The Colorado football team still has two weeks to prepare for its season opener, but it likely won’t take that long for the Buffaloes to identify their starting quarterback.
On Saturday, the Buffs went through their second scrimmage of the preseason, running 72 offensive plays in about 71 minutes. The battle between senior Sam Noyer and junior Tyler Lytle remains tight, but head coach Karl Dorrell said the staff is nearing a decision on the starter.
True freshman Brendon Lewis also has been competing and getting better.
“We wanted to get a couple good weeks, get some evaluation on everyone that’s involved here,” Dorrell said. “We’re definitely thinking that sometime this week we’ll probably come up with some announcement, but it is close. It’s coming soon.”
The battle to replace three-year starting quarterback Steven Montez – now with the NFL’s Washington Football Team – is one of many battles still ongoing as the Buffs have completed 14 of 24 preseason practices in advance of the Nov. 7 opener against UCLA.
While some starting positions are set, many are not and Dorrell said those battles are all close.
“We’re trying to make our twos to perform at a standard just like our ones and they are rising and accepting the challenge of doing those things,” he said. “It’s still pretty close, but it’s a good close because I think the core of our program has gotten better.”
Defense steps up
The scrimmage was closed to public and the media, but Dorrell and receivers Daniel Arias and Dimitri Stanley all said it wasn’t a great day for the offense.
“Today we were a little more sluggish (than the first scrimmage on Oct. 17),” Stanley said. “But we’re getting better overall. We had an excellent two weeks of camp and I think we’re ready to prepare for UCLA to come in here and it’s going to be a battle and we’re ready for it.”
Dorrell said running back Jaren Mangham had a pair of touchdown runs, while Stanley, receivers Vontae Shenault and Chris Carpenter all had some nice plays, as did tight end Brady Russell. It was the defense that shined, though.
“It was one of those days where I felt the defense stepped up and did a nice job in really containing the offense,” Dorrell said. “I feel great as a head coach knowing that we have a defense that’s gotten better to do those types of things and building off the success that they had late in season last year. It’s good to know that the defense had a pretty good, solid day.”
While Dorrell wants more consistency from the offense, he said the first two weeks of camp have been “a good body of work” for the offense.
Special teams work
In addition to the 72 offensive plays, Dorrell said the Buffs got some live work done for special teams and he called that “critical for returners to feel what that looks like.”
CU hasn’t nailed down who will return punts and kickoffs, but Dorrell said Carpenter, Stanley, receiver Maurice Bell and running back Jarek Broussard are all getting work in that area.
“We feel like we have a good stable of guys to use,” he said.
Dorrell singled out Carpenter, a 6-foot-1, 160-pound true freshman who is “a very electric type of player; tough kid.”
“Don’t judge him by his size,” Dorrell said. “He plays bigger than the size and I like that about him.”
Kicking game solid
Place kicker James Stefanou, entering his fourth year as the starter, and punter Josh Watts, a junior newcomer, have both overcome injuries and looked good in camp, Dorrell said.
“The punts are looking great in Josh’s standpoint,” Dorrell said. “James has been pretty much automatic with all of his stuff in the field goal ranges and then he is doing some kickoffs for us, as well, so he looks good. His leg looks strong. We feel good about what those two guys will bring for us going into the season.”
Dorrell continues to praise the defensive line, which returns all three starters, but is also developing strong depth under first-year coach Chris Wilson. “We’re probably a good two teams of depth of guys that can rotate and play and try to keep us fresh throughout the course of the game,” he said. … CU came out of the scrimmage in good health. “There were no significant injuries or anything like that,” Dorrell said. “We have about 10 practices left to get ourselves ready for the first game and we should be ready in those 10 practices.” … Receiver KD Nixon has had a hamstring injury, but Stanley said Nixon is just about back to full speed. … CU will take the day off Sunday and return to practice on Monday.