Colorado punter Alex Kinney was watching a movie recently when a line jumped out at him.
“It said, ‘You can’t worry about your last race or the next race; you just gotta do it right now,’” Kinney said.
As one of the veteran leaders of the CU football team, Kinney understands the importance of that principal.
Colorado (3-6, 1-5 Pac-12) comes into Saturday’s matchup against Stanford (4-4, 3-3) riding a five-game losing streak, but fighting to remain positive heading down the stretch.
“You’ve got to get back out there and keep doing it,” Kinney said. “(Head coach Mel) Tucker is a real big no-excuse guy, and I don’t have an excuse, either. It’s just every day we’ve got to come back out and try to get better. We’ve still got more games to play. Every day, just come on, keep working. We can’t give up.”
CU is still chasing that carrot of bowl eligibility and can get there by winning the last three games. But, given the Buffs’ recent history and current struggles, that’s hardly the focus at this point.
“We’re aware of (bowl eligibility still being possible), but I think that we’re still trying to take this one game at a time,” senior linebacker Nu’umotu Falo said. “That’s the focus how it should be. We’ve got to focus on what’s in front of us right now.”
What’s in front of the Buffs is not only Stanford, but the quest to get better.
A plethora of mistakes have prevented the Buffs from having another win or two on their record this season: dropped passes by receivers; passes missing the mark; untimely penalties; busted assignments leading to big plays for the opposition; missing key blocks; and field goals sailing wide left or right.
Those miscues aren’t constant, but they’ve occurred far too often.
“Football is the ultimate team sport and we have to have the discipline to do our jobs on a consistent basis,” Tucker said. “All of our coaches, all of our players understand that. Consistency in performance is how you become successful. Playing complimentary football and everyone doing their job at a high level on a consistent basis, on and off the field, will give us our best chance to be successful.”
Consistency in performance is one of the main differences between winning teams and losing teams. Gaining that consistency isn’t easy, though.
“I saw some very, very positive things from a lot of guys,” Tucker said of last weeks’ 31-14 loss to UCLA. “And we’re going to build on those, obviously. I also saw some things that need to be cleaned up. That’s why our practices, our meetings, everything that we do is so critically important. Culture is how you behave, how you live day to day. It’s a work in progress. But I’m really excited about the direction we’re going.”
To remain on the right path, the Buffs don’t necessarily need to win every game down the stretch and get to a bowl game, but they do need to continue buying into Tucker’s message. Even through a tough stretch, it appears the Buffs are still committed.
“Nobody’s confidence in the coaching staff has wavered at all,” senior Mikial Onu said. “Nobody’s confidence in each other has wavered at all.”
Kinney agreed, adding, “(Tucker) has done more than I expected. The coaches are unbelievable. I mean , everything’s going the right direction; obviously, maybe not the wins and losses right now, but he’s doing his job; he’s doing a good job.”
Still, the Buffs have to guard against human nature if they are to stop the losses from piling up.
“This is a really important week,” Onu said. “It’s really, really easy for guys to give up. Really easy for guys to get complacent and be like, ‘Our season’s over,’ but our season is not over. We have three winnable games coming up, but none more important than this week.”
Game at a glance
Matchup: Stanford Cardinal (4-4, 3-3 Pac-12) at Colorado Buffaloes (3-6, 1-5 Pac-12)
Kickoff: 1:10 p.m. MT
Where: Folsom Field in Boulder. Capacity: 50,183. Playing surface: Grass.
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: KOA (760 AM & 94.1 FM)
Odds: Stanford by 3.5
Series: Stanford leads 6-4