Buffs Focus On Taking Advantage Of Opportunities, Begin Prep For Gophers
BOULDER — Karl Dorrell's Colorado Buffaloes went back to work Monday knowing full well that the task ahead is a challenging one.
The Buffs, 0-2 after Saturday's 41-10 loss at Air Force, head to Minnesota on Saturday for a 1:30 p.m matchup with the 2-0 Golden Gophers (ESPN2). The Gophers have been receiving votes in the Associated Press top 25 and have the nation's No. 1 offense (582 yards per game) and No. 1 defense in yards allowed (142.5 per game).
"We've got a lot of work to do," Dorrell allowed at his regular Monday press conference. "We had that discussion with our team. They understand we're in a hole, but we can get ourselves out of it. We can if we play better football. We've got to make sure what we're practicing actually is how we play … I know we have it in us."
One of the Buffs' biggest priorities this week will be figuring out how to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. CU allowed two potential scoring chances to slip away last week when a touchdown would have cut AFA's lead to 20-17. The week before, Colorado came up empty in a red zone trip on the first series of the game and ended up trailing by one, 7-6, at the half.
In the end, both losses became lopsided affairs. The Buffs must figure out how to convert those chances when presented.
"Defensively, we did show some life (at AFA)," Dorrell said. "We had some really good stops. We had some turnovers. … I felt like our defense gave us chances in that game. Now, offensively, we have to take advantage of those opportunities."
While CU's defense did force three turnovers, the Buffs reaped just three points from those chances. Air Force, meanwhile, converted three Colorado turnovers into 14 points.
QB SITUATION: The Buffs have started two different quarterbacks in two games — Brendon Lewis and J.T. Shrout — with similar results. Colorado is averaging just 255 yards and 11.5 points per game. While Dorrell said after Saturday's game that CU coaches might consider adding some of the younger players to the competition equation, he made it clear Monday that it's a two-man race— and one of them needs to step up and clearly seize the job.
"We just don't feel that there's any separation," Dorrell said. "We feel like this is a really important week to press them both about who wants this job. They both had a chance to lead the offense … We want to get back on the grass and get going and then make some type of determination later in the week."
Shrout's first start as a Buff didn't go well. He finished just 5-for-21 for 51 yards and an interception. But as Dorrell noted, Buffs receivers had six drops, and the interception came via a tipped ball off the hands of a Colorado receiver.
"This is a week that we're still in competition," Dorrell said. "We have to figure out who's going to elevate themselves this week to get the nod."
INSIDE INFO: When the Golden Gophers visited Boulder last year and took a 30-0 win, Mike Sanford was serving as Minnesota's offensive coordinator.
This year, he'll be on the Colorado sidelines in Minnesota, as he was hired to the same position by Dorrell last winter. His knowledge of Minnesota's personnel could be a benefit.
"That's valuable insight," Dorrell said. "He does have some familiarity. But it still comes down to execution and us being able to get all 11 of our players doing everything correctly more consistently. That's the biggest challenge."
FIRST GLANCE AT GOPHERS: P.J. Fleck's team is a veteran-laden group that includes a sixth-year quarterback in Tanner Morgan, a pair of outstanding running backs in Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts, a big and experienced offensive line, and a quality defense.
The Gophers enter the game ranked No. 1 in the nation in offensive yards per game (582) and yards allowed defensively (142.5) after easy victories over New Mexico State (38-0) and Western Illinois (62-10).
Minnesota throttled CU a year ago at Folsom Field in a 30-0 win. The Gophers held Colorado to minus-18 yards rushing and UM finished the season ranked eighth in the nation in rushing yards allowed (97.5 per game).
Ibrahim is averaging 131 yards per game on the ground this year with Potts averaging 84 and both are averaging at least 6.0 yards per carry. Ibrahim did not play against CU last year because of an injury, but Potts ran for 121 yards and three scores in Boulder.
Morgan, who was 11-for-17 for 164 yards last year against CU, is averaging 230 yards per game in the air, as Minnesota boasts a balanced attack — 302 yards per game on the ground, 280 in the air.
Fifth-year linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin leads UM's defense with 10 tackles this year. The Gophers have also intercepted two passes and have three QB sacks in two games.
BUFFS BITS: Four Buffs offensive linemen — tackles Jake Wiley and Frank Fillip and guards Casey Roddick and Tommy Brown — played all 55 offensive snaps for CU against Air Force. Centers Austin Johnson (37) and Noah Fenske (18) split time … Linebacker Quinn Perry logged the most time of any defender, playing 68 snaps. Others who received a majority of the playing time were LB Josh Chandler-Semedo (65) and cornerbacks Kaylin Moore (60) and Nikko Reed (57) … Second-year freshman DL Tyas Martin played 26 snaps and had four tackles while transfer rush end Chance Main played 36 snaps with a pair of tackles and a fumble recovery … The Buffs still have not recorded a quarterback sack this year, although AFA presented few opportunities, attempting just five passes … CU has yet to score a touchdown from the red zone in four opportunities this year while opponens have produced six touchdowns in eight chances.
UCLA GAME TIME ANNOUNCED: The Pac-12 has released its game times for Sept. 24 contests.
Colorado will host UCLA that Saturday in a noon game at Folsom Field, with the game to be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.