Buffs' Dorrell Exudes Confidence At Pac-12 Media Day
LOS ANGELES — Colorado coach Karl Dorrell didn't shy away from the topic of expectations during Friday's Pac-12 Media Day at the Novo Theater.
Dorrell, heading into his third year as the Buffaloes' head coach, knows his team was picked by the media to finish last this year in the Pac-12. He knows the perception that comes with a lengthy list of departures via the transfer portal (even though the majority of those transfers ended up taking a step down on the college football ladder).
But Dorrell, who brings an 8-10 record at CU into his third season in Boulder, made it clear he believes his Buffs will be better — much better — than the preseason prognostications.
"We have a great foundation," Dorrell said during his "main stage" press conference. "The foundation is there. Now we're building the talent, building the room, building the roster. I believe you're going to see a quality team this year, a team that's going to be very competitive, a team that's going to win more games than they won a year ago."
Of course, simply exceeding last year's win total — CU finished 4-8 in 2021 — would not be an earth-shattering accomplishment. Five victories still wouldn't bring the Buffs into the bowl-eligible world.
But if the Buffaloes can indeed squeeze out even a couple more wins than last year, it would put them back in the postseason for the second time in Dorrell's three years, likely put them at least in the middle of the pack of the Pac-12, and send a message that Dorrell's plan is moving along at a solid pace.
Throughout the day — both on the main stage and in the "studio" interviews with Pac-12 Network talent — Dorrell stressed that he wasn't ready to stand pat after last year's disappointing finish.
He dramatically overhauled his coaching staff, bringing in six new assistants that included four on the offensive side. He addressed some need positions via the transfer portal — and Friday, he took the time to address what he believes is a misperception about CU's offseason player departures.
"We had a number of players that left our program, (but) sometimes when you make projections, you see who left and you don't know the ones who replaced them," Dorrell said. "They're unknowns. But from our standpoint, we feel like we're in a better position now than we were a year ago. That's what no one knows and that's an exciting part for us as a football program."
Colorado added six transfers from the portal in the offseason, most of whom could provide immediate help. The list includes a pair of offensive linemen in Tommy Brown (Alabama) and Luke Eckardt (Arizona), wide receiver R.J. Sneed II (Baylor), linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo (West Virginia), quarterback Maddox Kopp (Houston) and defensive end Chance Main (Incarnate Word).
But, Dorrell stressed, the Buffs also have some young players who gained some valuable playing time last year who could also be ready to step into more significant contributing roles. That includes some talented youngsters in the secondary and defensive line, as well as some upperclassmen ready to take the next step on the offensive line and wide receiver.
Perhaps most importantly, Dorrell now has a foundation of players who have put their trust in him as well as a coaching staff that he has been able to assemble with the benefit of time and evaluation. Those new coaches quickly made an impression in spring ball and Dorrell believes the team had its best summer yet in the strength and conditioning arena.
"The positive is that we're able to build our team with guys that are like-minded and players that are on the same page with a staff that's been very invested in these young people," he said. "We've come full circle with our effort, attitude, work ethic, determination. Everything is all moving in the right direction."
Of course, all those factors will be put to a test in a hurry in CU's non-conference schedule, a lineup that does not include a single cupcake. Rather, it's a meat-and-potatoes lineup that starts with TCU at home on Sept. 2, followed by road trips to Air Force and Minnesota.
"It's a challenging schedule, absolutely," Dorrell said. "But who would want it any other way? We want to be measured up against the best in the country. This gives us a chance to make a big impression with a lot of people."