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Buffs Coaches Get Good Baseline Look From First Scrimmage

Aug 14, 2021
Buffs QB Brendon Lewis gets off a throw under the watchful eye of coach Karl Dorrell in Saturday's scrimmage.

BOULDER — Saturday's first scrimmage of fall camp gave Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell and his staff a good baseline measurement of where the Buffaloes stand after nine practices.

There were some explosive plays on offense and special teams, some big stops by the defense — but most of all, the scrimmage gave CU coaches a good look at players who are vying for playing time in live action.

"This will be good tape for us to watch and see our guys play without the coaches behind them telling them what to do," Dorrell said after the Folsom Field workout, which consisted of roughly 90 plays from scrimmage and about a dozen more special teams plays. "I'm sure there'll be a lot of corrections that we have to do and fix some things, but I also saw a lot of really good things, too. Some good execution and good plays. We have to get it fine tuned, and we have time to do that, but I'm pleased right now after nine days of camp."

The scrimmage was by no means a final tune-up; in fact a number of CU's established starters played only sparingly or not at all.

But the workout did give players who are vying for starting spots — or key backup roles — the opportunity to make a case for themselves.

Freshman Brendon Lewis got the most playing time of the quarterbacks after sophomore J.T. Shrout left with a knee injury. Lewis had an outstanding day throwing and running the ball, including scoring tosses to tight ends Alec Pell and Jared Poplawski and wide receiver Dimitri Stanley.

(Dorrell said after the scrimmage that the extent of Shrout's injury was not yet known.)

"I thought B-Lew did some really good things," Dorrell said. "He made some plays with his feet and also made some throws."

Running back Jarek Broussard, meanwhile, quickly made it apparent that he's ready to pick up from last year, when he led the Pac-12 in rushing. Broussard broke a long touchdown run early in the scrimmage, then took a seat for the rest of the morning.

Pell and Poplawski are among the tight ends competing for significant playing time, and both have had solid camps thus far. Pell, a converted linebacker, is showing he can catch the ball and block in the run game. Poplawski, coming back from two serious injuries, is also having a good camp and displaying his versatility.

Stanley also had a productive day at wide receiver, leading the Buffs in catches and also ripping off a long touchdown on a punt return.

Defensively, inside linebackers Marvin Ham II, Quinn Perry and Jack Lamb all put themselves in the middle of the action on a regular basis, with Ham and Lamb accounting for a trio of sacks. Up front, defensive end Terrance Lang got some quality snaps and responded with some big plays as well.

In the secondary, veteran safety Isaiah Lewis had a productive day, and freshmen corners Kaylin Moore and Nikko Reed both made plays — a good sign at a position where the Buffs are in need of building some depth.

"(Reed) has flashed and made great plays with great coverage at times," Dorrell said. "He's a very confident kid and I'm pleased with where he's at. Same thing with Kaylin Moore. Both those guys are going to be helpful for us. They go out there and compete. We're pleased that we have that kind of corner depth that we didn't have a year ago."

Saturday's scrimmage will no doubt play a role in helping CU coaches establish who will be getting more (and fewer) reps as the Buffs move closer to their Sept. 3 season opener against Northern Colorado.

"This was a big test for everybody to kind of showcase what they can do, playing on their own and seeing if they can adjust to the game," Dorrell said. "All of that's going to be taken into account now going forward."

NOTEWORTHY: CU's depth at linebacker — inside and out — has no doubt improved dramatically from a year ago. Outside 'backer Guy Thomas flashed early in the scrimmage and fellow OLB Joshka Gustav also made some plays … D-linemen Janaz Jordan and Justin Jackson, both aiming to make their way into the rotation, had some moments … Mark Perry continues to look more and more comfortable at safety … Placekicker Cole Becker hit both his FG tries, including one from nearly 50 yards … RB Deion Smith, coming back from a knee injury, appears to be regaining form … WR Brenden Rice had a long kick return ... OT Jake Wiley continues to solidify his bid for a top spot. Wiley and Pell had key blocks to help spring Broussard on his long TD run.