The Colorado football team has been beaten up on the football field the past two weeks in Pac-12 Conference losses to Oregon State and Oregon, but the Buffs haven't been beaten down in meetings or on the practice fields by their coaches.

It's not that Mike MacIntyre and his staff don't point out mistakes and blown assignments. They do -- relentlessly. In fact, this coaching staff is more exacting and detail-oriented than any to coach in Boulder in years. But they handle their business with a "firm, but positive" mantra that players appreciate, especially at times like these when the last victory celebration the team enjoyed was more than a month ago.

"I've had the best of both worlds," said wide receiver Paul Richardson, who is playing for his third coaching staff in Boulder. "My first coaching staff was very hands off. The second coaching staff was very hands on. The coaching staff we have currently, they let us do our thing. They let us make mistakes but then they make corrections within letting us be comfortable. I think that has been why we are successful when we are."

The Buffs (2-2 overall, 0-2 Pac-12) are on the road Saturday at Arizona State trying to snap a 10-game losing streak against Pac-12 opponents. The last conference victory the program enjoyed came more than a year ago on the road at Washington State and most of the losses have been lopsided affairs.


Once again this week, the Buffs must find ways to tackle and contain one of the most explosive offenses in the nation while trying to keep up with it when they have the ball. Arizona State (3-2, 1-1) is battled tested to be sure, having played Wisconsin, USC, Stanford and Notre Dame in consecutive games.

Coach Todd Graham has emerged from that stretch with his own mantra, telling his team it can still win the Pac-12 South and the conference title by winning the rest of its games.

Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre talks to Christian Powell during the Buffs’ last win -- against Central Arkansas -- in September.
Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre talks to Christian Powell during the Buffs' last win -- against Central Arkansas -- in September. ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )

Graham has two of the elite offensive playmakers in the conference at his disposal in quarterback Taylor Kelly, who is second in the Pac-12 in total offense and running back Marion Grice, who leads the nation in scoring, averaging more than two touchdowns per game. Graham also has last season's Defensive Player of the Year in the conference in defensive tackle Will Sutton, who hasn't been the same wrecking ball this season that he was a year ago.

Colorado quarterback Connor Wood is hoping not to see much of Sutton. Wood has been a target for criticism the past two weeks after completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes in both games, throwing a total of four interceptions and converting on just two of 30 third-down opportunities.

MacIntyre has been patient with Wood because the junior has limited experience with five college starts under his belt. MacIntyre also has had to be patient with Wood to some degree because until this week he hasn't had an alternative quarterback with any experience.

If Wood struggles again against the Sun Devils, it's possible coaches could turn to 2012 starter Jordan Webb, who has been cleared to play after a torn ACL in his knee in the spring and serving a one-game suspension for his arrest for assault in the spring.

Webb has played in 31 games in his career, throwing for 4,513 yards with 28 touchdowns but also 28 interceptions.

But considering MacIntyre's generally positive way of handling players, it still might be premature to see Webb on the field Saturday.

"I'm a firm believer that, especially when you're dealing with young people, if you're always a roller coaster then your team's always going to be a roller coaster," MacIntyre said this week. "You need to be as consistent as you can. Now, I'm not perfect at all times. I do get upset sometimes. I do get mad there's no doubt about that but I think you're never going to achieve any goal if you just choose negativity, mood swings and that type of thing. You need to be positive and firm and be who you are."

Regardless of who is under center Saturday for the Buffs, they must score more than the 16.5 points they are averaging in Pac-12 play. Arizona is tied for 16th in the nation averaging more than 42 points a game. Given the opponents the Sun Devils have faced, the production is impressive.

Running game production would take pressure off Wood and the faltering CU passing game, and the Sun Devils have been susceptible to the run, allowing 183 yards a game on the ground and nine rushing touchdowns.

"We've got to harass their quarterback, protect ours, get the ball out and make plays on special teams, and just have intense focus throughout the game," defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe said. "I feel like if we can complete all four of those things this Saturday, we can get a win."

Contact staff writer Kyle Ringo at or