At the end of the 2019 season, Colorado’s Karl Dorrell replaced Mel Tucker as head coach after Tucker took the job at Michigan State.
In Dorrell’s first month on the job, the pandemic hit. Colorado played much better than expected during the COVID-19-shortened season.
But the Buffaloes took a step back last season. Entering his third year, Dorrell is juggling several new assistants on the coaching staff and has seen numerous players enter the transfer portal.
Colorado’s offense was punchless and anemic last season, averaging just 20.3 points per game in Pac-12 play.
Will a change in offensive coordinator make a difference?
Dorrell hired Mike Sanford Jr., the son of former Utah offensive coordinator Mike Sanford to lead the offense. Sanford Jr. spent the previous two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Minnesota. Sanford has also served as the offensive coordinator at Utah State.
“I looked at his body of work. Doing my research and looking at him and among a number of other candidates what I felt more importantly than anything is that I felt like he’s had a pretty good track record developing the quarterback,” Dorrell said. “He’s had good success, really good success as of having productive offenses.
“Every place he’s been he’s had a quarterback or two that had opportunities to play in the NFL that have done some really positive things in their careers. What I was looking for was a developer and then a guy that can mold a roster into having some success. Those are the things that stood out to me.”
The Buffaloes will need improved performances from quarterbacks Brendon Lewis and JT Shrout, a Tennessee transfer.
And there are holes at the wide receiver and running back positions.
Receivers Brendon Rice and Dimitri Stanley have transferred. That means Chase Penry, Ty Robinson and Baylor transfer R.J. Sneed will need to step up.
At running back, Jarek Broussard bolted Boulder, transferring to Michigan State. That leaves Deion Smith, Jayle Stacks and Sam Houston transfer Ramon Jefferson to vie for the starting job.
On defense, Colorado has lost two linebackers, Nate Landman and Carson Wells, and three defensive backs. The Buffaloes ranked No. 11 in the Pac-12 last season in total defense and pass defense.
In 2021, Colorado allowed opponents to rush for an average of 178 yards per game and they yielded 30.3 points per game in the Pac-12.
Is Dorrell taking the Buffaloes in the right direction? This year, we will probably find out.
2021 record: 4-8 (3-6 Pac-12)
Sept. 2 TCU
Sept. 10 @ Air Force
Sept. 17 @ Minnesota
Sept. 24 UCLA
Oct. 1 @ Arizona
Oct. 15 California
Oct. 22 @ Oregon State
Oct. 29 Arizona State
Nov. 5 Oregon
Nov. 11 @ USC
Nov. 19 @ Washington
Nov. 26 Utah
Next up: UCLA