The Colorado Buffalos are on the rise. Thanks to Darrin Chiaverini, the Buffs are in the midst of one of their best recruiting classes in a decade, if not longer, and there’s real reason for optimism. But at the end of the day, a winning culture or freshman class doesn’t mean much if you’re not winning on the field, and that’s what the Buffaloes are focusing on right now.

Mike MacIntyre and his staff know what is at hand and understand the expectations they’re facing — mainly, improving the offense.  The team averaged less than 20 points per game in conference play last season, after averaging 26.5 ppg in 2014.

“We’ve got to improve in all areas,” Chiaverini, co-offensive coordinator/recruiting director, said. “When you come off a 4-9 season, not a lot went right. You’re not going to win a lot of games scoring 19 points.”

The goal of the staff is to develop that winning culture by improving in all areas, from being more efficient in practice to simplifying some of the things that bogged the offense down. That doesn’t mean simplifying everything, or selling out to the “Texas Tech offense,” but it does mean finding efficiency in everything they do.

Chiaverini alluded to a hybrid offense that would center around what the Buffs have run in the past, incorporating many of the concepts that were run at Texas Tech. This would allow the Buffs offense to be more up tempo, get playmakers out in space and allow some zone running which could help break up a lot of the seven-man fronts CU played against last year.

“When you have co-coordinators, you have to mesh well and work well together,” Chiaverini said. “I believe we do, and I really like our offensive staff; they are great men and great coaches. I’m excited about what we’re going to do.”

Game planning won’t just be left to the co-offensive coordinators, though, as the whole offensive staff will work in close unison throughout the week. But in regards to the relationship between co-offensive coordinators Brian Lindgren and Chiaverini, they expect to work hand in hand.

“There’s going to be a lot of communication between us,” Chiaverini said. “On game day, coach Lindgren will call it and I will support what he is calling and give him information he can use to be successful. If we win, we all win. I don’t look at it as an ego thing but what can I do to help this team win?”

In the end, though, as is the case with all football teams, the offense will largely hinge on the play of Sefo Liufau, who has faced his fair share of criticism over the last year. But Chiaverini believes a lot of that is unwarranted.

“People like to talk negatively about him, because CU hasn’t won,” Chiaverini said. “He’s handled the criticism really well. There’s no one that wants to win more than Sefo, and I want to help him do that. I want to help him leave a great legacy at Colorado, which he can!”

Chiaverini inherits a receiving group that’ll be without Nelson Spruce for the first time in four years, but he says he “believes we have a strong group of receivers.” Chiaverini said the following about his receiving corp:

  • Shay has the ability to be a top Pac 12 receiver, but is still learning the little things that will make him elite.
  • Devin Ross had excellent spring and made huge strides; he could have a breakout year
  • Juwan Winfree is a man. He’s excited to see what Juwan can do having not seeing him in spring.
  • Kabian Ento is still developing a skill set, but it’ll interesting to see what he and Juwan at X-Receiver will do.
  • Jay MacIntyre had a really nice spring
  • He loves the young guys –Anthony Julmisse, Johnny Huntley and Derrion Rakestraw

Chiaverini believes he has a really good nucleus of guys. And while he understands that they are going to run the wrong route and make mistakes every once in awhile, the main thing he wants to see is a guy that can make plays even when those things happen.

One of the biggest misconceptions about the Texas Tech offense Chiaverini helped run, though,was that they simply threw the ball around and that’s it. What people don’t realize is that DeAndre Washington led the Big XII in rushing despite being in a “pass heavy offense.”

The 2016 fall camp will help the Buffs coaching staff see if they have a back like Washington in Boulder, because Chiaverini would love to find that guy. And if they do, he believes the Buffs have the opportunity to surprise a lot of people.

“They’re on a mission to leave a great legacy,” Chiaverini said. “They’ve heard the noise, the naysayers and critics and they’re tired of it.  We want to go to a bowl game but we have to put the work in to do that.”

Chiaverini knew one day he would come back to Boulder to coach at his alma mater, and the stars aligned this December. It gave Chiaverini the opportunity he sought and had the support of his former coach in Kliff Kingsbury, who understood the desire to coach at your alma mater, being a Texas Tech alum, and his wife, Shannon, and family.

“I truly love this place, this isn’t a job to me, it’s personal.” Chiaverini said. “It’s been tough to see CU struggle, and I’m very thankful for the opportunity Coach MacIntyre, Rick George and Lance Carl gave to me. I mean that when I say I am going to do everything possible to make sure CU has as much success as we can and build this thing for the future.”

Through his first six months on the job, he’s well on his way. At the end of the day, on-field success is all that matters in this business, but Chiaverini has made sure he’s done his part to ensure the Buffs can do just that.