Skip to main content

Dorrell Confident Buffs Will Show Improvement

Sep 14, 2022
Quinn Perry had 17 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and a recovery last week.

BOULDER — Colorado coach Karl Dorrell said his players have responded this week to the challenge that awaits the Buffaloes on Saturday in Minneapolis.

Nobody needs to remind the 0-2 Buffs what will await them at Huntington Bank Stadium in their 1:30 p.m. contest (ESPN2). P.J. Fleck's Golden Gophers — who beat CU in Boulder 30-0 last season — are 2-0 this year and lead the nation in total offense (582 yards per game) and total defense (142.5 yards allowed per game).

"They're at the point where they know they can play much better," Dorrell said of his team. "They know they haven't performed to their capabilities, and it's showing these last two days in practice … We're going to play better, I know that."

Dorrell hasn't yet named a starting quarterback for the game, as he this week reopened the competition between Brendon Lewis and J.T. Shrout. Lewis started the opener, a 38-13 loss to TCU, while Shrout got the start last weekend in a 41-10 loss at Air Force.

This week, he has made it clear to both that he wants one of them to clearly seize the job.

"They've both had a really good week," Dorrell said. "I think they both felt like they in a lot of ways underperformed, so they're eager to get back out there."

There's no doubt the CU offense needs a spark of some kind. The Buffs have averaged just 255 yards and 11.5 points per game, both near the bottom of the nation. Colorado has managed to manufacture a handful of long drives, but consistency has thus far eluded the Buffs.

And, while those woes are by no means all on the quarterback's shoulders, that is where an offense starts — and Dorrell knows improved quarterback play should raise the level of the entire offense.

"I'm encouraged with how their antennas are up higher and with more urgency about learning and getting things cleaned up," Dorrell said. "When your quarterback's playing well that gives a chance for everybody to play well. They understand that and I think they've taken that to heart and are really working hard."

But it's not just the quarterbacks who must be better on the offensive side.

"We can be better in a lot of areas offensively —  matter of fact in every area," Dorrell said. "Running backs, tight ends, the O-line, quarterback and receivers. There's that sense of urgency about the guys trying to get back to playing productive football."

FAMILIAR WITH FLECK: Three coaches on CU's current staff spent at least one season working on P.J. Fleck's Minnesota staff. Tight ends coach Clay Patterson was with the Gophers for four seasons (2018-21), offensive coordinator Mike Sanford spent two seasons there (2020-21) and cornerbacks coach Rod Chance was with UM for one season (2019).

All three joined Colorado's staff after last season.

"I have a lot of respect for all three of those men," Fleck said earlier this week. "You stay in this profession long enough, you're always going to play against people that have either worked with you or played with you in college or you were on the same staff somewhere. (But) every game has its own entity and every year is its own entity. They have different personnel than they had last year. We have different personnel than we had last year. … But if you stay in the profession long enough, you're gonna run into games like that, but nothing but respect for those individuals that were with us at one point."

BIGGER ROLE FOR SNEED: Dorrell said transfer wide receiver R.J. Sneed II, who got a late start in fall camp because of an injury, should see his role continue to expand.

Sneed is still tied for second on the team in receptions with three for 24 yards. He has yet, however, to get a starting nod.

"He's been solid," Dorrell said. "He hasn't had a lot of targets, but I lik how he caught a high ball in the rain (last weekend at Air Force). He will be more in play this week. We wanted to make sure we didn't put too much on him too early, but he feels good. I think we can continue to grow his package more and more."

ON-AIR TALENT: KOA radio (850 AM, 94.1 FM) will broadcast the game with Voice of the Buffs Mark Johnson and Gary Barnett in the booth. The ESPN2 crew will be Beth Mowins, Kirk Morrison and Stormy Buonantony.

BALL HOGS: Minnesota has opened with big wins over New Mexico tate (38-0) and FCS program Western Illinois (62-10). The Gophers held the ball for 44:30 against NMSU and 39-13 against WIU. Opponents have had just 10 total possessions in the two games, as UM scored on 10 straight possessions against WIU.

BUFFS BITS: This will be Colorado's third trip to Minnesota and the Buffs will be playing in their third different stadium. CU won at Memorial Stadium, 28-6, in 1972, and took a come-from-behind 21-20 win at the Metrodome in 1992. Saturday's game is at Huntington Bank Stadium (capacity 50,805) … Colorado leads the all-time series, 3-1 … CU has lost six straight road games (five last year and one this season) … The Buffs will no doubt need another big game from linebacker Quinn Perry against Minnesota's powerful run game (second in the nation at 302 yards per game). Perry last week had a career-high 17 tackles, along with two forced fumbles (one recovery), one tackle for loss and one third-down stop. Colorado is 131st in the nation against the run (355 yards per game) … CU has yet to record a quarterback sack this season, but opponents have thrown a total of just 28 passes.