From Day One of his tenure as head coach at Colorado, Jon Embree has talked about building a program where players live and die for one another and play that way on Saturdays.

Embree understood that even with the strong recruiting abilities of the staff he assembled, it would be awhile before CU would be able to compete for the very best recruits. After all the Buffs hadn't had a winning season in five years -- now six -- and the best talent doesn't just start flowing into a program with that kind of track record.

"We won't have the better players, so we have to be the better team," Embree says.

The 1-3 Buffs are coming off a dramatic come-from-behind win at Washington State a week ago. It was one of only a few times since Embree took over the Buffs have hung together through four quarters of football just as he envisioned.

"I thought last week our guys never blinked," Embree said. "They did everything we asked them to do, and the resolve they had -- I talked about that last Tuesday about the resolve of this team. I can't put my finger on it, but there is just something about this group of guys that they really do believe and they really are trying to do it."

Embree expects to see it more as the young players he has recruited begin to grow up and he will need to see it more if the Buffs are going to give themselves any realistic shot at winning through much of the final two months of the season. Beginning Saturday at Folsom Field against UCLA (4:07 p.m. Pac-12 Network), the Buffs can expect to be outmatched in terms of pure talent in almost every remaining game on the schedule.

The Buffs face a 3-1 UCLA team coming off its first loss last week at home to Oregon State. The Bruins are loaded with weapons on offense but driven by defense.

"UCLA, it's about their defense, their defense creates a lot of opportunities for their offense," Embree said. "So our offense has to do a good job of converting third downs and when we get opportunities to get points, you are getting touchdowns not field goals."

The Colorado offense led by quarterback Jordan Webb came through with its best 15 minutes of football so far this season in the fourth quarter last week, scoring three touchdowns and racking up more than 250 yards of total offense, including two plays of 70 yards or more.

The Buffs have gone entire games in recent years without that kind of offensive production.

Doing it against perennial Pac-12 North Division doormat Washington State is one thing, but moving the ball and scoring points against the Bruins would mark another step forward.

There figures to be pressure on the CU offense to play at a high level once again because the defense continues to give up big plays and a lot of points. Each of the past three opponents has scored at least 30 points against the Buffs.

CU, which is using a lot of freshmen and sophomores on defense, is last in the Pac-12 in scoring defense and next to last in total defense.

They face a UCLA offense led by redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley, a dual-threat playmaker who is second in the conference in total offense.

Hundley has a slew of experienced playmakers to distribute the ball to, including the conference's leading rusher in tailback Johnathan Franklin, who is averaging nearly 8 yards a carry and 147 yards per game.

In the passing game, CU has to account for speedy wide receiver Shaq Evans and tight end Joseph Fauria, the nephew of former CU tight end Christian Fauria.

The Bruins lead the league in total offense, gaining 577 yards per game, despite being last in the league in third-down conversions. That means they're making a lot of big plays, which doesn't bode well for a CU defense that has surrendered 25 plays of 20 yards or more and nine plays of 35 yards or more in just four games.

UCLA looks like the better team. The challenge for Colorado, once again, is playing better as a team.

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