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Dorrell Hopes O-Line Coaching Change Brings 'New Energy'

Oct 25, 2021

BOULDER — Another lackluster offensive performance proved to be the breaking point for Colorado coach Karl Dorrell.

Monday, Dorrell announced the dismissal of offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue, saying the Buffs "needed new energy and a new voice."

Rodrigue's departure comes in the wake of CU's 26-3 defeat at Cal on Saturday, a game in which the 2-5 Buffs finished in single-digit scoring for the third time this season while compiling just 104 total yards offense. CU finished with only 35 yards rushing against the Bears — the Buffs' third game under 100 yards this season — and yielded 12 tackles for loss, including six quarterback sacks.

"We just haven't been able to put it all together on a consistent basis," Dorrell said. "That brought me to the conclusion that I needed to do something to hopefully give us a new approach and to kind of refocus and reset the button for us as we have these five games remaining. I felt it was the right time to do that, try to give our players some energy, some redirection and some focus."

Quality control assistant William Vlachos, a former Alabama offensive lineman, will take over the lead duties with the line and graduate assistant Donovan Williams will continue to work with the group as well for the remainder of the season. 

Dorrell met with CU's offensive linemen Sunday night and told them of the change. He said the players "responded favorably" to the news.

"They understood the decision I made," he said. "They respected it and they're moving forward with a new attitude and hopefully some new efforts to get some things shored up."

Last season, Dorrell's first at the CU helm, the Buffs had one of the best rushing attacks in the Pac-12, averaging 218.4 yards in five regular season games. Running back Jarek Broussard, who earned Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year honors, had four 100-yard-plus games, including a 301-yard performance in a win over Arizona.

Colorado also gave up just six sacks in five regular season games in 2020.

But this year, CU is averaging just 121 yards on the ground per game and has yet to produce a 100-yard rusher. Broussard leads the Buffs with 337 yards in seven games (48.1 per game), and Colorado has already yielded 22 sacks.

"What happened last week … it came up just one time too many," Dorrell said.

Colorado returned the bulk of its offensive line from last season, losing only left tackle William Sherman to graduation. But injuries were a factor early and a hoped-for boost with two additions from the transfer portal has yet to materialize. 

Dorrell said he hopes Vlachos and Williams will bring new messaging to the line.

Vlachos, an All-American center at Alabama in 2011, worked as a graduate assistant for the Crimson Tide for two seasons (2013-14), then worked in quality control for the offense for the next three seasons. He then spent one year as an offensive assistant with the Buffalo Bills and joined Dorrell's staff in March 2020.

Williams, also in his second year on Dorrell's staff, previously worked at Mary Hardin-Baylor in Texas for two seasons. He lettered twice as a player at Louisiana-Lafayette.

Dorrell also said he would continue to evaluate the rest of the coaching staff as the season progresses.

"We are definitely looking at anything and everything right now," he said. "That was just the first point of where I felt we needed to make a change at this time. I'm going to continue to assess as we go through these last five games and see how much improvement is being made and the likelihood or unlikelihood of when we need to make any more changes. It's still open. I'll just tell you that. Everything is still open."

SHENAULT TO RETURN: Dorrell also said that wide receiver La'Vontae Shenault, who was suspended after the first game of the season, has returned to practice and will be available for Saturday's game at Oregon.

The contest at Autzen Stadium, set to kick off at 1:35 p.m. (MT), will be televised by Fox with Aaron Goldsmith and Brock Huard in the booth.

OSU GAME TIME SET: CU also announced Monday that the Nov. 6 game against Oregon State at Folsom Field (Homecoming weekend), will kick off at 5 p.m. and will be televised by the Pac-12 Network.

Contact: Neill.Woelk@Colorado.edu