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Fall Camp Roster Review – Quarterbacks

The Stats: 

Sam Noyer was the unlikely choice to start at quarterback for the 2020 season, with most Buff fans expecting either the long-time Buff Tyler Lytle or freshman Brendon Lewis to get the nod. Instead, it was Noyer, who led the Buffs to a 4-2 record. Below are stats from CU’s quarterbacks in 2020:

  • Sam Noyer … 80-for-137, 1000 yards … six touchdowns with five interceptions … 45 carries for 191 yards and five touchdowns (including six sacks for a loss of 31 yards) … 1,191 yards of total offense
  • Tyler Lytle … 4-for-7, 13 yards … no touchdowns; no interceptions … one carry for 15 yards
  • Brendon Lewis … 6-for-10, 95 yards … no touchdowns; no interceptions … nine carries for 73 yards and one touchdown (v. Texas; Alamo Bowl)
  • J.T. Shrout (at Tennessee) … 24-for-42, 315 yards … four touchdowns and three interceptions … 8 carries for 4 yards

CU Nationally: 

  • Red zone offense … .913 (21-of-23; 17 touchdowns; four field goals) … 14th nationally
  • Rushing offense … 212.3 yds./game … 23rd nationally
  • Third down conversion offense … .427 (41-of-96) … 48th nationally
  • Total offense … 413.8 yds./game … 48th nationally
  • Scoring offense … 28.5 pts./game … 63rd nationally
  • Passing offense … 201.5 yds./game … 87th nationally

The Roster: 

  • J.T. Shrout, Sophomore
  • Brendon Lewis, Freshman
  • Drew Carter, Freshman
  • Jordon Woolverton, Freshman (walk-on)

What others say about the CU quarterbacks:

Athlon’s … Unit Ranking: 10th in the Pac-12 … “The favorite to win the job might actually be freshman Brendon Lewis, a talented dual-threat who made his debut in the Alamo Bowl and led the Buffs to three touchdowns. Tennessee transfer J.T. Shrout adds experience to the room, and he’ll compete for the starting job as well.”

Phil Steele … Projected Starter: J.T. Shrout … “While this unit is less experienced with the departure of Noyer, there is still some solid talent here for 2021”.

Comments … It seems hard to believe, but, if the Buffs had not picked up sophomore transfer J.T. Shrout from Tennessee, the CU quarterback room this fall would consist of a COVID freshmen, a true freshman scholarship quarterback, and a true freshman walk-on quarterback.

That’s it.

In addition to losing Sam Noyer (transferred to Oregon State) and Tyler Lytle (transferred to UMass), CU lost three walk-on quarterbacks, including highly-regarded Grant Ciccarone, who remains in the Transfer Portal.

Suffice it to say, CU fans are hoping that, whoever earns the starting nod this fall, that the starter will remain healthy. Simply put, the Buffs have few options if one of the contenders is injured.

So … who will start the season against Northern Colorado in the opener on September 3rd? Will it be freshman Brendon Lewis, who showed promise in his relief role in the Alamo Bowl against Texas, or transfer J.T. Shrout?

From the Daily CameraLewis might be the odds-on favorite to win the job. A product of Melissa High School in Texas, Lewis has a strong arm and is a talented runner. He had some ups and downs in the spring but was a much-improved player from the fall. Shrout came to CU for a new start after three seasons at Tennessee. He also had some ups and downs in spring but was getting acclimated to a new offense. He’s got some experience in what is considered the best conference in the country, the SEC. While not as mobile at Lewis, Shrout has a strong arm and can be accurate with the ball, making him a strong candidate to win the job. Carter might be a year away from competing for the job, but he’s got exceptional athleticism and it’s possible that he turns a strong summer into a good fall. Woolverton is also a dual-threat who provides some depth.

With the losses of Noyer and Lytle, the addition of J.T. Shrout is not only welcome, but vital.

Last winter, Shrout popped into the portal, the Buffs reacted quickly.

“We jumped on him hard,” Bob Lopez, CU’s director of player personnel, told BuffZone this summer. “Chev and coach Dorrell and Danny did a great job of previewing the offense (for Shrout), talking about how we’re going to develop him and depth and, bam, it happened,” Lopez said. “It’s gonna be a fast process.

“It’s like trying to buy a house in Colorado right now. You’ve got to have good sources and you’ve got to have a connection because if you’re not in on it right away, you ain’t getting a house.”

For his part, offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini has not showed his hand as to whether Lewis or Shrout is the leading candidate to start.

“We have a competition going into fall camp; that’s a good thing,” Chiaverini told BuffZone this spring. “You want to have a competition, you want to see these guys perform under pressure, perform in live scrimmages, move the first unit down the field and score points. Whoever can do that at a high, consistent level, that’s the guy you roll with.”

Lewis and Shrout are the favorites to win the job, as they were the two splitting time with the No.1 and No. 2 offenses in spring.

“You saw flashes in the bowl game with Brendon Lewis of being a really dynamic quarterback, being able to run the ball as well as throw the ball and get yourself out of trouble,” Chiaverini said.

“JT Shrout flashed some really good things in spring ball,” Chiaverini said. “He’s got a strong arm. He’s got really good touch. Throws a really good deep ball, has good presence.”

Final word … You want to know why Colorado is picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 South by almost every preseason publication (except Lindy’s, which has CU finishing fourth)?

See above.

While it’s also very true that CU’s recent history suggests that the Buffs’ 4-2 record and Alamo Bowl appearance was more fluke than trend, the lack of certainty about the quarterback position is the main reason few prognosticators give CU much hope of repeating its second-place finish in the South.

Which candidate will emerge from Fall Camp as the starter? Will we know who the starter will be midway through August, or will Karl Dorrell and Darrin Chiaverini hold off on announcing the starting quarterback until the week of the opener against Northern Colorado?

Whoever earns the nod, they will need to hit the ground running. After (what will hopefully be) a warmup game against the UNC Bears, the Buffs will face, in succession, Texas A&M (a top ten team in every preseason magazine) and Minnesota (11 wins in 2019), before opening Pac-12 play against Arizona State and USC (both consensus Top 25 picks for this fall).

With shaky quarterback play, a 1-4 start is not out of the question.

One anonymous Pac-12 coach told Athlon, “The running back (Jarek Broussard) is their guy right now. He’s incredibly talented, and they want to use him until the QB (Brendon Lewis) gets up to speed. I think it’s clear they want to bring him along slowly. Right now, that offense is built around spreading you out enough to work the run in. They want to create easy wins in the passing game and open up light boxes to run out of”.

CU last won a conference title 20 seasons ago. That year, the Buffs had a great running game and an outstanding defense. The quarterback, Bobby Pesavento, was a game manager. He wasn’t called upon to win games, just not lose them.

Buff fans are hoping for a similar recipe from its starting quarterback in 2021.

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6 Replies to “Fall Camp Roster Review – Quarterbacks”

  1. I think it’ll be Shrout. Obviously, it’s a total guess, but some of the recruits mentioned hanging out with him and Langsdorf during their visits, and Lewis didn’t come up. How’s that for scientific analysis?

    Whoever it is, if the team has a QB, this could be another surprising year to the up side. If not? Oh boy. I’m going w/ the up side surprise, until proven otherwise.

    Go Buffs

  2. So in the dull days of July I went ahead and rewatched the spring scrimmage….. now I totally get that there were a lot of players out but it really solidified my thoughts on Shrout and Lewis.

    Shrout has a cannon for an arm. When he plants his feet and throws it is a serious fast ball, it is on time and on target. The issue is when he is under duress. His footwork can get out of wack and he throws into the ground. Think Sefo but with a better arm. Now his footwork may have been out of wack becuase he is learning a new offense or it could be he has the yips in a collapsing pocket. I also watched the Tennesse game he started and it looked like the same issue.

    Lewis – so Lewis is real interesting to me. His arm, especially compared to Shrout, is much softer. He arcs balls a lot more when he is throwing more than 15-20 yards down the field which is going to give db’s time to react. On the sideline throws we saw in the Alamo bowl and in the spring scrimmage it works becuase he is really really good at dropping the ball in. But I am worried that deep middle passes will be out. I need to see him throw that 15 yard tight end split the safeties in zone throw, or even worse (and the bane of Noyer) the cover 0 throw where it is mostly man but you have a safety or linebacker playing zone….. this said, he is accurate. His throws are largely catchable and on time. And here’s the part I think will win him the job and caused Noyer to leave…. His wheels are sneaky fast. At the end of the day we are going to likely be a running team. With Shrout behind center you really don’t care about the qb option, he isn’t fast enough to really hurt you. With Lewis, if you don’t account for him in the run game he is going to tear you up. He runs effortlessly, it looks like he is just out there almost jogging but he is chewing up yards. One other item, especially compared to shrout is he stands in the pocket well and delivers accurately. He does not appear to get the yips….

    Now, summer is a long time. Both of these guys will have a chance to improve during summer and fall camp making these observations moot. But I will tell you I think that Noyer left becuase it is pretty clear from spring that Lewis is better than Noyer and if Shrout gets the work in and actually surpasses Lewis in fall. Amo then we are inreal good straights. I will say if Shrout can get his footwork settled and work through his issues about throwing and then getting immediately hit he will be very very good. Until then though Lewis will likely win the spot

  3. Red zone offense and rushing were right up there nationally, so, get that passing game going as well and CU can be right there too. Time for the VK to break it down, how much of that passing ranking is due to the second half of the season compared to the beginning?

    If Noyer’s injury was more of the problem and caused limits of which plays were called along with the TE injuries and missed/or not attempted throws due to the injuries, then it’s may not just be play calling and the Buffs could be better than expected. I mean 14th nationally in the Red zone and 23rd nationally in rushing just needs a top 25 in passing to make them really dangerous… I really think the QB play will improve, hence Noyer the starter leaving, because the other two will be an upgrade on a player that did really well considering the challenges from covid and the late hire of KD, being a first year starter and etc…

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