Through two games, what are the biggest improvements you've seen between last year and this year for the Buffs?
Number one has to be coaching, you're seeing a team on the field that a aware of the game plan and are being put in a position to execute it. The offense is organized and OC Brian Lindgren has been able to find ways to get Paul Richardson and other playmakers in a position to make plays, and defensive coordinator Kent Baer has done the same. The players just seem to know what they are doing out there, which sadly is something you could not say in the past. As Mike MacIntyre likes to put all over the athletic center "Knowledge = Confidence = Playing Fast."
Next has to be the receivers, the addition of Paul Richardson has opened up the field immensely for the rest of the corps, he stretches the field and demands so much attention that it is much easier for players like Nelson Spruce and Tyler McCulloch who weren't able to get any separation last year to do just that. Also, the conversion of D.D. Goodson from running back to slot receiver is paying dividends early. All of this of course has made it much easier for Connor Wood under center making Quarterback a big improvement too.
Finally, the secondary looks like an entire different unit of players. Last year, and even in to the spring it looked as if all you had to do is run fly routes on this secondary and you would score all day, now all of the sudden the secondary is making plays, with 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 touchdowns in the first two games and have only given up 480 yards in the air. Again, credit goes to the coaching staff for putting them in the right place to make plays. This quote from Mike MacIntyre after the Central Arkansas game said it all:
"The pick at the end of the game, the receiver lined up tight so we taught him a certain thing to this game, because they throw fades to that kid all the time. So if he lined up in a certain way instead of you playing him naturally inside you're going to jump to the outside, and sure enough he jumped outside and he beat him to the ball."
Now of course all of this has been done against Colorado State and an FCS team, but if you look at last year, at this point the Buffs were 0-2 against basically the same slate and none of these things could be talked about in this light.
Bigger impact you've seen on the Buffs so far: Mike MacIntyre as coach, or Paul Richardson back to being Paul Richardson?
This is a really good question, and I wish I could pick one, but it has to be both for this reason: In my opinion and if you listen to any of his press conferences Connor Wood would not be where he is right now if it wasn't for this coaching staff. As good as Paul Richardson is, he needs a quarterback to make those throws and without MacIntyre I don't believe he would have that. Look at Marquise Lee at USC.
Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow!