BOULDER - Eric Kiesau believed his ears had deceived him. A Colorado offense that mostly was in rhythm through August and the first week of September failed to hit many, if any, harmonious chords on a lost weekend in Berkeley, Calif.
Simply put, CU's orchestra went flat, and on Tuesday Kiesau was a conductor in search of clues.
"The hard thing about it, (being out of synch) was in a lot of spots," the Buffaloes' offensive coordinator said. "If it was one particular area, you'd wrap your arms around it and fix it. As coaches, at every position, we've got to take our own group and try to repair. It was absolutely no representation of where we are as a football team."
Nonetheless, the Buffs are where they are after a 45-point loss (52-7) to Cal - last in the Big 12 Conference in every major offensive category and still searching for the ON button before high-powered Hawai'i arrives.
"We've got the potential to be a great offense," senior receiver and co-captain Scotty McKnight said. "But we just didn't show up Saturday."
Part of the reason for McKnight & Co. being MIA was Cal sprinting to 14-0 first-quarter and 31-0 halftime leads. The Buffs were playing from behind almost as soon as they left the bus. All areas need shoring up, but Kiesau focused first on his position - quarterback - and termed the play there "absolutely horrendous . . . the quarterback play was not good, whether he was getting heat around him or not. I've talked to him about that; it was not a good enough effort to win, I don't care who the opponent is."
Kiesau said starter Tyler Hansen played "decent" in the opening win against Colorado State, then conceded Hansen couldn't be fingered for all of CU's offensive woes against Cal. "But it always falls on the quarterback - win or lose, it goes on the quarterback," Kiesau added. "We're going to need a much better week this week."
Hansen, who threw three interceptions and lost a fumble, was pressured relentlessly by a Bears defense that sacked him six times. That hounding aside, Hansen admitted to "pressing" more than he did in the opener, when he called himself "real comfortable, just out there playing . . . I've got to be a point guard, execute and not try to do too much. Just go out and play."
Asked if CU's large contingent of California players (27 on the roster) might have been wound too tightly being in their home state, Hansen answered, "Yeah, it was weird. Most of the guys who have that intense look and are ready to go had that deer-in-the-headlights look during the game.
"It was kind of frustrating . . . I think playing in front of all your family members, you don't get to see those people and don't get to play in front of them. So I think some guys took to that a little too much."
Kiesau said he believed when Hansen had time, he was "getting the ball out" on time: "For the most part, yeah, but the ball was on the ground or he skipped it in. There were a lot of other things. That's why I'm so frustrated; I need to demand more out of Tyler because that was not good enough play. He's a good player but he's got to play better."
Although they weren't a model of efficiency in dispatching CSU 24-3, the Buffs left the opener feeling that the offense had enough working parts to be successful. Kiesau was unsure whether that good vibe had been destroyed by Cal.
"I hope not," he said. "I tried to create a little energy (Tuesday) and get them going. I'll know more as the week goes on. I'm watching everybody's eyes and body language and seeing where they're at. My first impression is no, but I still have to see Wednesday and Thursday."
He believes the Buffs will be able to run against the Warriors, who have allowed 512 yards rushing in two games (262 to Southern California, 250 to Army). "We ran it fairly well the past couple of weeks," Kiesau said. "We've got to build on that and take it into this week."
Ball control, he said, could be important because the Warriors "are so fast on offense. In their run-and-shoot deal, they score pretty quick. I don't want to say we're in total ball control, but we want to be efficient and move down the field."
O-LINE CHANGES: For the second consecutive game, starters will change in the offensive line. Position coach Denver Johnson said Mike Iltis will open at center in place of Keenan Stevens and Ethan Adkins will return to left guard to replace Iltis, who started at that spot against Cal.
Johnson said the changes were based on performance: "The truth of it is we've got a cluster of guys in there; there's not a lot of difference in some of them. So we're trying to be fair to everybody and the team. Like we've always said, the guys who play the best play the most."
He also said the weekly evaluation would continue, with continuity in performance the goal: "That's not a contradiction in terms . . . . If you say you're looking for consistency, why are you moving people around? But that's exactly what we're doing, we're looking for the most assignment-correct and physical play as consistently as we can get."
TWEET TAKEN DOWN: Shortly after the Cal debacle, Hansen delivered this message via Twitter: "Buff nation, I promise you this type of thing will never happen again. Going out there and playing like that will never happen again while I'm at Colorado and I can promise that! It's unacceptable."
He said Tuesday the message was removed "a couple of hours after it went up . . . I was just frustrated after the game and wanted people to know that it's unacceptable. As much as the fans are frustrated, we're frustrated, too. We feel the pain and know what it's like. It's not like we don't care; we do."
NO HAKA NOT A SHOCKA: Prior to the spring game last April, the Gold team faced its Black counterparts and performed the Haka war dance, which is part of the Warriors' pregame tradition.
The Buffs decided it probably would be bad form to offer an imitation on Saturday at Folsom Field.
"That's only a spring game deal, I guess," Hansen said. "That's their thing to intimidate us. We've seen it before, we've done it before. We know what it is and it's pretty cool to see. But we've got to come out and control what we can control."
INJURY REPORT: The Buffs are quickly going through their supply of nickel backs. Parker Orms was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury in the opener. His replacement, Travis Sandersfeld, likely will be lost for a couple of weeks after suffering a lower leg fracture against Cal.
Stepping in for Sandersfeld will be redshirt freshman Paul Vigo, whom coach Dan Hawkins called "a very physical player who can run. He's only going to get better."
Also, Hawkins said CU has lost backup center Shawn Daniels to a torn lower foot ligament that will require surgery.
BUFF BITS: Hawai'i hasn't played at a Big 12 school since 1978, when the Warriors lost 56-10 at Nebraska . . . . The Warriors are 2-12-1 against current Big 12 members and 0-10-1 in their past 11 games against Big 12 schools . . . . McKnight won't be the only receiver on the field Saturday with a long reception streak going. The Warriors' Greg Salas has caught a pass in 29 consecutive games. McKnight's streak is at 39 - currently the best in the NCAA.