Outside of the Colorado campus, not much is expected of the Buffaloes' football team. Youth and inexperience are the main reasons for that.
While the Buffs are a little greener than they were a year ago, they do have one advantage over the 2011 squad: a more cohesive coaching staff.
Head coach Jon Embree is entering his second season with the same group of assistants he had a year ago.
"I think that's big," said linebackers coach Brian Cabral, who is entering his 24th year on CU's staff. "It's very big. We know exactly what the expectations are. We know exactly how each other operates."
That all starts at the top.
A year ago, Embree was entering his first season as a head coach. He had been a coach for 18 years, but never as the head man. Although it's only been a year, he is clearly further along in his job.
"I feel like I'm more patient," he said. "There's so many things that you're trying to do and so many things that you want to get accomplished and you realize you can't get it all done in one year. That hits you in the face about once a month. I'm more patient, and obviously more comfortable with our team and our players, knowing what I expect of them and how I react to certain things."
Senior linebacker Doug Rippy said the known expectation has led to more intensity in practice. Rippy also said that, just one year in, he has grown close to Embree.
"I probably would never tell coach Embree this, but I love him like he's my father," Rippy said. "Just to be able to have a relationship with him this past year, it's been a great thing."
It's not just Rippy, either. He said Embree has had an impact on the entire team.
"One thing I can say about coach Embree is he pushes us," Rippy said. "No matter how he's got to do it, he's going to get the best out of you."
It appears Embree and his coaches have gotten the best out of each other, too. As a group, they are all on board with the mission of the program, and that has made working together an easier task.
"The thing that I've always liked about this staff was the fact that there's former Buffs, there's coaches that have been a part of successful Colorado teams," Cabral said. "We understand how it got that way. That's probably even better, not just are we the same staff, but we know what we're working for, we know how it's been done and know what the expectations are."
While they all had some of that understanding last year, there were clearly some kinks to work out as they worked together as a group for the first time. Those kinks are gone, for the most part, now.
"The continuity of the staff I always felt was a very big deal," said J.D. Brookhart, special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. "It makes a big difference, just getting used to each other, anticipating things, getting along. Those expectations are set and we know what to expect from each other right now. That always helps because I think there are things that can build frustrations and now we know where each other is coming from and that makes a lot of difference.
"The biggest difference (among the staff) is there's less frustration because the standard's been set."
It's tough to measure how much the frustration and staff growing pains impacted CU's 2011 season, which concluded with a 3-10 record. Brookhart, however, said that eliminating those can only help the Buffs moving forward.
"All the pieces add up and that's certainly part of growing the program is the staff continuity," he said. "I anticipate that to be way different (this season)."
As the Buffs prepare to open the season on Saturday against Colorado State, they know plenty of inexperience will be on display on the field. They also know that, as coaches, that isn't an excuse anymore.
"We're all a year better," Cabral said.
Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.