Buffs Turn Attention To Saturday Home Matchup Vs. Arizona
BOULDER — After a week of working on the little things that have caused some big problems, Karl Dorrell's Colorado Buffaloes turned their focus Monday to what could be seen as a critical crossroads on the CU schedule:
Saturday's 1:30 p.m. home matchup with Arizona.
The Buffs (1-4 overall, 0-2 Pac-12) have lost four in a row and need a win to regain some confidence and turn their season back in the right direction.
Of course, Jedd Fisch's Wildcats (0-5, 0-2) are in the same boat — except the 'Cats are currently in the throes of a 17-game losing streak that stretches back two seasons.
Arizona's last win? A 35-30 victory over the Buffs at Folsom Field on Oct. 5, 2019. Colorado beat Arizona last season, 24-13, in Tucson, led by a 301-yard rushing day from Jarek Broussard.
The Buffs are returning from a bye week that saw them get in three practices, then some time off over the weekend. The Wildcats are coming off a 34-16 loss to UCLA in which the Bruins scored the last 17 points of the game and UA starting quarterback Jordan McCloud suffered a season-ending leg injury.
McCloud's injury means the Wildcats will likely be turning to backup Gunner Cruz, who started the first two games of the season before being benched in favor of McCloud.
The Buffs, meanwhile, continue to sort through their own offensive issues. Those include — but are by no means limited to — the struggles of freshman quarterback Brendon Lewis, who has thrown for 475 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in five games. The Buffs spent last week working on a number of issues within the offense and Dorrell said he believes that work will pay dividends this week.
"Hopefully, the changes we've made are going to help us play more efficient and effective football," he said. "We addressed a lot of things. Coaches' roles, in terms of what the expectations are, the expectations we set for our players … they've owned up that we can be better. So far, so good with that mindset of addressing the issues that are in front of us. So we are moving forward with the subtle changes we did make."
But one thing that won't change is the duty of play calling, which will still be in the hands of offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini.
"There's no change in terms of the dynamics of what we're doing offensively or defensively in their roles from a play-calling standpoint," Dorrell said. "It's just the detail of how we're prepping our guys. We've done some adjustments with giving more responsibility to other people on the staff from a preparation standpoint, but in terms of the play calling, it's going to remain the same."
And, he stressed, the offensive troubles are not solely on the shoulders of the quarterback.
"We need to play better in our protection, in our run systems, blocking on the perimeter, picking up blitzes with our running backs," Dorrell said. "There's a number of things that we really addressed over the bye week that I felt with made some progress with."
BUFFS BITS: Dorrell said tackle Max Wray, who left the Minnesota game early with a concussion and did not play against Arizona State or USC, has passed protocol and could be ready for full-contact work Tuesday or Wednesday. Injuries have taken an early toll on the CU line, with seven different players logging at least 90 snaps up front so far. The Buffs have also used four different starting line combinations in five games. Tackle Jake Wiley and guard Kary Kutsch are the only two who have started all five games …
RB Jarek Broussard continues to lead the Buffs in rushing with 256 yards and two touchdowns in five games. Broussard had the most productive game of his career last year against Arizona, rushing for 301 yards on 25 carries, including a 75-yard run …
Tight end Brady Russell leads the Buffs with nine catches for 124 yards. The last tight end to lead CU in receiving for a season was Ryar Geer, who had 24 receptions for 261 yards in 2006. Russell also has the longest catch of the year, a 65-yarder against USC …
Colorado's leading wide receivers are Brenden Rice (8 catches, 61 yards) and Dimitri Stanley (8-58) …
Linebacker Nate Landman and safety Mark Perry are tied for the most defensive snaps this year, each with 286. Landman is first in tackles with 53 while Perry is second with 34 …
CU's offense has produced just eight plays of at least 20 yards, and four of those came in the opener vs. Northern Colorado. CU's defense has given up 22 plays of at least 20 yards … Colorado has gone three straight games without ever holding a lead.