field last year, played with the poise of a veteran quarterback. He completed 33 of his 46 passes for 400 yards and three touchdowns and never got rattled.

He wasn't the only one. The offensive line kept the Rams away from Wood and did a solid job in opening up holes for the running backs. The defense, which was torched repeatedly in 2012, rose to the occasion several times to shut down the Rams.

CU also didn't buckle when it very well could have.

Two big plays on special teams allowed CSU to turn a 10-point CU cushion into a one-point CSU lead in the third quarter.

That happened the Buffs a couple of times last year, too -- against the Rams and Sacramento State -- and they folded and lost both games.

This time, the Buffs responded with 10 straight points to retake the lead for good.

"We knew adversity was going to hit and it definitely hit and we didn't flinch," Wood said.

For the past eight or nine months, the Buffs have worked on repairing their psyche. The coaches have told them they believe in them. The players have bought in. To actually go out on the field and do what they've been told they can do, however, validates everything they've done during that time.

"I think it does," Wood said. "It's always good to talk stuff, but to actually prove it on the field is a completely other thing."

At the same time, Wood and his teammates know this is just one game. They have 11 more coming up, and many of them will be tougher than this one.

For at least one night, however, the Buffs got to be the team they spent the offseason trying to become.

Contact staff writer

Brian Howell

at howellb@dailycamera.com

or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.