Fire and ice co­or­di­nate for Bu≠s

Calm Lind­gren com­bines with spir­ited Chi­averini to pro­duce record-set­ting o≠en­sive num­bers

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nick Kos­mider Nick Kos­mider: 303-954-1516, nkos­mider@den­ver­post.com or @nick­kos­mider

boul­der» When Sefo Li­u­fau was re­cov­er­ing from a Lis­franc foot in­jury last spring, un­able to par­tic­i­pate in team drills, the Colorado quar­ter­back put on a head­set and lis­tened.

Dur­ing prac­tices and scrim­mages, Li­u­fau was able to gain an in­side look at the ori­gin of one of the most im­por­tant work­ing re­la­tion­ships be­tween Colorado’s suc­cess this sea­son: the mesh­ing of co-of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tors Brian Lind­gren and Darrin Chi­averini.

“A lot of the kinks were worked out in the spring,” Li­u­fau said. “I could no­tice them a lot more be­cause I wasn’t play­ing. I was on the side­line, and I’d be on the head­set see­ing what they were do­ing and how they were pick­ing each other’s brains with what they wanted to do. Noth­ing is re­ally per­fect, but it’s gone re­ally well for us. They’ve got two great of­fen­sive minds.”

Those two minds have com­bined to guide one of the most pro­duc­tive of­fenses in school his­tory, a unit for No. 9 Colorado (10-2) that will prob­a­bly have to op­er­ate at peak per­for­mance in or­der for the Buffs to up­set No. 4 Wash­ing­ton (11-1) in the Pac-12 cham­pi­onship game Fri­day night at Levi’s Sta­dium in Santa Clara, Calif.

The 5,639 yards the Buffs have gained this sea­son are the most in pro­gram his­tory. So are the 55 redzone trips and the 301 first downs. CU also led the Pac-12 South Divi­sion in to­tal of­fense (469.9 yards per game) and scor­ing (34.8 points).

That suc­cess has been achieved through the mesh­ing of ideas from two men with wildly dif­fer­ent de­meanors.

“With Darrin and I, it’s been a good blend of per­son­al­ity,” Lind­gren said. “He’s real con­fi­dent, out­go­ing, more of an ex­tro­verted per­son­al­ity. I’m more an in­tro­verted per­son­al­ity. I’m up in the box work­ing on game day, and he’s down on the field. He brought a lit­tle spark that I think we needed as a team and as an of­fense.”

Lind­gren be­came the Buffs’ of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor in 2013, fol­low­ing coach Mike MacIn­tyre when he left San Jose State for CU. As MacIn­tyre took stock of his staff at the end of a 1-8 Pac-12 sea­son in 2015, he felt he needed fresh ideas for his of­fense. So he hired Chi­averini, who was the re­ceivers coach at Texas Tech, one of the na­tion’s top of­fen­sive pow­ers.

Lind­gren ad­mit­ted that the hir­ing “was a lit­tle bit of a shock to your ego.” Sud­denly he was shar­ing a job he had done by him­self the pre­vi­ous three sea­sons.

“But I chose it as an op­por­tu­nity to look at things and make tweaks to what we were do­ing that would make me a bet­ter coach,” Lind­gren said. “I’ve learned now, and we’ve built as the sea­son has gone on; it’s made me a bet­ter coach.”

Chi­averini’s in­put helped CU sim­plify its ver­biage, al­low­ing the of­fense to process calls more quickly and in­crease tempo. He also brought in ideas from Texas Tech that helped the Buffs stream­line cer­tain el­e­ments of their prac­tices to make more ef­fi­cient use of their time. And Chi­averini has lauded Lind­gren for his play­call­ing abil­ity, a re­spon­si­bil­ity he ex­er­cises from the press box dur­ing games.

After CU’s 38-24 vic­tory over Wash­ing­ton State on Nov. 19, a game in which CU was as bal­anced of­fen­sively as it has been all sea­son, the two co­or­di­na­tors took to Twit­ter to ex­press ad­mi­ra­tion for each other.

“They talk in be­tween se­ries and talk quite a bit dur­ing the game, ex­chang­ing ideas,” MacIn­tyre said. “We have a set plan, and in be­tween se­ries they are talk­ing and say­ing: ‘Here’s what we want to do the next se­ries. Here’s what we want to do in the red zone the next time.’ They’ve done an ex­cel­lent job of work­ing to­gether.”

Lind­gren said hav­ing such dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties has worked in the fa­vor of the two co­or­di­na­tors.

If they were both fiery like Chi­averini or more calm like Lind­gren?

“I don’t think we would have made it out of spring,” Lind­gren quipped.

Brian Lind­gren, left, says shar­ing du­ties with Darrin Chi­averini, right, has made him a bet­ter coach. Times-Call file

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