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Buffs Notes: Dorrell Says 'This Is Lewis' Team'

Nov 6, 2021
CU's Brendon Lewis dives for the pylon for OT touchdown Saturday.

BOULDER — Colorado coach Karl Dorrell left no doubt Saturday night about the status of Buffaloes quarterback Brendon Lewis.

Not that there were many doubts after Lewis helped engineer a thrilling 37-34 double-overtime win over Oregon State on Saturday at Folsom Field.

"What's driving this ship is 'B-Lew'," Dorrell said. "They (his teammates) have a lot of confidence in him. This is his team, his offense. They believe in him as the leader and he knows that. He's stepping up to his role not only as the quarterback, but also as the guy that's supposed to manage this offense. He's feeling much more comfortable doing those things right now. There's a lot of defining moments that are happening right now."

Lewis has no doubt taken a dramatic step forward over the last couple of weeks — especially in light of an early season slump that resulted in him drawing criticism from virtually every corner outside the CU locker room.

It was just three games ago that Lewis was sacked six times and finished with just 69 yards passing in a 26-3 loss at Cal.

But since then, CU has changed its offensive line coach and Lewis has taken control.

Saturday, he completed 15-of-24 attempts for 170 yards and three touchdowns, his second straight three touchdown performance. He also ran 9 yards for a score in the first overtime and did not throw an interception.

"My teammates never gave up on me," Lewis said. "They always told me that they still believed in me each and every game, even when we weren't playing well. They've done a great job of lifting me up and helping me progress as a player."

Lewis no doubt struggled early. After throwing for 102 yards in the season opener, he did not surpass the 100-yard mark again for three straight weeks — all Colorado losses. He did have a 248-yard, two-touchdown effort in a 34-0 win over Arizona, but the Buffs stumbled the following week against Cal.

But over the last two weeks, he has gained a much greater command of the offense and more confidence in the process. 

Last week, he led four touchdown drives of at least 65 yards. 

Saturday, he took the Buffs on touchdown drives of 79, 41 and 72 yards, then scored the first touchdown of overtime with a 9-yard run around the left end and a dive for the pylon.

"My confidence has skyrocketed," he said. "I feel like if we hit plays early in the game then my confidence goes up from there and the rest of the game is a breeze. When I see my teammates make plays it makes me want to keep going. I feel like they've done a good job stepping up for me and I've done a good job stepping up for them."

O-LINE IMPROVEMENT: After the Buffs gave up six sacks against Cal two weeks ago, Dorrell deemed it necessary to make a coaching change on the offensive line.

Since William Vlachos and Donovan Williams have taken over, the Buffs have given up one sack in two games, with Oregon State being blanked on Saturday.

"They have responded very well," Dorrell said of his linemen. "They wiped the slate clean in a way and moved forward with the new process on how we're doing things. They're much more communicative right now. They're doing a lot of stuff that they haven't done the first six

or seven games of the season. I think William and Donovan have done a great job of continuing that communication and problem solving, and making the proper adjustments, in-game adjustments. I think those things have been evident and very impactful for us to continue to have some consistency offensively."

Colorado's line also had its best game of the year in the run game. CU rushed for 222 yards, which included 151 from Jarek Broussard, the Buffs' first 100-yard rushing game of the season.

YOUNGSTERS IN THE SECONDARY: With Mekhi Blackmon out with an injury, the Buffs at times were forced to use three true freshman defensive backs in the game, along with second-year freshman Christian Gonzalez.

Getting some significant time were Kaylin Moore (who started), Tyrin Taylor and Nikko Reed.

"I'm completely confident in those players because they compete with anyone," Dorrell said. "They battle our guys on offense all the time. I know what their abilities are. I have a lot of confidence in those guys."

NO TURNOVERS: For the fifth time this season (and second straight game), CU did not suffer a turnover. The Buffs have turned it over just six times this season, and the five games without a turnover is a CU record. The  previous mark of four was accomplished seven times:  1989, 1993, 2006, 2011, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

BIG PLAYS FROM WELLS: Defensive end Carson Wells was credited with seven tackles, including one sack, and he also had two quarterback hurries.

The sack in the second quarter helped give CU's offense the ball near midfield and set up a Buffs field goal.

One of the quarterback hurries came on fourth down and gave CU the ball at the Oregon State 41. That set up CU's second touchdown of the game and a 20-10 lead.

BUFFS BITS: CU is now 8-9 all-time in overtime games and 5-6 at home … CU is now 20-4 all-time when not allowing a sack or giving up a turnover … Everett Hayes' 60-yard field goal for Oregon State tied the Folsom Field record, matching a 60-yarder by CU's Mason Crosby against Iowa State in 2004 … Jarek Broussard's 49-yard run in the fourth quarter was CU's longest rush of the season … CU had 144 yards in the first quarter, its most of the season. Colorado's first-quarter touchdown was just its second TD in the first quarter this year, with the only other coming in the second week against Texas A&M.