In watching NFL and college football so far this year, Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell has noticed some inefficient play at both levels.
An unusual and incomplete offseason, as well as the cancellation of preseason games in the NFL caused by the coronavirus pandemic has played a significant role in that, but as Dorrell prepares his team for the Nov. 7 opener against UCLA, he’s hoping the Buffs can avoid that as much as possible.
“Given COVID and the situation that we are in and how late we got started in getting ready to play, there’s going to be some inconsistencies early on,” he said Friday after the Buffs completed their 12th practice of the preseason, marking the halfway point of camp. “We need to play as efficient as we can, really understanding our systems well, because that’s what I see (in other games), where there’s ill-timed plays or mistakes that are being made.
“We’re really trying to guard against that. I’m not expecting it to be perfect execution at the very beginning of the season, but we believe that each week, as we go forward, our systems and our team should get better and better as we play.”
Dorrell added that playing efficient, clean football is a goal of his for the identity of the CU program under his watch and not just this season.
“Those are the things that I think are important that I see day in and day out that what gets teams in trouble is if they’re not on the same page,” he said. “I want to play clean, high level, great execution football and the best way we can do it with what we have. And that’s really what has got their attention right now.”
To that end, Dorrell said the Buffs spent Thursday’s practice cleaning up some mistakes in short yardage and goal-line situations, as well as two-minute drills with each offensive unit.
“I think both sides (offense and defense) needed it, getting a chance to get those packages cleaned up and ready to go,” he said. “It was good to get that work in.”
For this season, dialing in on the details is “hugely important,” Dorrell said, especially because the team did not have spring practices or a full offseason.
“There’s a sense of urgency that we need to have with coaches, players, our systems,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure that we’re utilizing what’s needed to be used for us to be successful.”
Dorrell said he doesn’t stress over it too much because he doesn’t want that to lead to the players feeling stressed, but, “They know how important it is. … We’re just realists about what our situation is, what needs to be accomplished. For the most part, they’ve been pretty locked in.”
Freshman defensive end Antonio Alfano, who transferred from Alabama in January, still has not practiced because he doesn’t have medical clearance.
“That’s what is frustrating both for him, if you can imagine, and for us, because he still is working through the medical side of getting clearance,” Dorrell said. “He’s doing his schoolwork in terms of what he needs to do from a classroom standpoint, but the biggest hang up right now is just we don’t quite have a handle on his medical situation well enough to be released to practice and to compete right now. So he’s obviously frustrated; we’re frustrated. We’ve got to be patient with the process and hopefully get this thing under wraps.”
Lynch in familiar role
Matt Lynch, a fifth-year senior walk-on tight end from Legacy High School, is in his first year with the Buffs after spending the previous four at UCLA. The former quarterback is filling a role he’s used to, sitting atop the Buffs’ depth chart as the holder on place kicks.
In that role, he’s working again with Chris Reinert, CU’s quality control coach for special teams.
“Coach Reinert was at UCLA my first two years there, so we’ve kind of built a little bit of a relationship and he trusts me there,” Lynch said. “Whatever I can do to help the team I’m all about.”
During a virtual press conference with the Pac-12 this week, left tackle William Sherman said he and the Buffs have gained respect for Dorrell during his eight months on the job.
“One of the biggest things is he’s just really real with you and transparent and honest and that’s big for us,” Sherman said. “All the players here, having three head coaches in four years, trust is a big factor. Coach Dorrell, you can tell he’s the real deal and he has a lot of faith in us and we have a lot of trust and faith in him.”
When the football opened camp Oct. 9, it planned to stay at the Millennium Harvest House hotel for at least two weeks to prevent COVID-19 cases among the team.
On Thursday, CU told BuffZone that the team is now planning to stay at the hotel until at least Nov. 1.
Freshman running back Ashaad Clayton, who had been out with an injury, was back at practice Thursday. “He’s still a little bit gimpy, but he’s working through it,” Dorrell said. … Outside linebacker Joshka Gustav remains out with an ankle sprain, but Dorrell said, “I would say the overall health of our team, given where we are at the halfway point of camp, we’re in pretty good shape.” … The Buffs will have a regular practice Friday and then their second scrimmage of the fall on Saturday.