Ray Polk isn't blind to what has gone on at Colorado, or what the Buffaloes face in the coming weeks. Quite the opposite, in fact.
A senior safety, Polk has put his heart into the Colorado football program for five seasons, only to see the Buffs struggle mightily on game day.
Saturday appears to be another long day for CU (1-6, 1-3 Pac-12) as it visits No. 2 Oregon (7-0, 4-0). Colorado is allowing 42.6 points per game. Oregon averages 51.0 points per game and hasn't scored fewer than 42 in 10 straight games.
Yet, Polk is a Buffalo at heart and he is not about to concede defeat, no matter how long the odds appear to be.
"What chance do I actually think that we have?" Polk said. "I think if we can do this, if we can execute the game plan, I think we have a chance of beating these guys and I think that every week. I really do.
"(Oregon has) a complicated scheme, it's a great offense, they have great players. But it's just football. It's not rocket science. It's not like you're asking somebody to do something they've never done before. If we can come together as a team and we can do what these coaches are telling us, we can do some great things this year, but we have to be able to do that as players."
As CU has suffered through a miserable season, Buffs supporters have directed their anger in a lot of directions. As usual when teams struggle, fans want coaches to be fired. That's not the answer, Polk said.
"The coaches know what they're doing," Polk said.
The change, the Buffs say, needs to come from the players, and that change isn't going to happen quickly. That is, in part, because the Buffs are relying on so many players that still have just seven games of college experience. They don't feel over-matched physically, but don't always feel comfortable, either.
"We feel that we're overwhelmed sometimes, but we get through it as a team," freshman tight end Vincent Hobbs said. "All the freshmen I think we pick each other up. We're progressing to make a better stride with getting used to this game."
With youth comes mistakes, although it's not only the young players making mistakes. As a team, the Buffs need more precision and discipline, Polk said.
"There's been a lot of mistakes this year," Polk said. "We've made a lot as players, but we're learning a lot from it, at the same time. It's hard to watch sometimes and it's hard to be that person making mistakes. I made mistakes this past game and it's hard. You've just got to keep your head up and you've got to think, 'OK, every mistake is an opportunity to learn something new.'"
He talked about his high school team at Brophy Prep in Scottsdale, Ariz. He said it was a program that wasn't very good in the past, "but we were disciplined and we played assignment football and we won two state titles."
Becoming disciplined and mistake-free will happen, Polk said. He has been impressed with the talent level in the freshman class, but said the game is not going to come to them right away.
That's why Saturday's game looks like such a daunting task for the young Buffaloes. Even head coach Jon Embree laughed a bit when asked about the recipe for success against Oregon, knowing that even veteran, highly-regarded teams struggle against the Ducks.
"Everyone, I think, has the same plan," he said. "You want to go in there, you want to control the ball and eat the clock and you say all that, but it doesn't work out that way.
"You have to play error free on your side and then you have to force them into some mistakes and hopefully that's enough to be able to win."
Polk had hoped CU would already be at that point of playing error free ball. He came to Colorado in 2008, when the program was struggling to regain its past glory. Four years, two head coaches and 39 losses later, the Buffs are still trying to figure it out.
"I came here to take this program back to where it was, a dynasty," he said. "If there's one thing that I've learned, it just takes time. It really does."
With five games left in his career, Polk knows fans are unhappy. He and his teammates are unhappy, too. He also knows these next five games could be crucial in the development of a freshman class that he believes to be better than any freshman class he's been around -- including his own.
"This is such a talented freshman class that came in here," Polk said. "They're going to be football players, but we just need to help them along the way.
"It sucks because I know my college career is almost over. At the same time, you look toward the positives and you look toward maybe one day I can be sitting on the couch on Saturday and see the CU Buffaloes beat a top ranked team or be in a bowl game or be in the national championship. I want that."
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