The reigning Pac-12 Coach of the Year is gearing up for his second season in Boulder and Colorado fans are feeling the excitement.
After all, Karl Dorrell surprised the College football world when he led the Buffaloes to their first winning season since 2016. His success after being away from the league for nearly 13 years was a reflection on Dorrell’s history with the conference.
The 57-year old has laid down his foundation with the program, plus his players, staff and fans have bought in. Dorrell also showed he’s not afraid to make big decisions. Since he’s been with Colorado Dorrell has changed Defensive Coordinators.
The Buffaloes had three scholarship quarterbacks on their roster last year, including last year’s starter and All-Pac-12 performer Sam Noyer. Now Brendon Lewis will be taking helms of the offense and he showed his potential in the bowl game against Texas. That’s the good part. The bad part is Noyer is no longer with the team. That leaves some lingering questions about who’ll be Lewis’ backup, after JT Shrout suffered a season-ending knee injury in fall camp.
Colorado will be fielding one of the best backfields in the division. The return of the Pac-12’s Offensive Player of the Year Jarek Broussard brings instant credibility. His backup Alex Fontenot has 885 career rushing yards and five touchdowns. Talented wide receiver Brenden Rice is primed for a breakout season. And Dimitri Stanley plans on finishing where his father Walter left off with the program.
On the defensive side of the ball is where Colorado will need the most improvement. The late addition of Mustafa Johnson back to the defensive line is going to do wonders for the unit. However, depth must be established around Johnson and other playmakers must step up for Colorado in the trenches.
The Buffaloes have the best set of linebackers in the Pac-12 in Nate Landman and Carson Wells. Landman is a three-time All-Pac-12 performer, who has fully recovered from a torn achilles he suffered against Utah. Wells knows how to penetrate opponents’ backfields, with 17 tackles for loss, which was best in the FBS last season.
The secondary is talented with Mekhi Blackmon, Christian Gonzalez and Isaiah Lewis. The trio combined for 73 tackles and broke up 17 passes in 2020. Not to mention strong safety Mark Perry also runs track for Colorado and has speed to burn.
New Defensive Coordinator Chris Wilson has a scheme that’ll allow the Buffaloes to be more aggressive with the pass rush. In return that should provide the defense with plenty of opportunities for interceptions. This Friday’s matchup with Northern Colorado will tell Dorrell a lot about his team.
In-state foes always play big brother with nothing to lose, so Colorado needs to be ready. Regardless of the matter, the Bears have Dorrell’s full attention and he has his team focused on their home opener. Folsom Field will be rocking under the Friday night lights with the return of fans. Which is why Dorrell is eager to show fans and the rest of the Pac-12 that last season’s success was no fluke.
It only adds more fuel to the fire that the Buffaloes were picked to finish fifth the Pac-12 South this fall. Now the team will be playing with a chip on their shoulder, and if Dorrell’s track history means anything, it shows he’s all about proving the doubters wrong.