Season wrap: Colorado

The first-season returns on new head coach Mike MacIntyre are positive. And they should be. The Buffs showed improvement in almost every aspect offensively and defensively and won three more games than they did the year before.

Critics will say that two of those victories were against FCS teams. And that’s fair. But it’s also two more FCS teams than they beat last season. Just saying. Baby steps.

MacIntyre has a clear vision for how to rebuild a program. And while Colorado might not yet be up to Pac-12 standards on either side of the ball, you saw a team that was more competitive in 2013. Some losses were still lopsided. And that will take time. But they also got a small taste of victory, which can carry a team into the offseason and beyond.

You can read our graded review of Colorado here.

Offensive MVP: With 83 catches and 1,343 receiving yards, Paul Richardson was everything Colorado hoped he would be and more in his return from a knee injury that kept him out of 2012. He hauled in 10 touchdowns and was one of the best stretch-the-field threats in the country. Without question, he deserved a spot on the first-team all-conference squad.

Defensive MVP: There were a lot of young players who gained valuable experience last season, but no one expected freshman Addison Gillam to storm onto the scene like he did in 2013. The freshman All-American posted 119 tackles, seven tackles for a loss and three sacks. Of his 119 stops, 78 were unassisted.

Best moment: There is probably no better feeling than a new coach winning his debut. And to do it against an in-state rival probably feels extra good. The 41-27 season-opening win over Colorado State snapped an eight-game losing streak and put a little wind in the sails of the MacIntyre era.

Worst moment: For all the positive momentum, Colorado was still on the sour end of a lot of blowouts. But on the road at Utah in the season finale, the Buffs fought off a 21-0 halftime deficit and came within one score in the fourth quarter. With 2:01 remaining, they had a chance to drive for the tie, but Sefo Liufau was picked off on the first play of the drive, securing a 24-17 win for the Utes.