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Buffs Defense Takes Charge In Second Scrimmage

Oct 24, 2020

BOULDER — For a coach whose background is rooted deeply on the offensive side of the ball, Saturday's second Colorado Buffaloes scrimmage of camp may have left Karl Dorrell wanting a little more.

But for a head coach looking at the big picture, Dorrell saw plenty to like, beginning with a defense that is giving every appearance of being ready to pick up where it left off at the end of last season — and take another step forward.

CU's second scrimmage at Folsom Field included 72 offensive plays, along with some live special teams work. Colorado now has two weeks and 10 practices before the Nov. 7 season opener against UCLA at Folsom.

"A lot of good work again doing some situational football," Dorrell said. "Definitely some things we have to clean up on both sides. At this point in camp with all the information that's in, it's hard to have all that information up and ready for our players to do all at one time. I thought today they did a pretty good job, but in some situations where there was a lot of information we could have performed a little bit better."

When camp opened, Dorrell said he believed the Buffs' defensive line would be a strength of the team. That group has done nothing to change his mind since, and it had another good day Saturday against the run and getting to the quarterback.

"It was one of those days where I felt the defense stepped up and did a nice job in really containing the offense," Dorrell said. "I feel great as a head coach knowing that we have a defense that's gotten better and is building off the success they had late in the season last year. It's good to know the defense had a pretty good, solid day."

CU returns three starters on the defensive line in Mustafa Johnson, Terrance Lang and Jalen Sami. But the Buffs are also getting some consistent production from some others up front, including Lloyd Murray Jr., Jeremiah Doss, Justin Jackson, Janaz Jordan, Austin Williams and Na'im Rodman.

Paired with a steady corps of linebackers, it gives Colorado a solid front seven. Along with returning starters Nate Landman and Akil Jones inside, and Carson Wells outside, the Buffs have also seen OLBs Guy Thomas and Jamar Montgomery improve on the outside while Marvin Ham II and Quinn Perry have been making plays inside.

"I am excited about our experience and our depth on our D-line," Dorrell said. "We have good young players that have stepped up and have really homed in on shaping up their skills and developments and really picked up the pace. (Assistant coach) Chris Wilson has done a tremendous job with those guys to where we're probably a good two teams of depth of guys that can rotate and play and keep us fresh throughout the course of the game. Our linebackers have done well. But it all starts up front and I like what those guys have been doing."

It's not that the offense didn't produce some big plays in Saturday's scrimmage. Quarterbacks Sam Noyer and Tyler Lytle both had their moments, as did running back Jaren Mangham. Meanwhile, CU's deep corps of wide receivers also delivered some nice gains.

"La'Vontae Shenault had a couple nice plays, Chris Carpenter had a couple nice plays, Dimitri Stanley had a couple nice plays," Dorrell said. "It was spread out pretty good. (Tight endO Brady Russell had a nice couple catches and had some runs after catch. They're all doing a really nice job."

The 6-foot-1, 160-pound Carpenter, a true freshman, has been turning heads lately both in the passing game and as a return specialist. He, Stanley, Maurice Bell and Jarek Broussard all took their turns in the return game Saturday.

"Chris is a very electric type of player," Dorrell said. "Tough kid. He plays bigger than his size and I like that about him."

Still, Dorrell said, the Buffs have plenty to "clean up" before the season opener, which includes developing more consistency and efficiency on the offensive side of the ball.

"You had the good moments, really good plays," he said. "But you sense the level of consistency and efficiency of the offense needs to improve."

KICKERS LOOK GOOD: Dorrell said he is pleased with what he's seen from his punter, Josh Watts, and kicker, James Stefanou. Both are products of an Australian system that is sending more and more kickers to the United States, and both have had consistent camps.

Watts is a junior while Stefanou, coming off offseason hip surgery, is in his fourth season in a Buffs uniform.

"James and Josh have done really well," Dorrell said. "James is healthy. The punts are looking great from Josh's standpoint and James has been pretty much automatic with all of his stuff in the field goal ranges. He is doing some kickoffs for us as well. He looks good. His leg looks strong. We feel good about what those two guys will bring for us going into the season.

QB UPDATE: Dorrell said he will probably announce a starting quarterback sometime this week. The competition between Lytle and Noyer has been close throughout camp, but with the opener now on the immediate horizon, CU coaches will likely make their decision this week.

"We wanted to get a couple good weeks and get some evaluation on everyone that's involved," Dorrell said. "We're definitely thinking some time this week we'll come out with an announcement."