Buffs Freshman QB Lewis Displaying Good Decision-Making Process
BOULDER — Colorado quarterback Brendon Lewis' numbers were by no means eye-popping in his starting debut last Friday as the Buffaloes hammered out a 35-7 win over Northern Colorado.
Lewis completed 10 of 15 attempts for 102 yards and a touchdown, and his longest completion of the night was just 23 yards. He also ran eight times for 44 yards.
But the number that stands out the most in Lewis' debut?
Try zero, as in the number of interceptions thrown — and in the big picture, maybe the most important number of his statistics line.
Lewis didn't give the ball away. He didn't prematurely end a Colorado possession and give UNC an extra possession with a poor decision.
Simply, he made good choices, allowed discretion to rule the moment when necessary and gave his team a chance to win.
For a freshman quarterback, those are qualities that will serve him well as his maturity process continues. They are also qualities that will be critical Saturday when the Buffs play host to No. 5 Texas A&M in a 1:30 p.m. game at Empower Field in Denver (Fox).
"He took care of the football," said CU head coach Karl Dorrell. "If he didn't like any of the progressions, he got the ball out of bounds or threw it away. With a young quarterback, sometimes that's hard to train. He thinks he can make every play … from that standpoint, he showed a level of decision making that was pretty good."
Indeed, Lewis' first inclination is to make the play — every snap. A standout dual-threat quarterback in high school, there was seldom if ever a play he couldn't salvage. He has the prototype big arm, good legs and great instincts, and all those attributes have served him well.
But in college ball, the level of competition goes up dramatically. Lewis has had to learn that it's OK to take an incompletion once in a while rather than absorb a sack or throw an interception. CU coaches have stressed that point on a regular basis and Lewis has taken the coaching to heart.
"I try to limit turnovers because turnovers lose games," Lewis said earlier this week. "I don't like throwing interceptions."
Lewis will be the first to admit his starting debut was far from perfect. On a couple of occasions, he didn't see open receivers that could have produced big gains, and on others he held the ball just a little too long.
"Obviously he's got a lot of stuff to clean up," Dorrell said. "He knows that. Watching the tape, he feels we left some plays on the field for sure. But I thought overall he played pretty well."
After watching film with QBs coach Danny Langsdorf, Lewis said he must learn to trust his reads and get the ball out of his hands a little faster. That will give his receivers a chance to make plays in space before the defense can adjust and swarm to the ball.
"We don't want him in there being a turnover machine and trying to jam balls into tight windows," Langsdorf said. "We'll take holding the ball a little bit over a turnover every time. I just think that he was was safe with his decisions. We want him to be aggressive but but also not careless. I think game experience will be huge for him. It's something you can't simulate."
Lewis said he expects to improve every game.
"I played decent," Lewis said. "But I feel like I'm going to get better and better as each week goes on."
Saturday's game will no doubt be a major jump in the level of competition. Instead of an FCS team that hadn't played a game in nearly two years, Lewis will be seeing the nation's fifth-ranked team and one that has its eyes on a playoff bid.
For Lewis, who grew up in Texas, it's an opportunity he relishes.
"Playing them is going to boost my game because they're a really good team," he said. "They have a bunch of NFL guys so I feel like playing them is going to help me a lot down the road."
FIRST LOOK A&M: After a slow start last week, Jimbo Fisher's Aggies caught steam and rolled to a 41-10 win over Kent State.
- Freshman quarterback Haynes King completed 21 of 33 pass attempts for 292 yards and two scores — but he also threw three interceptions.
- The Aggies have a solid one-two combination in the backfield. Junior starter Isaiah Spiller carried 17 times for 113 yards, but the star of the day was sophomore Devon Achane, who had 12 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns, including a 63-yard jaunt.
- Defensively, safety Leon O'Neal picked off a pair of passes, including one he returned 85 yards for a touchdown. The Aggies recorded five sacks in their opening win, including 1.5 from freshman D-lineman Shemar Turner. Linebacker Aaron Hansford led A&M with eight tackles.
SERIES NOTES: Colorado leads the all-time series, 6-3, with the first meeting coming in 1995. Both were founding members of the Big 12, and CU won the last meeting, 35-34, in Boulder in 2009. Both programs left for new conferences soon thereafter, with CU heading to the Pac-12 in 2011 and A&M to the SEC a year later.
This game will be just the third time CU has hosted an SEC team in Colorado (not counting former Big 7/Big 8/Big 12 foe Missouri). LSU played in Boulder in 1979 and Georgia visited Folsom Field in 2010.
CU has played 93 games in Denver, posting a 55-35-3 record. The last 19 came against Colorado State.
Joe Davis and Brock Huard will handle the television call for Fox.