1. Are CU fans feeling patient as a new coach tries to build the program or if they are feeling frustrated about a team with only two wins this season? Are there signs of progress despite not winning many games.
I think the overwhelming response from the fanbase is patience, though there are always detractors to new regimes. Generally, only those in touch with the program know how big the hole was when Coach Mac got here. Speaking of progress, there are definite signs of improvement. MacIntyre has referenced the steps to rebuilding multiple times: lose big, lose little, win little, win big. Right now, the Buffs have taken the step to losing little. The attitude is there, the effort is there (both large improvements over previous years), but the results are not. The team knows they're close, but it will likely be next year before the wins start rolling in.
2. There appears to be a lot of parity in the Pac-12 South this year. With no single dominant program, there are 5 schools currently in the hunt for the title. What does Colorado need to do to step up into that group in the coming years?
The easy answer is win, but with such ridiculously good competition, that's a tall order. Colorado needs to get lucky, get older, and get bigger. What helps next year is the mass exodus of quarterbacks from the South next year. Hundley (maybe, you know more than me), Wilson (most likely), and Kelly will all leave the conference, leaving CU with possibly a top 2 QB in the South. Right now, due to a lack of experience and recruiting, CU is getting better slowly while everyone else is getting better fast. The Buffs will need to make a big jump in experience and talent to compete in the South, both of which are on the way.
3. We know a Pac-12 referee isn't satisfied without throwing a flag once a series as a baseline, but CU is really struggling in this area this year. Why all the penalties this year?
The homer in me is saying ridiculous calls, but that's not completely true. I think the refs are calling contact a lot closer than the coaches here at CU thought, and that is translating into a lot of questionable PI and holding calls downfield. Many other penalties, on the offensive side of the ball, are the players trying to make up for athletic deficiencies by cheating. Chop Blocks (maybe), false starts, offsides, all happen because the team is preparing to lose the individual battle. There is no one spot that CU gets penalized for, other than maybe PI, it's just a combination of a lot of things. Sorry for the copout answer, but it's true this time.
4. UCLA's offensive line has struggled plenty this year. How do you think CU exploits that weakness this Saturday?
Hopefully they blitz a lot. It's been a while since I've seen this defense pin their ears back, and I would love nothing more than sending 6 every play. However, I don't think that will be the case. I think this team will remember the 7 touchdown gashing at the hands of Kessler and do as much possible to prevent that, unfortunately. If they can get consistent pressure with four, that would obviously be best case scenario, but so far this season, that hasn't happened consistently. To answer your question, I think CU won't take advantage of the shaky line, and will only blitz when necessary, unfortunately.
5. Which offensive player and which defensive player will be most critical for the Buff's success this weekend?
For the offensive player, the expected player is Nelson Spruce. Generally, CU goes as he goes. However, for the Buffs to pull this one out, Sefo Liufau has to have a bounce-back game. He has shown flashes, time to put it together. If he plays fantastically, Colorado has a legit shot at this. That's a long way way from his current state though. Defensively, I'm gonna say that Josh Tupou needs to have his best game. He has been vastly underperforming this year, but that's more a function of his high expectations than anything. If he can generate consistent push against the interior of the UCLA line, pressure on the edges should be that much easier.
Once again, a huge thanks to the great folks at The Ralphie Report. Stop by and check out their site for the best coverage and analysis of our Pac-12 South friends in Boulder, and you can see and add to our answers to their questions, too.