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Amid COVID-19 concerns, CU Buffs’ Karl Dorrell remains hopeful

Colorado’s new head coach working with staff, players to prepare for next season

BOULDER, CO – FEBRUARY 24, 2020: New CU football coach, Karl Dorrell, is introduce at a press conference in Boulder on February 24, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Nobody knows when, or if, the Colorado Buffaloes will have spring football practices.

At this point, there’s even talk nationally of the college football season being in jeopardy because of concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

CU head coach Karl Dorrell, who was hired Feb. 23, is thinking positively, however, as he, his staff and his team follow stay-in-place orders that have been issued in Colorado and other places around the country.

“This pandemic hits and has put us a little bit behind in terms of not being able to get out on the field, but we’ll deal with this, there’s no question about that,” Dorrell said in a conference call with media Thursday. “The health and safety of our country is at stake and so we need to do what’s right and obviously there’s a lot of stay orders that are going on right now. We’re part of that process, too, but we’re still trying to find a way to be productive.”

Dorrell’s first practice with the Buffs was supposed to be on March 16. When CU originally postponed spring practices, on March 13, it was through at least March 29.

As the new coronavirus has spread, however, local governments have issued stay-in-place orders that go into April. Dorrell said CU has informed its student-athletes that April 10 is the day when “we would reconsider and evaluate where we are as Boulder County, as a nation. … The situation is pretty fluid. They can change (those dates) to be extended. We know that those are possibilities.”

Because of previous head coach Mel Tucker’s sudden departure to Michigan State last month, Dorrell was hired about two months after most teams make coaching changes. He was barely done with assembling his coaching staff when spring football – and sports around the world – were put on hold.

Although he has never been on the field with his new team, Dorrell said he does not view the situation as a detriment to the Buffs.

“I look at it where everybody’s dealing with this,” he said.

Many teams around the country were several practices into spring workouts when postponements hit. CU is one of just three Pac-12 teams that has not had any spring practices, along with Washington and Washington State – ironically, the three teams with new coaches.

“From our perspective, we’re just going to try to maximize whatever chance we get with our players,” he said. “Whether that’s a portion of time in April or May or June, we’ll be prepared for that. We’ll get a chance to quickly implement what we need to get implemented, and still keep our team in shape, keep them strong and excited about playing.

“We’re not going to use any excuses. We want to go out there and put our best foot forward and get our team ready to play our first game when that September date hits.”

At this point, however, it’s unknown how long stay-in-place orders will be in place and whether or not the COVID-19 concerns will impact the football season, which, for CU, begins Sept. 5 with a trip to Colorado State.

“Those (thoughts) have crossed my mind too,” Dorrell said. “It’s hard to fathom (the season not being played, or shortened) at this point, being that we’re still in March. … I know it’s going to take some time for this pandemic to calm down and be under control, I get that, but we’re hoping that it’s not going to affect the season, but there is that possibility. We have to be prepared for any and all things that could happen.

“Our country’s health is more important than anything right now.”

With the hope that the season will be played, Dorrell and the Buffs have continued to prepare.

CU is officially on spring break this week, so the players have had the week off. However, the strength and conditioning staff has given the players adjusted workouts and there’s been a heavy use of Zoom video conferencing to meet as coaches and with players, despite everybody working from home and players being scattered around the country at their homes.

For Dorrell, this isn’t exactly what he had in mind for his first spring on the job. He usually likes to get to the office early and be productive.

“It’s been very unusual for me working out of the house,” he said. “I think it’s more just getting used to your surroundings and using it for a work environment. Each day has gotten better since I’ve been home. I don’t want to get comfortable doing that.”

Notable

Dorrell said there are “no cases (of the virus) involved with anybody that I know of. … We’re in great shape.” … Dorrell said he and his staff have been busy with recruiting and they have continued to stay in contact with players and 2020 signees that have not yet been on campus. … To this point, William Anglen, a defensive back from Cleveland, is the only 2020 signee to ask for a release from his national letter of intent. Anglen asked for his release because of a family illness.