Three years into his tenure, Colorado head football coach Mike MacIntyre has yet to find success, in terms of wins and losses.

The Buffaloes are just 10-27 under MacIntyre, with a dismal 2-25 mark in the Pac-12 Conference.

Where MacIntyre has found success, however, is in the attitude change within the program.

"My freshman year it was really tough," said quarterback Sefo Liufau, who began his career in Boulder in 2013, along with MacIntyre. "A lot of guys didn't really believe that we could go out there and play with teams. They just kind of saw the logo on the helmet (of the opponent) and I feel like they just kind of gave up then and there. A lot of people of people were all about themselves.

Colorado’s Phillip Lindsay is one of several running backs who could get carries this season.
Colorado's Phillip Lindsay is one of several running backs who could get carries this season. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

"Now it's more of a team that's basing itself on the team and not just on the individual. We're playing more for each other. This senior class, we've been through a lot and we ultimately just want to leave the university better than we found it and we want to go out on top and go out with a lot of wins under our belt."

CU opens preseason camp on Thursday, kicking off MacIntyre's fourth season. From the time he arrived, he knew a culture change needed to happen, but as the Buffs look to snap a 10-year string of losing seasons, he believes they are ready to find success on the field.

"They've gone though everything, they always hear all the negatives, but they can see themselves getting better," MacIntyre said. "They can see the work ethic, they can see the commitment. It's not just one or two guys that have a chip on their shoulder; all 118 do.


"The good thing about it, now we've got experience and there's some really good players that have that. To me, that's a key to success. I don't have to really motivate them and inspire them anymore. I will, but they'll stand up and do it themselves. When they're all bought in that way, it's a lot easier to have them ready to go."

In four weeks, the Buffs need to be ready to go, as they face rival Colorado State on Sept. 2 in the opener. Liufau, MacIntyre and many other Buffs hope that's the start of what could be a turnaround season.

"We respect our opponents; every team in the Pac-12 is good," Liufau said. "But, we also respect ourselves now and know that we can go out there and win and get the job done."

This is a pivotal camp for the Buffs to get the job done, and with that, here's a look at some of the top battles and players to watch this month.

Key position battles to watch

1. Offensive line: Jeromy Irwin is locked in as the starting left tackle, but the other four spots are up for grabs. This was CU's main area of weakness last year and it has to become a strength.

2. Inside linebacker: If Rick Gamboa, Addison Gillam, Drew Lewis and Kenneth Olugbode are all healthy, it will be fun to watch them battle for two starting spots.

3. Running back: The Buffs have four players — Michael Adkins II, Beau Bisharat, Donovan Lee, Phillip Lindsay — with great potential, but can one emerge as the lead runner?

4. Wide receiver: With Nelson Spruce gone to the NFL, there's competition for the No. 1 job. Shay Fields, Devin Ross and Juwann Winfree appear to be the three favorites.

5. Nickelback and cornerback: Last year, Chidobe Awuzie was exceptional at nickel, but he could move to corner. If he stays at nickel, the competition to watch is at corner, with Isaiah Oliver, Ahkello Witherspoon, Nick Fisher and the incoming freshmen. If Awuzie moves to corner, Fisher and Afolabi Laguda will contend for the top spot at nickel.

Key players to watch

1. QB Sefo Liufau: He is, without question, the most important player to CU this season. He's the most experienced QB in the Pac-12 and there's virtually no experience behind him on the roster. Liufau needs to have a great camp.

2. DT Josh Tupou: After a one-year suspension from the team and school, he's back, and big things are expected. He was CU's best defensive lineman in 2014, and needs to get to that level, or better this season.

3. LT Jeromy Irwin: While he is set to regain his starting job, Irwin hasn't practiced since tearing his ACL on Sept.12. He's bigger and stronger, and needs to assert himself as a leader up front.

4. LB Addison Gillam: Like Irwin, he hasn't played or practiced since a knee injury on Sept. 12. He's had two consecutive injury-riddled seasons. He's looked good this offseason, but needs to have a great camp to restore some confidence that he can dominate like he did in 2013.

5. DBs Chidobe Awuzie and Tedric Thompson: They are arguably CU's two best players and this is an important camp for both of them as leaders. Their presence on the field and in the locker room will go a long way to setting up the Buffs for success in the secondary, and as a defense.

Brian Howell:, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.