With three games to play, Colorado head coach Deion Sanders isn’t focusing on the fact that his team has lost three straight games and five out of six.
“My life is positive,” Sanders said Tuesday during his weekly news conference. “You’ve got to understand I don’t dwell on yesterday. Losses are hard to flush tremendously for me, though, because I’m a bonafide winner.
“I’m a natural fixer and I want to fix things. I want to make things work. I want to make things right. I want our fans to be pleased. I want our AD to be ecstatic and I want our kids to all go pro and be successful in some form or fashion and that includes winning.”
As a fixer, Sanders has work to do with the Buffs (4-5, 1-5 Pac-12), who will host No. 23 Arizona (6-3, 4-2) on Saturday (noon, Pac-12 Network).
First on his agenda this week, though, was to point out the good when he met with players.
“Sometimes when you’re losing like we’re losing, you’ve got to find positives to energize the staff, to energize the young men that’s working their butt off to make it happen,” he said.
Sanders shared some stats with the Buffs this week, including the fact that they rank among the national leaders in takeaways and sacks, as well as red zone defense. On offense, the Buffs are averaging 15 more points per game than last year (30.4 compared to 15.4) and they are dramatically better in the passing game.
“There’s a tremendous amount of positives that we must lean on with these young men because they’re playing their butts off,” Sanders said. “There’s no quit in them. And that’s one thing that draws me closer and closer to them and I love it, that there’s no quit in them. They have not shut it down. They’re still fighting their butts off to the end.”
In addition to the positive stats, Sanders and the coaching staff have spent time pointing out that the Buffs are close to fielding a winning team.
Three of the five losses have been one-score games. Another, at UCLA, was a five-point game going into the fourth quarter.
“We broke it down and allowed the young men to see the multitude of opportunities there were defensively and offensively,” Sanders said. “And when you break it down and show them, OK, if we’d have done that, we’d have took advantage of the opportunity. If we’d have done that, we would have taken advantage of an opportunity. Now it’s a different score and it’s a different scenario.”
Sanders realizes there are a lot of “ifs” after games, but said, “You’ve got to show them how close they are.”
It’s a process that a lot of building teams go through, including CU’s opponent this week.
Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch took over a team that went 0-5 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season (after losing seven straight to close 2019). Fisch lost his first eight games — extending Arizona’s losing streak to 20 — before wrapping up his first campaign at 1-11.
Last year, Arizona went 5-7 while being more competitive in losses. Now, the Wildcats are bowl eligible for the first time since 2017.
CU, of course, went 1-11 last year, while getting blown out in 10 of those losses. Sanders brought a lot of hype to Boulder when he was hired in December and the 4-5 record isn’t ideal, but the Buffs hope they are close to turning the corner.
“Our team is learning how to be consistent,” he said. “When you are consistent with anything in life, you’re usually successful in that. We’re learning how to be consistent in certain areas. … We just gotta be consistent in the things that we desire to do well, and as of right now in some aspects of our game we’re inconsistent.”
As CU wraps up the home portion of the schedule on Saturday, however, Sanders wants Buffs fans to think positively about the future.
“(Have) positive hope that I wish you could only understand how close we are to being what we want to be and do what we want to do,” he said. “We got our butts kicked once. Everything else we had an opportunity to win. We gotta learn how to win.
“I’m truly as impatient as you are, and the young men in that locker room, they’re impatient as well, but they want it. I can’t say they don’t want it. They truly do because they have not given up.”
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