This was supposed to be one of the most electrifying offenses in Colorado football history.

Multiple receivers have 1,000-yard potential. There's been talk about weapons being candidates for the Heisman Trophy, Doak Walker Award and Biletnikoff Award. The line was supposed to be the best CU's had in years. The young quarterback directing it all has the talent to post a breakout year.

Maybe all that still happens, but a third of the way through the season, the Buffaloes (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) are nowhere near living up to the preseason hype on offense.

"We're disappointed, obviously, that we're not scoring as much as we need to," co-offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren said.

Four games in, the Buffs rank 11th in the Pac-12 in scoring (26.3 points per game) and 11th in yards (413.8 per game).

Of course, it doesn't help those numbers that CU just played one of the nation's top defenses in a 37-10 loss to Washington, but the Buffs were tied for 10th in scoring after a relatively soft non-conference slate.

Even California, projected to be the worst team in the conference, has been more proficient on offense. The Bears have a new coaching staff, new offensive scheme, a quarterback that came into the season with zero career passes, seven new starters, and a standout running back that's out for the season with an injury, yet average 2.5 more points per game than CU.


Advertisement

Asked if he's surprised about where the Buffs rank offensively at this point in the season, head coach Mike MacIntyre simply said, "I expect us to be better and we won't end up 11th. We'll end up somewhere higher than that. I hope it's higher than 10th, but we won't end up 11th."

MacIntyre was driving the hype train in the offseason, and knows this offense needs to get going if the Buffs are to be true contenders in the Pac-12 South.

As of now, this is a group that is severely lacking in consistency.

Against Washington, the Buffs were fantastic early, marching 75 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown on the opening drive. Quarterback Steven Montez completed all four of his passes on the drive, to three different receivers, while Phillip Lindsay ran hard and completed the drive with a 1-yard touchdown.

From that point on, however, it was a familiar look, with the Buffs having way too many possessions start strong and fizzle out.

In 52 offensive possessions this season, the Buffs have gone three-and-out just 11 times. Despite ranking so low in points and yards, they actually sit in the middle of the pack for first downs, suggesting they know how to move the chains.

"We had like 20 first downs (against Washington) and I felt like we were across the 50 a bunch of times," Lindgren said. "We just have to be able to finish drives."

Lindgren was pleased with how the Buffs moved the ball at times against the Huskies. Six of CU's 11 possessions on Saturday ended in Washington territory, but only two produced points.

So far this season, CU had had 13 possessions end in enemy territory without any points being scored.

"It seemed like we'd move the ball to about the 38 or 40 and then screw it up," MacIntyre said after the Washington game. "We couldn't get past that mark."

Big, explosive plays would help, but the Buffs haven't had many of those. CU and Utah are the only Pac-12 teams without an offensive play of 50-plus yards, and the Buffs rank last with only two plays of 40-plus yards.

CU's longest touchdown pass was a 31-yarder from Montez to Shay Fields against Colorado State in the opener.

There have been various reasons for drives stalling, including five turnovers. Of the six interceptions thrown by Montez this season, four have come in enemy territory - including two against Washington.

"I thought we did some good things (against Washington), but we also turned the ball over a lot and you can't do that if you want to win," Montez said.

It's unfair to point the finger solely at Montez, however. Sacks, penalties and a couple fumbles have been issues, as well, and it's fair to criticize play-calling at times.

"We had opportunities in my mind that we either missed the throw, we had dropped the pass, we missed the protection," Lindgren said of the Washington game. "Against a team like that you only get so many opportunities and you have to take advantage of every one that you get and we didn't capitalize on those, particularly in the first half."

For the Buffs to live up to their preseason billing, they need to start capitalizing on opportunities. That starts on Saturday, when they visit UCLA, which ranks 125th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 43.3 points per game.

"Everybody is pretty frustrated with where we're at right now," Lindgren said, "but I feel good about the group that we've got and the leadership that we have on offense and the staff that we've got. We'll go back to work and we have every opportunity to get it turned around."

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.