As well as the Colorado football team played last season, Drew Wilson knows that the Buffaloes have at least as much work to do, if not more, to keep it going.
The Buffaloes’ director of football strength and conditioning, Wilson played a pivotal role in CU’s resurgent 10-4 season last fall, but it was how the season ended that bothered him.
After a 10-2 regular season, the Buffs were routed by Washington, 41-10, in the Pac-12 title game and by Oklahoma State, 38-8, in the Valero Alamo Bowl
“I told the guys, ‘We got handled,’ and as a strength coach, you notice that right off the bat,” Wilson said. “They were bigger, they were stronger and they handled us. You could take getting beat if a team is better than you, but you can’t handle if a team is just physical dominating you and that’s where I felt, ‘Hey we still have work to do.’
“Not that I thought we were a finished project by any stretch of the imagination.”
That work is underway, as the Buffs are in the midst of their second offseason with Wilson, who was hired 13 months ago.
Year No. 1 went well for Wilson, he said, because the Buffs bought into his program and put in the work to get better.
“I’m glad to be a part of something that clicked at the right time,” he said. “Whatever part I played into it and my staff played into it, we’re very grateful, very blessed. A lot of the hard work was done before I got here. I helped do our part, what we needed to do.”
His second offseason is off to a good start, he said, because the buy-in is still there, despite the Buffs featuring a new set of seniors, as well as some new players.
“I tell them every day, ‘Player-driven teams are the most successful teams,'” Wilson said. “Coach-led teams, when it’s all the coaches’ rules, you can win, but it doesn’t last.
“You’re seeing the new guys step up and they’re feeling their way through, because it’s new for some of them.”
It’s not new for all of them, though, and it’s a dedicated group of returners, including safety Afolabi Laguda, linebacker Addison Gillam and quarterback Steven Montez that have not only stepped up as leaders, but have enjoyed a great offseason to this point, Wilson said.
When Wilson was hired, he knew the Buffs needed to get bigger and stronger, especially in the trenches.
They did, but not strong enough, as the final two games proved. And, with several key linemen having graduated, Wilson said the Buffs took the same mindset into this offseason.
So far, he’s been impressed with, among others, defensive linemen Frank Umu and Javier Edwards, and offensive linemen Aaron Haigler and Tim Lynott.
It helps that both lines are loaded with competition.
“The best will rise to the top,” Wilson said. “I can motivate, but competition will decide everything. I think that’s going to be a better motivational factor for all in the end.”
As for Wilson, his motivation comes from doing his part to make the Buffs even better this next season.
“The reality is we didn’t finish out the (2016) season like we should have or could have and we still have work to do,” he said.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.