The record might be perfect, but the Colorado football team is far from it three games into the season.

On Wednesday, the Buffaloes (3-0) returned to the practice field for the first time since their 45-14 win against New Hampshire on Saturday, and while they have a bye this week, they aren't basking in the glow of their start.

Pac-12 Conference play begins on Sept. 28, when UCLA (0-3) comes to Boulder, and head coach Mike MacIntyre said this week is all about getting better.

"It's a little bit on UCLA and a lot on us," he said of the practice agenda this week. "We have a lot of things (to work on). We went back over all three games and looked at the different things we weren't doing as well and we're trying to fix those. Some of them were assignment-oriented, some of them were technique-oriented, and working on all of that type of stuff."

One area that has particularly frustrated MacIntyre is punt returns. The Buffs were a mess on their returns against New Hampshire.

"It's the worst I've ever seen in my 29 years of coaching; it's the worst decision making," he said. "That's my fault. We'll make sure that gets corrected and we'll be much better at it, I promise you."

Sophomore Ronnie Blackmon has big play potential in that role, with 109 yards on 10 returns so far. He's already just the third CU player in the last eight years to hit 100 yards on for punt returns for an entire season — joining Isaiah Oliver and Jay MacIntyre, both in 2016.

However, he's also taken some dangerous risks and put the offense in difficult positions.


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In the season opener against Colorado State, Blackmon fielded three punts within five yards of the goal line.

Last week, Blackmon flirted with disaster.

He let one UNH punt roll before reaching down to pick it up a split second before two defenders tackled him. Later in the game, Blackmon let a punt hit around the 10-yard line, tried to pick it up on the roll and, after finally corralling the ball, ran into the end zone and barely got out to avoid the safety. He was tackled at the 1.

Senior Donovan Lee had one opportunity to return a punt against UNH, and didn't fare any better. He tried to catch a 60-yard punt as he was sprinting toward the goal line, bobbled it and was tackled for a 4-yard loss, pinning the CU offense at its own 5.

"They have to take team over individual and understand where they are," MacIntyre said. "I've taken it over and I'm working on it all week. That's one of our main goals for this (week)."

MacIntyre is hoping the message gets through, because Blackmon — the primary returner since last season — has talent.

"If they don't get it, there will be personnel changes, because you just can't do that," he said. "(Blackmon) has got to make better decisions. He can, and if he doesn't, we'll have to make a change."

Whether on special teams, offense or defense, MacIntyre said this is an important week for the Buffs to get better, because starting next week, there won't be any time off for a while.

"We need to make a big jump in this off week because we're not going to get another chance to do these type of things as hard as we need to do them when you play game after game after game for hopefully a lot (of weeks) in a row," MacIntyre said.

Preseason feel

During the past couple of years, CU has spent preseason camp practicing on the lower fields, near Boulder Creek, before moving up to Franklin Field during the season. This week, MacIntyre is bringing his team back to the lower fields.

"I thought we bonded really well during our preseason camp down here," he said. "We had this time here (during the bye) and I wanted to say this is our preseason practice for the Pac-12 and get back to that work mentality; that this week was going to be a work week, not a vacation week. They showed that today."

Notable

MacIntyre said guards Jake Moretti and Kary Kutsch, who both got their most extensive playing time of the season on Saturday "both played well." ... CU has jumped to big leads this season against Colorado State and New Hampshire and likely could have racked up more points, but MacIntyre said that's not in his nature. "I'm not going to run the score up on anybody," he said. "There's no call for that in sports, to me, whatsoever. All that matters is if you win the football games, period."

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