QB Lewis' Debut A Bright Spot For Buffs In Alamo Bowl
SAN ANTONIO — Colorado quarterback Brendon Lewis made his debut one to remember Tuesday night, even if the Alamo Bowl final score turned out to be one the Buffaloes would like to forget.
Lewis came on in relief of starter Sam Noyer and engineered three touchdown drives in a 55-23 loss to Texas, a game that ended the Buffs' season with a 4-2 record.
The 6-2, 225-pound true freshman finished the night 6-for-10 for 95 yards passing and he also ran nine times for 73 yards and his first collegiate touchdown. His first collegiate pass was a 26-yard completion to Dimitri Stanley that set up CU's first touchdown of the night and his first run was a 7-yard gain on a scramble up the middle.
"He was the bright note of tonight," CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. "He came in in some difficult circumstances and engineered a couple good drives. It's good to see him gain some experience, gain some confidence, knowing that he belongs at this level and to play against a good program and have the kind of success that he had. I'm very encouraged by his performance today, no question."
Lewis did not play in Colorado's five regular season games. But after the Buffs came up empty on their first six possessions Tuesday, including two that ended on Noyer interceptions, he trotted into the huddle and immediately made an impact.
His first drive went 50 yards in 10 plays. CU converted two third downs on the drive, including his pass to Stanley that put the Buffs on the Texas 2-yard line.
Noyer then returned to lead CU to a field goal late in the second quarter, but after two more empty possessions in the third period, Lewis returned. He then led the Buffs on a five-play, 75-yard scoring drive that included another 25-yard toss to Stanley as well as a 44-yard Lewis run.
Lewis' final scoring drive covered 75 yards in five plays. He completed three passes for a total of 40 yards to Montana Lemonious-Craig and K.D. Nixon, then capped the march with a 2-yard touchdown run.
"I'm sure he'll learn from this in terms of putting that feather of confidence in his hat that he can move forward and continue to develop," Dorrell said. "He was the bright light of the offense. He engineered a couple of drives and I think he engineered the team. Hopefully that will be something for him to carry into the offseason and keep building on going into spring practice."
SENIOR DECISIONS: Dorrell said he will meet individually with CU's seniors after winter break to discuss their future plans. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the NCAA made this a "free" year of eligibility, meaning every senior on CU's team could ostensibly return next year for another season.
That group includes such standouts as linebacker Nate Landman, wide receiver K.D. Nixon, safety Derrion Rakestraw, Noyer, defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson and offensive lineman Kary Kutsch.
Some of that bunch will almost certainly decide to test the NFL waters, but several could return.
If Noyer chooses to return, it could mean an interesting quarterback battle next fall. Noyer may not, however, be available for spring ball if he does return, as Dorrell said the quarterback may face shoulder surgery.
But no matter who returns, Dorrell said, the competition will be open.
"We want to play with the best players at every spot," he said. "Every year is a new year. Every starter that is a returning starter, he's got to prove that he's deserving to be the starter. We need to build the depth of our program to challenge the depth at those starting positions. Every year is a different year."
BUFFS BITS: The catch by freshman Montana Lemonious-Craig from Lewis was the first of his career … Tight end Matt Lynch made the first start of his career … Texas scored the most points (55) against Colorado in its 30-game bowl history (previous, Oregon scored 43 in a 51-43 loss to the Buffaloes in the '98 Aloha Bowl) … The 32-point loss was the largest in CU bowl history, eclipsing the 38-8 loss to Oklahoma State in this same bowl in 2016 … UT also set opponent highs in bowls against the Buffs in total yards (638; old, 535 by Oregon in the '98 Aloha) and rushing yards (303; old, 279 by Notre Dame in the '90 Orange Bowl) … UT's Bijan Robinson set an opponent record for rushing yards against CU in a bowl game with 183 on 10 carries, breaking a 49-year old mark set by Houston's Robert Newhouse in the '71 Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl (35-168); his 66-yard run was also the longest rush, topping a 58-yard TD run by Clemson's Joel Wells in the '57 Orange Bowl.