- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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There is no sugarcoating Colorado's 2012 season. So quarterback Connor Wood won't even try. It was miserable.
But misery teaches more lessons than easy comfort and success. Those lessons aren't fun. But they can have great value. At least if they are assiduously applied in the future.
"As a quarterback, I've learned that no matter what the score was the previous week, you've got to come in -- no matter who you are playing -- and have the mindset you are going to win the ballgame," Wood said. "No matter if the score was 50 to nothing last Saturday, you've got to come in on Monday ready to go to work. And that's week after week after week.
"No matter if you get your gut kicked in, as a leader of the team, you've got to have your head held high and have that face of confidence for the team. I think that can be in business or with your family. Even if you're struggling, you're the head of the house and you have to have the same mindset. Even if you just got fired."
Wood is the front-runner to be the starting quarterback in coach Mike MacIntyre's first season in Boulder, and that might have been true even if Shane Dillon and Nick Hirshman hadn't transferred or Jordan Webb didn't blow out his knee. Sure, he could be challenged by touted incoming freshman Sefo Liufau, and Jordan Gehrke, a transfer from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College who signed after spring practices, might be a wildcard.
But Wood sees the starting job as his.
"That's exactly how I am," he said. "My attitude going into fall camp is I will be the starter. You've got to have your mind thinking that way. It's how you work. It's how you talk to your teammates. That's my mindset. That I'm the guy here."
That sort of talk should be encouraging for Colorado fans. The Buffs need leadership. They need confidence. They need the moxie to want to spit into the eyes of those casting them as one of FBS football's worst teams.
There isn't anyone predicting more than a couple of wins this season, much less a bowl game. Colorado might be better, the general offseason consensus goes, but that's pretty much based on it being inconceivable that things could be worse.
Wood, much like his team, had a poor 2012 season. He saw spot action and made one start, and his numbers were bad: 50 percent completion rate, four interceptions, one touchdown. A 6-foot-3, 230-pound former Texas signee, he looked the part. Only he wasn't playing it.
And, yeah, it was hard for a guy who had been a high school superstar and a celebrated Longhorns signee to flounder.
"Confidence was an issue for me -- in my throws, in my decision-making. It was declining," he said. "But that's something I learned as well for this upcoming season. No matter if you throw an interception or two interceptions the previous game or on the previous series, you have to be mentally tough to be confident in that next throw, and be sure what you see."
If you listen to Wood and other Buffaloes players, you sense that they are swallowing what MacIntyre is spooning them. That's relentless optimism and hard work. Such notions, of course, are a sliver away from cliche and certainly won't launch a revolution in coaching philosophy, but they are a critical foundation for a potential Colorado rebirth.
Nietzsche noted "That which does not kill us makes us stronger," but that's not entirely true. The lessons from adversity must be applied. And not just one weekend. Over and over, in every practice as well as games.
"I've grown so much since I've been here," Wood said. "I've been tested on so many levels. If you want to talk about football specifically, I've been tested with perseverance, with a program that has been down for years, being a part of the season we had last year. The lessons that I've learned this past year and a half have been priceless.
"I'm so much of a better quarterback and better man because of my being here and the experiences I've had."
Now the question for this fall becomes how do those experiences translate to more success on the football field for Wood and the Buffs?
4dChantel Jennings and Ted Miller