BOULDER, Co. — Coach Karl Dorrell’s second season with Colorado is going the exact opposite of his campaign in 2020.
Last year the Buffaloes opened the season with four-straight wins. However, they have just one victory this fall, which came over an in-state FCS foe and have lost three-straight games.
After posting 35 points in the opener, Colorado’s offense has since then sputtered. The unit has been a liability over the past three games and the Buffaloes have averaged a mere 6.6 points. Rock bottom was the goose egg Colorado left on the scoreboard at home against Minnesota.
Although the defense has kept the team in games, towards the end of the second half the unit has been completely gassed. That’s a glaring weakness, considering Colorado has been outscored 31-3 in the fourth quarter over the past three losses.
It’s no mystery the Buffaloes can’t pass the ball. Opposing defenses are stacking the box to stop the run, and forcing Brendon Lewis to beat them with his arm. The Texas native hasn’t thrown a touchdown since the victory over Northern Colorado. Not to mention Lewis is only averaging 78.2 yards per game through the air.
However, Dorrell remains fully invested in his young signal-caller and feels Lewis’ maturation process is progressing.
“I think Brendon a couple of times in the pocket stayed in there against some heavy pressure on third downs, and hit a couple of third down conversions, which is something he has improved on” Dorrell said. “We just got to continue to keep the progress moving forward on the offensive side of the ball.”
The offense is taking the shoulder of the blame for the Buffaloes’ shortcomings. Regardless of the matter, there are other areas the team must improve. Dorrell was shocked when Colorado had its’ first field goal attempt blocked against Arizona State. After all, the Buffaloes take pride in special teams.
The defense committed too many silly penalties against the Sun Devils. Which is why Dorrell wants his defenders to take a different approach to how they bring down the quarterback. Roughing the passer and facemasks are inexcusable, especially in the clutch.
Dorrell is hoping the return of All-Pac-12 defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson will help up front immediately. Johnson brings instant credibility to the defense. He’s also a very versatile defender, who’s a terror in the interior and off the edge. Dorell is glad to have him back in practice and he’ll be available this Saturday against USC.
“He (Johnson) looks like a very good player, he gives us a veteran presence on the defensive front and he’s excited to play,” he said. “It was a blessing on his part to get another opportunity to play, and I think he’ll make the most of it.”
Although Colorado (1-3) is off to a rough start, there’s still a lot of football left to be played. Dorrell is a firm believer that long-term success doesn’t happen overnight. The reigning Pac-12 Coach of the Year has a tall mountain to climb as the Buffaloes navigate though the rest of their conference schedule.
Beating a Trojan team with an interim coach will be a great way to change the narrative on the Buffaloes’ underachieving season thus far. Dorrell wants Colorado fans to know that sustaining success is harder than it looks and there’s several parts of the puzzle he’s still putting together.
“There’s no skipping steps to the process of really building your foundation the right way,” the 57-year old coach said. “There’s things that we need to fix definitely, there’s things that we need to grow and mature in with some of our youth, but I think the morale is still pretty good, they want to win, they want to be successful.”