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Fall Camp Notes

August 14th

No practice … (brunch, treatment, meetings, dinner) …

Neill Woelk: QB, RB and OL starters? To be determined …

From CUBuffs.comKarl Dorrell‘s Colorado Buffaloes put training camp practice No. 10 into the books Saturday with a scrimmage that covered roughly 90 plays and included some solid performances on both sides of the ball.

— If you’re looking for an answer to the quarterback question, odds are you’ll be waiting at least another week or so.

Incumbent starter Brendon Lewis was the first to take the field in Saturday’s workout and he looked comfortable in coordinator Mike Sanford’s new offense. He utilized the short passing game, had a high completion percentage, took the offense across the goal line in red zone drills and was efficient overall.

J.T. Shrout, meanwhile, had a long scoring pass to tight end Brady Russell to cap a seven-play scoring march. He showed the ability to keep plays alive in the pocket, made plays with his feet and — perhaps most importantly — escaped the first scrimmage of camp unscathed. It was just a year ago that he saw his season come to a premature end with a knee injury in the opening scrimmage.

“Both of those guys are battling, doing some really good things,” Dorrell said. “It’s really been nip and tuck, which is what I thought it would be. They’re both really good players, both different, but they both have great leadership and the team likes both of them … It’s a good problem to have.”

— Colorado could have a productive backfield without one workhorse. Alex Fontenot and Deion Smith both had solid days, and both are still the clear favorites to be the one-two punch on opening night against TCU.

But Jayle Stacks once again showed that he can bring a different dimension to the backfield, walkon Charlie Offerdahl followed up a solid spring with another impressive performance, and true freshman Victor Venn showed receiving ability out of the backfield, hauling in a scoring pass from Drew Carter.

“That group is starting to create the mystique of toughness that I like to see,” Dorrell said. “They’re running hard.”

SCRIMMAGE SHORTS: The Buffs are developing depth on the offensive line in part by making sure some players can line up at multiple positions. Tackle Frank Fillip, a right tackle last year, has been working on the left side while guard Casey Roddick has also been lining up on the left side. The Buffs are still waiting for the return of transfer Tommy Brown, who could add even more to the equation when he’s healthy … WR Maurice Bell, coming back from an Achilles injury, has been having a solid camp and was among the leading receivers Saturday … True freshman Owen McCown continues to show a quick grasp of the offense … Overall, six different receivers caught at least two passes, including true freshman Chase Sowell … Overall, the Buffs offense hit the end zone six times, including red zone and short-yardage goal line drills.

Read full story here

Lewis/Shrout battle ongoing: “They’re both different, but they both have great leadership in their own ways”

From the Daily Camera … On Saturday, the field was in pristine shape while junior JT Shrout and sophomore Brendon Lewis continued their competition for the starting job.

“Between the top two, it’s really been nip and tuck,” Dorrell said of the competition that has been ongoing through preseason camp. “This is what I thought it would be. It should be that way. They’re both really good players.”

Shrout completed several passes, including a 30-yard touchdown to tight end Brady Russell.

“That timing was impeccable,” Russell said. “It was a cool look, because I knew outside, I had to let the receiver grab the corner so that I had an open zone over there. So I was waiting, waiting, waiting, holding off, trying to wait before I broke out on it and JT threw the ball before I even broke, which was cool. I turned and it was right there. So that was exciting seeing that coming together.”

That play was an example that Shrout is fully recovered and getting his timing back with his receivers.

“He looks pretty good,” Dorrell said. “I think he’s making good decisions. He did some really good things.”

So did Lewis, the incumbent starter. His day included a touchdown run on a fourth-and-goal situation from the 1-yard line.

Less than three weeks away from the Sept. 2 season opener against TCU, Dorrell said the two continue to battle for the lead role.

“They’re both different, but they both have great leadership in their own ways,” he said. “When one of the others is in the game, (the offensive players) respond to either one of them so those are all really, really positive things. I think the team really likes both of them. It’s a good problem to have. If the team didn’t like one of them, it would be a little bit more of a challenge. The team, or the offensive unit, feels that they can win with either one of them, so they feel good.”

Read full story here

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August 13th

Practice No. 10 (of 25) … Meetings (8:00 a.m.) … Practice: 9:15 to 11:30 a.m. … Walk through (p.m.)Scrimmage

*Video: Karl Dorrell post-scrimmage talk with media*

… Not great audio, so below are some of the highlights … 

From YouTube, courtesy of BuffStamepede.com … 90-play scrimmage … No major issues … I can see that the team needs this kind of work … Playing eight, nine, ten plays in a row is different than playing two or three plays in a row … The execution was good. The quarterbacks made good decisions … We ran the ball effectively … We did what we needed to do on the defensive side of the ball … We passed the first mid-term … J.T. Shrout’s timing is coming back (may have been a little bit nervous. It was at this scrimmage last year when he got hurt, so it was good to get past this hurdle) … Nip and tuck between the top two quarterbacks … The offense responds regardless of which quarterback is in … The team really likes both of them … The team feels like they can win with either one of them … Getting back into game shape is the biggest challenge right now … Walk-on running back Charlie Offerdahl continues to impress … Alex Fontenot, Deion Smith and Jayle Stacks had hard runs today … Wide receiver Maurice Bell looks better than he did before he was injured last year … Nothing set along the offensive line, with players like Casey Roddick playing on both sides (and playing some tackle as well as guard) … Freshman quarterback Owen McCown having a good camp … Buffs haven’t had a bad practice yet. A “sloppy” on a few days ago, but no bad practices …

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August 12th

Practice No. 9 (of 25) … Meetings (8:00 a.m.) … Practice: 9:15 to 11:30 a.m. … Walk through (p.m.) … 

Isaiah Lewis the lynchpin of the secondary: “He’s the guy; he’s like the catalyst”

RelatedCUATG Interview: Safety Isaiah Lewis

From the Daily Camera … Putting his nose down and working has paid off for sixth-year senior safety Isaiah Lewis, who is one of the most integral parts of the Buffs’ defense.

“He’s the guy; he’s like the catalyst,” safeties coach Brett Maxie said. “He gets everybody together. They watched film in the offseason. During summer workouts, he was the guy that was driving that. I’m just so delighted to have him and I’m proud of him.”

Lewis finally got an opportunity to shine in 2020 and he ran with it. He was one of CU’s best defenders that year, with 27 tackles, two tackles for loss, and eight pass breakups during the pandemic-shortened season.

“It was awesome, just being able to represent the team and represent the defense is a huge privilege,” he said.

While in high school in 2016, he watched former CU defensive backs Chidobe Awuzie, Tedric Thomas and Ahkello Witherspoon shine and couldn’t wait to follow them.

“Those are the guys who I grew up watching from high school, and just kind of wanting to emulate what they did,” he said. “Getting the opportunity to do so through working hard and staying patient, it played out pretty well.”

Last year, Lewis led the Buffs with 79 tackles and added two interceptions.

The other three starters from last year’s secondary all transferred and Lewis is now the only defensive back on the team with significant experience. Being a leader has motivated him as he’s improved this offseason.

“The coaches challenged the players to be leaders and a lot of the veteran guys, if not all of them, accepted that challenge and have done a great job of being a leader,” he said. “Other than that, I wanted to improve my ball skills.”

Continue reading story here

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August 11th

Practice No. 8 … Meetings (8:00 a.m.) … Practice: 9:15 to 11:30 a.m. … Meetings (4:00 p.m.) … No player interviews (team lift) … 

Even without Nate Landman, Buffs appear set at inside linebacker

From CUBuffs.com … For the last four seasons, the Colorado Buffaloes had a rock as a fixture at inside linebacker, where Nate Landman served as a cornerstone of CU’s defense.

When Landman went down with an injury last year in Game 7, the defense took a step back. When Landman moved on to the NFL last spring, the general consensus — at least from the outside — was that the Buffs’ defense would struggle this year without his presence.

But after a productive spring and a robust fall camp thus far, a twist has been added to the equation.

Overall, Karl Dorrell‘s Buffs might actually be better at inside linebacker this year, and that could have a positive impact on the entire defense.

Not that the Buffs don’t miss the physical and emotional influence Landman brought to the field every day. But after years of relying on that influence — and perhaps even leaning a little too heavily on his presence — the Buffs are seeing a host of new leaders emerge throughout the defense.

“Right now, there’s eight or nine guys on that defensive unit that are all doing a great job of keeping everybody on the same page,” Dorrell said after a recent practice.

Several of those players are in the middle of the defense, including inside ‘backers Robert BarnesQuinn Perry and newcomer Josh Chandler-Semedo.

Barnes and Perry emerged last year following Landman’s injury. Perry finished as the team’s second leading tackler, averaging more than eight tackles per game over CU’s last five contests. Barnes, coming back from an injury that hindered him early in the season, finished with four consecutive games with at least six tackles, including a 10-tackle, two-takeaway performance in the Buffs’ win over Washington.

Chandler-Semedo is a newcomer who arrived via the transfer portal from West Virginia and who is having an immediate impact. He’s already getting plenty of repetitions with the No. 1 and No. 2 defensive units, is meshing well with Barnes, and is showing a knack for being in the right place at the right time.

Continue reading story here

Phil McGeoghan on new role as assistant head coach: “It gives me an opportunity to impact 100-plus athletes, rather than just the 14 receivers”

From the Daily Camera … This summer, Dorrell added the title of assistant head coach to first-year receivers coach Phil McGeoghan. It’s not just a title, though.

“For me, it gives me an opportunity to impact 100-plus athletes, rather than just the 14 receivers,” McGeoghan said. “It gives me a license to really get involved with them, find out about their personal histories. If they’re struggling, if they’re down, if there’s something going on with them, then I can just be a calm resource for them. They can shut the door and have a quiet place to talk to somebody where I’ll be vulnerable with them if they’re vulnerable with me.”

In addition to helping players, McGeoghan strives to help Dorrell as much as possible.

“I think being the assistant head coaches is to take as much off of coach Dorrell so he can do whatever he needs to do for this program to be successful,” he said. “If I can do anything in that day that makes coach Dorrell’s day go by little more quickly, more efficiently and a little bit more calmly, I think that’s my responsibility to do that.”

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August 10th

No practice today … (brunch, treatment, meetings, dinner) … 

Buffs building some depth along the offensive line: “We have more pieces there than we’ve had in the past”

From the Daily Camera … A week into preseason camp, the Colorado Buffaloes have yet to solidify their starting group on the offensive line.

The Buffs are, however, developing their depth.

“We do have depth, which is good — really a good thing,” head coach Karl Dorrell said. “That’s one of those areas, among many, that in the past we just didn’t have enough quality depth from our first team to our second team. I would say that’s completely changed.”

Tackles Frank Fillip and Jake Wiley and guard Casey Roddick are returning starters. When healthy, Alabama transfer Tommy Brown will likely start, as well. Meanwhile, Noah Fenske and Austin Johnson are battling for the starting job at center.

“I kind of look at them as 1A and 1B, because they’re competing for that spot,” said Dorrell.

Behind that group, Dorrell said several players are playing well in camp.

Arizona transfer Lucas Eckardt and junior college transfer Alex Harkey are “progressing really well,” Dorrell said. Sophomore Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan is the third tackle, while true freshmen Travis Gray and Van Wells are playing well.

Continue reading story here

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August 9th

Practice No. 7 … (Note: None of the fall practices are open to the public) … Meetings (8:00 a.m.) … Practice: 9:15 to 11:30 a.m. … Meetings (4:00 p.m.) … 

Neill Woelk: Quarterback competition involves more than charting practice stats 

From CUBuffs.com … The biggest story in camp — one that will have plenty of chapters before the opener — is the competition between Brendon Lewis and J.T. Shrout.

A year ago, the two were neck-and-neck in camp before Shrout suffered a season-ending knee injury. Lewis then battled his way through a difficult season in an offense that never found anything resembling a consistent rhythm. While his numbers were by no means eye-popping (1,540 yards, 10 TDs), he did show a great maturity in protecting the ball, finishing the season with just three interceptions.

Now, the two are involved in what promises to be an interesting battle — and both should benefit from the competition.

CU’s coaching staff will closely chart every practice. That means every play every day will be recorded and scored and become part of every quarterback’s overall camp performance. Every completion, explosive play, incompletion, interception and scoring drive will be part of the performance rating.

But, noted Sanford, CU’s coaches will utilize more than just pure numbers to select a starter.

“There’s a statistic that doesn’t show up on a piece of paper, and that’s just the overall flow and operation of the offense, the pre-snap communication, those types of things I think are going to play into it just as much,” Sanford said. “If we’re in rhythm offensively and all 11 guys that take the field each and every snap have an ultimate belief in how the information is being communicated to them, we’ll execute at a higher level.”

Continue reading story here

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August 8th

Practice No. 6 … (Note: None of the fall practices are open to the public) … 9:15 to 11:30 a.m. … walk-through (p.m.) … First day in full pads

Daniel Arias looking to set himself apart: “I can tell you right now he’s not the same player you guys have seen in the last few years”

RelatedCUATG Podcast Interview with Daniel Arias

RelatedCUATG Podcast Interview with Montana Lemonious-Craig

RelatedCUATG Podcast Interview with Jaylon Jackson

From CUBuffs.com … An argument could be made that over the last several years, expectations have exceeded production at the Colorado Buffaloes’ wide receiver.

But this year, despite losing two of their top three wideouts from last year, there’s a quiet feeling of optimism in the Buffs’ wide receivers room.

This could be the year that CU’s wideouts flip the script — a year in which expectations might not be big, but the production could be steady and consistent.

For starters, the Buffs didn’t lose all of their production at wide receiver from last year. Senior Daniel Arias, who has shown flashes of big-play ability over the last couple of seasons, appears ready to add consistency to his repertoire. Arias has 29 career catches for 441 yards and three scores, including 19-for-237 last year, third-best on the team.

“I can tell you right now he’s not the same player you guys have seen in the last few years,” head coach Karl Dorrell said recently. “He’s a hell of a football player.”

Arias’ improvement is not coincidental. It has come with the arrival of new wide receivers/assistant head coach Phil McGeoghan, who has quickly had an impact on the entire group. His arrival coincided with that of new offensive coordinator Mike Sanford, and McGeoghan has quickly instituted an environment of sound fundamentals and execution.

Those traits will be a key part of CU’s new offense, especially when it comes to staying one step ahead of opposing defenses and giving Colorado’s wideouts the best opportunity possible to make plays.

“There’s all these different variations of formations and motions and shifts that are going to allow us to give great multiplicity to the defense but keep it simple for us,” McGeoghan said. “We just have to do a great job of making it easy for us and difficult for the defense to adjust.”

Continue reading story here

DL Janaz Jordan hoping for strong senior season: “I had to improve my conditioning”

From the Daily Camera … Defensive lineman Janaz Jordan has been a model of how to maximize the junior college route.

Following an injury-riddled redshirt year in 2017, Jordan was named all-conference in 2018 at Hinds. He turned that experience into a scholarship from CU.

Jordan now enters his fourth season at CU as a key part of the defensive line rotation.

“The rotation is like an NFL defensive line rotation, so you’re gonna play; the best players are going to play,” he said. “The support of your D-line and the defense, it helps everybody grow and play better together. The rotation and everything is great.”

On the field, Jordan has appeared in 27 games at CU, with six starts. He’s been on the field for 542 snaps, recording 21 tackles while clogging the middle of the defense.

A regular starter in 2020, Jordan was in a backup role last year. He said he has worked to become better this year.

“I had to improve my conditioning,” said Jordan, who played last year between 330-340 pounds. “I think that’s what set me back a little bit, my conditioning and my weight. So this spring, I got my weight down and got my conditioning back.

“It was just me being undisciplined about my weight and the food I’m putting in my body. But, me getting with my nutritionist, my strength coach and my coaches, they got me into the right direction of what food I need to put in my body and how to condition it into strength and everything.”

With preseason camp now underway, Jordan continues working to get himself ready for the season.

“He’s progressing,” defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said. “I think Janaz would tell you he’s not where it needs to be. … He’s got some steps to make and he’s taking those steps. Our job is to help him get there. He’s doing good.”

With the help of Wilson and first-year defensive line coach Gerald Chatman, Jordan said he feels more prepared to dominate this year.

“I feel much better,” he said. “I don’t feel like it’s too much on my shoulders. I feel comfortable. I feel my D-line coach is amazing, my defensive coordinator is amazing. All the coaches are amazing. It makes me comfortable to play, especially at Colorado.”

Continue reading story here

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August 7th

… No practice … (brunch, treatment, meetings, dinner) … 

Leadership: “That’s been the missing component here for the past couple of years”

From the Daily Camera … Dorrell said he gave the seniors a challenge to take care of the freshmen and he credits the veterans for fully embracing that challenge.

“They know that we need this depth,” Dorrell said. “Just like a year ago when we had those freshmen that played for us and how successful they were in giving us great depth, and I feel the team understands that process. They want to play with our best potential out there and sometimes our best potential might be having a freshman behind that senior or junior. They understand that bringing those guys along quickly is going to help us to have a successful season.”

Senior running back Alex Fontenot is one of many veterans doing their part. He is the leader of a backfield that has only five players on scholarship. Two of them are true freshmen.

“They come in, they’re all flustered, they don’t really get how certain stuff works,” Fontenot said. “So I have to pull them to the side and explain to them, ‘No, you do this, this and that.’ They’re understanding and I just gotta keep them on the right track.”

Fontenot and safety Isaiah Lewis are both in their sixth seasons with the Buffaloes and both said the leadership is better than they’ve seen in their time in Boulder.

“It’s critical,” Lewis said. “That’s been the missing component here for the past couple of years is we’ve not really had a significant leader on the team. We’ve had a lot of guys who give their ‘rah-rah’ and we trust what they say, but there hasn’t been a set group of guys who the young guys or even the less experienced guys can count on and that’s the biggest difference is we’ve got those guys now.”

In some areas of the team, the Buffs have players who are four or five years apart in age and experience. That could cause some division, but Lewis said the cohesion between veterans and youth is strong.

“Tremendous difference (from the past),” Lewis said. “Those freshmen are relying on the seniors to give them that information and so are the coaches, because they’re not with them like we are all day. The seniors taking on that leadership role has been something that’s been working out for us.”

Most of the seniors, such as Fontenot and Lewis and tight end Brady Russell, are secure in their roles on the team but have also recognized the importance of getting freshmen ready to play.

“Everybody I’ve seen has been putting the freshmen under their wing and just tried to lead them in the right direction,” Fontenot said. “You can tell that we’ve just taken that next step into leadership because people actually mean what they say and they’re showing it and they’re backing it up now. And then that feeds off to the freshmen and makes them feel like they have to fall in line, which is what you want.”

Continue reading story here

Transfers Tommy Brown and R.J. Sneed on pace to be on the field September 2nd

RelatedCUATG Podcast Interview with Tommy Brown

From the Daily Camera … Two of the top newcomers to the Colorado football team haven’t practiced this month, but the Buffaloes are expecting them to return soon.

Offensive lineman Tommy Brown, a transfer from Alabama, and receiver RJ Sneed, a transfer from Baylor, have missed each of the first five practices of preseason camp with injuries.

CU head coach Karl Dorrell said both could start practicing next week.

Brown, a graduate transfer, played a backup role at Alabama, helping the Crimson Tide win a national title in 2020. He was playing left guard in the spring before a minor knee injury.

“I got it cleaned up and met with a doctor today actually and we’re ahead of schedule,” Brown said Saturday. “I feel great. If this was the old days when you didn’t have to get cleared by a doctor, I’d be playing right now. But thankfully, it’s not the old days, so I will get healthy and I fully plan on being out there for (the Sept. 2 season opener against) TCU. Right now, that’s what it’s looking like, so I’m excited to finally get to go back out there and play some football.”

Sneed is a graduate transfer who caught 133 passes during his time at Baylor. He was having an impressive spring before injuring his foot during the spring showcase on April 23.

“I’m feeling good right now,” he said Saturday. “We’re just slowly coming back, recovering just to make sure we’re out there and ready for Sept. 2.”

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August 6th

Practice No. 5 (Note: None of the fall practices are open to the public) … 9:15 to 11:30 a.m. … walk-through (p.m.) … Football Media Day … Karl Dorrell to speak at noon … Assistant coaches and player interviews at 12:30 … 

Dorrell at CU Media Day: “I think we have a chance to be an outstanding football team”

From CUBuffs.com … Five practices into training camp, Colorado coach Karl Dorrell‘s quiet confidence in his Buffaloes continues to grow.

“The summer work they invested as a team was very impactful,” Dorrell told reporters at CU’s annual media day. “They did some really good things that have put us in a position to be a very competitive team, particularly in our conference … I’m excited about this team. I really am. I’m excited about how far they can go.”

 Dorrell is not a head coach prone to hyperbole, even in training camp, when every team is still undefeated. But after five practices, he believes he’s seeing improvement at virtually every position, both in terms of talent at the top and depth throughout.

Dorrell also likes how quickly his team has adjusted to a coaching staff that has six new faces.

“I think we have a chance to be an outstanding football team,” he said. “The coaching staff has done a really good job with meeting the expectations of what our players expect themselves to be … We still have a ways to go but I’m very encouraged that we’re going to continue to get stronger and better each week because of the attitude and commitment these players have exuded about themselves.”

Dorrell and his players are well aware of the outside perceptions of this year’s team. They know they were picked by the media to finish last in the Pac-12, due in part to the departure of several key starters from last year, both to graduation and the transfer portal.

But one fifth of the way through camp, CU’s coaching staff is getting confirmation of what they suspected at the end of spring ball — despite the losses of some key players, the Buffs might very well be better at many of those positions.

Continue reading story here

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August 5th

Practice No. 4 … (Note: None of the fall practices are open to the public) … 9:15 to 11:30 a.m. … walk-through (p.m.) … no player interviews … 

LB Robert Barnes: “Nate made a lot of plays, and now I gotta go make those plays” 

RelatedCUATG Podcast Interview with Robert Barnes

From the Daily Camera … Robert Barnes said through the entire season, his role was to play in particular defensive packages and when Landman went down, that didn’t change. However, he said, “I think that at the end of the day, we just needed a playmaker. Nate made a lot of plays, and … now I gotta go make those plays. We’ve got to have a playmaker and we can’t just be a whole bunch of play managers out there just managing the game. We need a playmaker that’s gonna go make plays.”

Barnes made a lot of plays and he has spent this offseason putting himself in a better position to make plays this year.

As Riley noticed, CU defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said Barnes is more physically adjusted to playing linebacker.

“He’s done a great job,” Wilson said. “(Director of football sports performance Shannon) Turley has done a great job with him in the weight room. He’s put on some good solid mass; he’s stronger. And the biggest thing is he’s gotten quality reps and playing the position. (Linebackers coach Mark) Smith has done a good job of kind of custom tailoring certain guys for certain roles and now guys can just thrive in those roles.”

In addition to his physical development, Barnes said he has improved his mental approach since the spring.

Selected to represent the Buffs at media day – along with guard Casey Roddick – is a sign that Barnes is also a leader for the Buffs and he takes pride in that. Riley isn’t surprised.

“You’re talking about a leader, a kid that loves football,” Riley said. “Very physical, competitive, tough player. I’m thrilled to see that he’s doing well and I would think with all his experience, and now he’s developed, he’d be primed to have a great last year.”

Continue reading story here

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August 4th

Practice No. 3 … (Note: None of the fall practices are open to the public) … 9:15 to 11:30 a.m. … walk-through (p.m.) 

Safety Isaiah Lewis last man standing in the defensive backfield: “They don’t see how good the next guy up is”

RelatedCUATG Podcast Interview with Isaiah Lewis

From CUBuffs.com … In his time at Colorado, safety Isaiah Lewis has played for three different head coaches, three different defensive coordinators and three different position coaches.

But now, in his sixth season in Boulder, Lewis and his teammates believe they finally have a sense of stability as the Buffaloes enter their third year under the direction of head coach Karl Dorrell.

“We undoubtedly needed that stability, that feeling that we are going in the right direction,” Lewis said after Thursday’s practice. “We needed that trust, the accountability and maturity that comes with that across the board. You can feel a different level of confidence now.”

Not that the coaching staff has remained the same since Dorrell took the reins in 2020. Last winter, he conducted a major overhaul, bringing on six new assistants, including four on the offensive side.

But the building blocks of the culture Dorrell began putting in place when he arrived are still there.

For Lewis, whose growth has been a steady climb to the top of the depth chart since his redshirt season of 2017, the continuity of the same position coach for the last three seasons — Brett Maxie — has been a steadying influence. Meanwhile, the Buffs are entering their second year of defensive coordinator Chris Wilson‘s scheme, another element of continuity he believes will help the defense take a step forward this season.

“We’re not looking for a comfort level as much as we are improved execution every day,” Lewis said. “But now, we’re not trying to not make mistakes. We’re working on being more efficient, knowing the keys, knowing our run fits and being confident that we’re executing at a high level. We believe we can be a lethal defense.”

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Offensive line looking for improvement: “There’s a new culture, there’s a new identity being brought by coach DeVan”

From the Daily Camera … Casey Roddick said the entire offensive line group has been motivated this offseason after the group struggled in 2021. Led by new line coach Kyle DeVan, there is a renewed focus for the group.

“I think that what we’re focused on mainly is obviously taking care of the quarterbacks to an extreme level, but also knowing that each game is (determined by) how we play up front. Knowing that mentality going in every practice has been important for us in our mindset.”

Roddick, right tackle Frank Fillip and left tackle Jake Wiley are returning starters. The Buffs also have veterans Tommy Brown, Noah Fenske and Austin Johnson competing and acting like leaders, Roddick said.

“There’s a new culture, there’s a new identity being brought by coach DeVan and I think that his mentality and his work ethic has been exemplified through all of us,” Roddick said.

Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford said it’s too early in camp to evaluate the line because the Buffs haven’t had pads on through the first two days, but he sees a different group.

“I see a totally different level of confidence in that group since January,” Sanford said. “You can tell they are what you want in an offensive line group. They are extremely tightly knit. So, it is fun to just watch how that translates into just better play on the field, better communication on the field.”

Continue reading story here

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August 3rd

Practice No. 2 … (Note: None of the fall practices are open to the public) … 9:15 to 11:30 a.m. … walk-through (p.m.) 

OC Mike Sanford: “I believe that both of those quarterbacks are going to be needed at different parts of the year”

From BuffStampede.com … “Coach Dorrell and I, and the offensive staff, will make that decision when the time is right. But I am going into this season knowing that for us to achieve the goals we want, which every year should be for us to win the Pac-12 Championship, you have to talk about it to truly believe it … we’re not predicting ourselves to win it, or calling our shot, but I believe that both of those quarterbacks are going to be needed at different parts of the year, however that looks. It might be because one guys busts his shoe lace and the other guy has to go in and he throws a touchdown. It might be, obviously, for a trend in play. It is not going to be a quick leash, we want to name a starter, but the other guy is not going to hold a clipboard the whole year, right? Because they are both extremely talented players.”

Read full story here

Depth no longer a major concern: “We have four teams that are repping”

Notes from the Daily Camera … Dorrell said one difference from the past two years is that the Buffs aren’t worried about depth on the practice field. “That’s not even an issue anymore,” he said. “We have four teams that are repping.” … Overall, Dorrell said the entire team had a great summer “and it shows.” … On Tuesday, the Buffs’ offense made some big plays in the passing game, while the defense forced a couple of turnovers. “We’re always going to continue to stress (turnovers), given that’s where we were lacking last year,” he said. … Other than a few “little nicks” the Buffs are relatively healthy, Dorrell said.

… As the Buffaloes opened preseason camp on Tuesday, Dorrell said the players have adjusted to the new playbook and have so far given positive reviews to the offense being installed by first-year coordinator Mike Sanford and the staff.

“The playbook has changed quite a bit because it is new,” Dorrell said. “It’s completely new terminology, new system of everything because there’s four new coaches on that side. We kind of scratched it and started all over.”

Sophomore quarterback Brendon Lewis, who started all 12 games last year, said the offense isn’t necessarily simpler, but he said it’s “very, very comfortable for me. (Sanford) makes sure to call plays that fit our personality. He’s not just calling plays to call plays. He’s calling plays off certain looks, getting us in the right situations.”

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August 2nd

Practice No. 1 … (Note: None of the fall practices are open to the public) … 9:15 to 11:30 a.m. … walk-through (p.m.) 

Neill Woelk: Fall Camp Storylines to Watch

RelatedCUATG Podcast: “Pac-12 Media Day Recap / Realignment (Speculation) Updates / Fall Camp Unit-by-Unit Preview

From CUBuffs.com When Karl Dorrell‘s Colorado Buffaloes open training camp Tuesday, there will be no shortage of storylines that will be worth watching develop over the next month.

The Buffs will have 25 practices between now and their Sept. 2 season opener against TCU at Folsom Field (8 p.m., ESPN), and every one of those workouts will be crucial to their development.

On what will Dorrell and his revamped staff be concentrating?

The correct answer is “everything.” But we’ve outlined some obvious storylines to follow, as well as some inside-the-numbers issues that will be critical as August unfolds.

Position battles — No doubt, there are plenty worth watching here, beginning with the most important position on the team.

Can incumbent Brendon Lewis hold onto his job as the starting quarterback, or will he be unseated by J.T. Shrout, who is fully healthy and itching to get back into the mix? Dorrell has stressed that Lewis is in the driver’s seat, saying it’s his job to lose. He has been effusive with his praise of Lewis, who has earned the respect of his teammates and coaches with his work ethic and leadership.

But Shrout was impressive last summer before his injury and had a solid spring in limited work. He has also spent plenty of time studying Mike Sanford‘s new offense, and the guess here is this is a battle that won’t be decided until the final weeks of camp.

Of course, there are plenty more positions up for grabs. Running back, wide receiver, inside linebacker, edge rusher and both sides of the line will have playing time on the line. The first couple weeks of camp will be interesting to see what players make an early impression and work their way into more reps as camp progresses.

Workhorse or running back by committee? Colorado’s leading rusher the last two seasons decided to hit the transfer portal — but there’s still talent in the RB room, led by 2019 leading rusher Alex Fontenot. The senior is healthy and might just have a chip on his shoulder after spending the last two seasons playing second fiddle.

Meanwhile, junior Deion Smith has shown flashes of breakaway ability, sophomore Jayle Stacks adds a different dynamic to the position and walkon Charlie Offerdahl is coming off an excellent spring.

But the bottom line here? The position is in great hands under the direction of RBs coach Darian Hagan, who might just be one of the most underrated position coaches in the Pac-12. Hagan has consistently produced excellent running backs in his two stints as Colorado’s RBs coach. From Rodney Stewart to Phillip Lindsay to Trayvon McMillian to Fontenot and Jarek Broussard, Hagan’s backs have always produced.

Thus, we’re confident of one thing — whoever lines up in the backfield will be ready to play.

Continue reading story here

Buffs confident as Fall Camp opens: “We’re very happy to show you guys what’s gonna go on this season”

From the Daily Camera … This time of year, every team has a measure of optimism and CU players are generally fairly confident at the start of camp every year. Much of this year’s team, however, has seen the difference between the highs and lows.

The Buffs were 4-2 and played in a bowl game during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Then, they followed that with a dismal 4-8 season in 2021, when the offense was dreadful.

“Last year was the worst year and I never want to be a part of another year like that,” Roddick said. “That’s definitely driven us in this offseason and helped motivate us.”

Barnes said that after last year, the Buffs had to “reset” the program, realizing it’s a different team.

“I think the work that we put in this offseason speaks for itself,” Barnes said. “I know every team will say that, but I think our focal point is focus on the next game. I think we have a lot of leaders and veteran guys.”

CU has an interesting roster in that it’s a mix between veterans and youth. The Buffs lost several key players to graduation and they were hit hard by the transfer portal. Six starters — including 75% of the starting secondary — transferred to other schools.

There is a firm belief, however, from Dorrell, Barnes and Roddick that the Buffs are better now than they were a year ago.

“We wanted a committed team and we know that the stronger we are as a whole is going to allow for us to be as good as we need to be on the field,” Dorrell said.

Continue reading story here

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16 Replies to “Fall Camp Notes”

  1. I thought the Brady interview had 2 things that really caught my eye:
    1. Brady understood the play well enough to know he had to wait for the play to develop before he broke/released. I don’t think they had that understanding last year at any level.
    2. The ball was thrown before Brady came out of his break. I cannot stress how important this is. A. The quarterback has the ball I. Their hands a shorter time. Less chance of a sack or pressure disrupting the throw. B. The db has less time to react. The db is watching both the qb and the receiver in zone and sometimes even in man depending on the technique. If the receiver makes their break before the ball is in the air the db has more time to react. Yes there are cases in a zone defense where the db who is watching the qb can step in front of a pass, but the qb should be watching that db and judging if they can beat that db to the point where the receiver will be with the ball. Last year Lewis would wait for the reciever to come all the way out of their break and then throw the ball. The db’s and linebackers were already cheating towards the receiver at that point so we had a massive number of defended passes on 5 yard routes which should be easy completions.

    Shrout threw that ball. If Lewis is not doing the same I expect Shrout to start. I think that Sanford could have built an offense last year around Lewis’s legs. But they want a balanced offense so they will go with the qb that can run one.

  2. Isaiah Lewis is a true student athlete. Even getting a master’s. His few words about Rice and the secondary jailbreak had me thinking about their chances to turn pro. If Lewis has a great year he may have a better chance and a great education to boot.
    Its going to be tough for Rice to have a great year if he is riding the pine. There is some serious talent in front of him. If he manages to get past the competition and into show time I will consider it a further indictment of chev.

  3. I am pretty sure earache stated several times that the offense was gonna be pretty much the same with maybe a few twists………..

    Hence I report:

    “Headcoach Karl Dorrell announced at a press conference on August 2, that the Buffaloes wil use a completely new playbook for the offense this upcoming season.

    Buffs.

    Note: Maybe they just changed the font

    1. I don’t recall Eric saying that so that might be an unfair shot over the bow. But the more I hear the more I am excited. I am sure Brian and Adam will not be allowed to disclose much but Brian went in record with a 4-8 season. If that bumps up I think that might give us a clue as to what he saw.

  4. So I definitely think this team has a legit. Hence to do well. Not 10-2 well but maybe 7-5 well. I have been well documented that I think the players lost are not as big as some would think or have been replaced adequately. I think the coaching changes are the big difference and a huge upgrade. Coaching matters. Sure players play but coaches put those players in positions to succeed. Motivate and teach those players what they need.

    Given that. I watched all of the material from Saturday, and then I went and used Cuatthegame’s archives and watched last year’s. Man, it sounded really really similar. Now some of that is culture, and 2 years with the same culture saying those things is probably a good thing. But it is not a game changer. So what happened last year that ruined the season. The worst qb play I have ever seen in the black and gold, defenses stacking the box and DARING us to beat them through the air or find a way to run, and an OC who could do neither. Fix any of that and we do just fine last year. Fix that and if we do not develop any other problems we will be just fine. So it comes down to this for me:
    1. Will we get significantly better qb play?
    Or
    2. Will the OC be able to design an offense that can compensate.
    The word out of camp is basically the same as last year. We look better on offense. But the pads are not on and I am not sure the defense is putting 8 in the box to truly test the offense yet.
    3. Will we get a pass rush?
    My personal opinion is that changing to a 4-3 will actually help. But this one we won’t know.
    4. Can the young DB’s replace most of the effectiveness we had last year.
    I really really like Reed. I think we have a true freshman in Wiggins starting opposite and we have solid depth with Moore and Bethel. I like Wood more than Perry. So I am optimistic here. It will not be better but I don’t think it will be a calamitous drop. Expect some blown coverages though….

    So 3 things have to go right….. possible? Yes, likelyly all three go right? Well I am a stats guy and so let’s put some probablility to it. I think it is 90% likely that we get significantly better qb play or the new OC figures out a way to work around it. I think it is 75 % likely the drop off on our db play is not significant enough to notice. And lastly I think it’s 80% likely we match last years pass rush. So multiply the percentages together means a 54% chance of a winning season. We will actually know the answer to most of these in the very first game……

  5. Sept. come quickly…I am highly optimistic we will be able to run a screen play (which we should run multiple times/game). If that’s the case then I am hopeful we can then stop a screen on D. Glaring deficiencies from last year which are squarely tied to coaching.

  6. There is a sense of optimism that is beginning to be contagious.

    I see six wins for the team – two of the first three, Arizona, Arizona State, California, and Oregon State. USC, UCLA, Oregon, Washington, and Utah will be tough. Win one or two of the tough ones and/or go undefeated in the first three, and the season will exceed ALL of the predictions from the “pundits.” Coach Dorrell is definitely not used to losing,… We will see,…

  7. “Today was the best practice we ever had”

    Nah…………Actually

    “It might have been our best practice” is the quote

    (Note: For some Flailing with the truth is tough)

    But if they can have the continuous improvement that is talked about best each day ………….seems pretty achievable and ………will certainly lead to $2,500/////////////Nice

    Go Buffs….Getting close to game time.

  8. I would love to see both QBs get some real playing time during non-conference, not just mop up or a couple of reps. But a serious game plan with plays that use both of their strengths. Lewis is suppose to be the more mobile one and JT the passer, let’s see them both in live action against an opponent; and see which one’s strengths wins out.

    Maybe a trick play or two too. Don’t show everything during the first two games, save something for the OC’s ex-boss too. But in most seasons a QB is out for sometime, a quarter here or a game or start there, so might as well try to plan some reps into the game planning. Shanahan (and other coaches) used to script the first 15-25 plays of a game, why not script in some QB play?

  9. I go back to your interviews.

    The message from the players stays the same.

    Bowl Bound Buffs equals twenty five hundred dollars cash.

    Go Buffs……………………

  10. It’s funny, Rob. My optimism is trying to get the better of me. I’m trying to not let it. On the bright side, it does seem like Turley’s program is paying dividends now. B-lew has worked his ass off getting better at knowing the game, defenses, queues, timing, etc. I expect he’ll get the nod against TCU b/c I doubt there will be huge separation between him and JT at this point, and he’s earned the right to get the first game nod, if that’s the case. Plus, it sounds like they’ll run two QB’s periodically.

    To the negative stuff… Someone once said, if you have two QBs, you don’t have any. They’re saying it’s an entirely different scheme, terminology, etc. Although it sounds like w/ their football school and coaching style, they believe that’s sinking in, but with a young team, learning an entirely new offense, with new terminology, there’s going to be growing pains. Probably some painful ones. And, if there are a bunch of injuries, and there usually are, that’s going to make things tougher.

    As to the defense? Those young DB’s will be tested early, and often. Hopefully the front seven have a big jump in run-stopping and getting pressure on the QB.

    Can’t wait for the season to start. Even if it’s a bit ugly on the scoreboard. I continue to believe 2023 can be a true turning point, if they can keep this staff and the bulk of the team together through the offseason.

    Go Buffs

    1. So there is legit reason for hope. Will it end up that way, I really cannot say. I think you pointed out the negatives and I agree. I actually think Shrout over Lewis. I really like Lewis and if Shrout struggles I think Lewis will come in with an RPO / read option and not give it back up. But I don’t expect Shrout to struggle enough. I expect the o line to get significantly better, though I am expecting Brown to be out for a bit. I am not sure if our d line is significantly better or not. I like the switch to the 4-3 though so I am hopeful this suits our team better. I agree or corners are going to be challenged. I think Reed is going to have some amazing int’s and some blown coverages. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wiggins is actually starting on the other side as a true freshman. Bethel and Moore as the 3rd/slot corner. I want to see if Wood added weight in the off-season. He was not big enough last year. If he adds some size he could be fun to watch.

      Don’t feel bad about having hope. I truly think we have a legit shot at a good season. 2020 is what we should expect out of Dorrell led teams 2021 was an aberration becuase Lewis was completely unprepared to be a starter and defenses adjusted to it and Chev was completely unable to adjust.

  11. So I was worried about Brown when I saw the surgery…. Despite the fact that they say he will be back by the end of camp I am worried that he will not really be ready to go. Losing the offfseason and much of fall camp is going to hurt. Is he good enough to not need that? Not sure. On the up size the pictures I have seen of Johnson lead me to believe he has gotten much bigger and may be made some nice physical gains over the summer. We are going to need the lines to lead this team on both sides of the ball along with the qb. How they go will be how we go. The lines definitely have the opportunity and people to be good. But they are going to put it together. We will need to see on the qb’s.

    1. No doubt bigger, and probably much stronger with Austin Johnson listed at 300# now after he came in from Highlands Ranch in 2019 listed at 260#. If he does start along with Jake Wiley that would be two guys on that O-line that were part of Mel Tuckers one and only CU recruiting class.

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