In announcing a change at head coach for the Colorado football team Sunday, athletic director Rick George said he wanted to bring “new energy” to the Buffaloes for the season finale.
So far, it appears that has worked.
On Monday, the Buffs (5-6, 2-6 Pac-12) got back to work as they prepare for Saturday’s game at California (6-4, 3-4).
“It was almost a new edge, a new focus for people,” linebacker Drew Lewis said. “I think the dynamic changed and did switch up our mindset a little bit for the better. Whether it’s a little bit or a lot, we’ll see how that goes on.”
Quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper is leading the team as interim head coach, and running back Travon McMillian said, “It did feel different having Rope leading the team. Other than that, no matter what, guys are trying to win. No outside factor is going to motivate us to do better.”
Roper, meanwhile, said the practice wasn’t much different for him.
“I really still see myself as coaching the quarterbacks,” he said. “I had to put the schedule together and those type of things, but for the most part, when I got on the field, I went over there and coached the quarterbacks.”
His message to the team, he said, was simply to focus on Cal.
“You need to talk about, obviously, what took place (Sunday), and we did, and now it’s time to move on to Cal,” Roper said. “The focus needs to be to come up with a good plan to defeat a good football team, a physical team, a team that’s won a lot of football games.”
During Saturday’s 30-7 loss to Utah, quarterback Steven Montez left the game early with an undisclosed leg injury. Roper said Montez is “day to day.”
“He practiced today,” Roper said Monday. “He’s a tough guy and obviously wants to play.”
Montez has started each of the Buffs’ last 23 games. He has thrown for 2,679 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions this season.
No change in location
There was talk over the weekend about Saturday’s game at Cal possibly being moved to a different location, because of the air quality in the Bay Area after wild fires nearby.
On Monday, however, it became official that the game will still be played Saturday at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.
Roper said he expects other coaches on staff to have their same roles this week. … Cal is coming off an unexpected bye, as its game with Stanford was postponed because of poor air quality. The Bears and Cardinal will play on Dec. 1. … The Pac-12 announced its players of the week: UCLA’s Joshua Kelley (offense), Washington State’s Jahad Woods (defense) and Utah’s Matt Gay (special teams).