Colorado co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini has been around football long enough to know there are days when things just don't go according to plan.
During last week's 31-20 loss to Southern California, the CU offense was shut down for the first time this season and the Buffaloes' first-year play-caller shouldered the blame.
"I did a terrible job," Chiaverini said Tuesday. "At the end of the day, I'm the play caller. I'll take the praise, I'll take the criticism. I know how this game works and when we don't play well, it's on me; when we play well it's on me. I have no problem saying I have to do a better job and I'll do a better job getting the ball to our kids and giving us a better plan."
CU (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) went into last week ranking third in the Pac-12 in scoring (37.8 points per game) and second in total offense (490.6 yards per game). The Trojans, however, had an answer for just about everything the Buffs threw at them.
"You always go into a game thinking you have a good plan until someone stops it, right?," Chiaverini said. "(Going forward), we look at what we did, we look at some tendencies, we'll change some things and we're still going to be aggressive. We have to go out there and we have to play better and we have to coach better and I have to do a better job calling plays, which I will."
As a savvy and frequent user of social media, Chiaverini is well aware of the good and bad of that platform, and he has obviously seen a lot of the bad since Saturday.
"Believe me, I've been praised, I've been criticized," he said. "I was a white wide receiver in college football and pro football, so I've been called every name in the book. It doesn't hurt my feelings when someone calls me a bad name or says I'm not very good. That doesn't hurt my feelings. I'm going to go out there and still do what I do. We'll be aggressive."
Chiaverini and the Buffs have perhaps an even tougher challenge this week at No. 15 Washington (5-2, 3-1), which has been one of the Pac-12's best defensive teams over the past few years.
"You have to love a challenge," he said. "That's why we do what we do. If you're scared, you're in the wrong business. You've got to have the mindset that you're going to compete and if you're going to be the best in the conference, you've got to beat the best and they've been one of the best since I've been here and they're still really, really, really good."
For most of this season, CU has been really good on offense, and Chiaverini is confident that he and the Buffs will have good games ahead.
"I'm aggressive by nature, but if we're getting stuffed and things aren't working, then we've got to look other ways and maybe try to run it or try to do some other things," he said. "It's not going to discourage me as a play caller. I'm going to be aggressive, I'm going to get the ball in our playmaker's hands and we'll see what happens on Saturday."
USC's defense did plenty to hurt the Buffs last week, but the Buffs did some damage to themselves. CU was flagged eight times for 81 yards, including four holding penalties against the offensive line.
"The penalties are very discouraging," head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "That's something we had talked about all week. We knew they were physical and different things. We didn't play as well as we'd like up front, for sure."
Through the first five games, CU had just five penalties negate an offensive gain, totaling 81 yards lost by the flags. Against USC, the Buffs had four penalties negate offensive gains totaling 31 yards - and two first downs.
"If you go into the game saying you're going to win the penalty battle, you're going to win the turnover battle and you're going to win the rushing battle, I think you've got a chance to win it, and we didn't," MacIntyre said. "We gave up too many big plays and too many negative plays that brought back plays of ours. We had penalties at the wrong time."
Montez said the loss to USC was "a reality check" for the Buffs, but the approach won't change going against the Huskies. "We're just going to focus on what we do," he said. "We're going to prepare like we always prepare and hopefully go in and play some of our best football." ... With senior Jase Franke out for the season with a torn ACL, MacIntyre said redshirt freshman Terrance Lang is likely to play more in the base rotation on the defensive line.