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BOULDER, CO – November 7, 2020: Colorado head football coach Karl Dorrell watches his team during the season opener against UCLA at Folsom Field. (University of Colorado Athletics)

After more than eight months of preparing for his first game as the Colorado head football coach, Karl Dorrell got to celebrate a victory in his debut.

He didn’t take long to turn the page.

On Monday, two days after the Buffaloes’ 48-42 win against UCLA in the coronavirus pandemic-delayed season opener, Dorrell reviewed the win with media, but also turned his focus on the Buffs’ next task. The unbeaten Buffs (1-0) visit Stanford (0-1) on Saturday (1:30 p.m., TV: ESPN2).

“It’s a good start for us,” Dorrell said. “Definitely have a lot of issues to correct in all phases. … We’re looking forward to another opportunity this weekend.”

Offensively, the Buffs were more productive than expected. Despite having a new starter at quarterback (Sam Noyer) and missing their top returning rusher (Alex Fontenot) and receiver (KD Nixon) from a year ago because of injuries, the Buffs hit the 48-point mark for just the fourth time in 83 games against Pac-12 opponents since joining the conference in 2011.

Noyer threw for 257 yards and a touchdown; Jarek Broussard ran for 187 yards and three scores; and eight different receivers caught passes. The Buffs scored on eight of 15 possessions (not counting the end-of-game kneel downs) and they were 7-for-7 in the red zone, with six touchdowns.

Dorrell wasn’t surprised the Buffs were so crisp.

BOULDER, CO – November 7, 2020: Colorado linebacker Carson Wells, left, is hit by UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson after Wells intercepted a pass in the first quarter at Folsom Field. (University of Colorado Athletics)

“We have a high standard right from the very beginning,” he said. “We felt that we have good coaches, good players. Our players have done a great job with their training and with their time and studying our systems that allowed us to be productive this past Saturday.”

Dorrell also praised the play calling by offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini, who is back in that role for the first time since 2018.

“I think Darren’s had a really good start,” Dorrell said. “I thought he called a really, really good game.”

Defensively, the Buffs set the tone by forcing four first-half turnovers and turning those into 21 points, but it was far from a polished effort. The Buffs gave up 478 yards and were burned repeatedly by big plays. UCLA got on a roll and scored touchdowns on four of six second-half possessions.

“They got back in the game and we had to settle down, and our players did settle down and executed a little bit better, had a couple of really important fourth down stops in the fourth quarter that helped solidify the game for us offensively,” Dorrell said.

After CU built a 35-7 lead, UCLA scored on plays of 52, 65, 15, 26 and 9 yards. In the last 35 minutes, UCLA had 14 plays of 10 yards or more.

“I know we had some coverage mistakes in a couple of places that allowed some big plays,” Dorrell said. “We’re going to address those issues and try to get those things fixed for this coming week. There’s no question Stanford has seen all that; it’s on tape. So we have a pretty good agenda in front of us to try to get a lot of things cleaned up.”

There isn’t much time to do that, but Dorrell said he’s happy to return to the in-season routine.

“Now we’re into our normal game season rhythm, so that’s good to have that process going,” he said.

Of course, this year that routine isn’t exactly normal. COVID-19 remains a challenge and each day brings uncertainty about whether the game will even be played.

“You can’t get too far ahead of your skis, just because of the COVID thing,” Dorrell said. “You have to really treat each day of the week as if anything and everything can happen. We have (COVID-19) tests every day and you’re always crossing your fingers about who’s going to get infected by it and then (who will be impacted by contact tracing). There’s so much more that’s on all the coaches’ plate right now, other than football.”

A new challenge this week is going on the road for the first time during the pandemic. CU has stayed healthy so far, but Dorrell said there will be “extra testing protocol” this week as they prepare to go to California, which has strict health ordinances in place.

“We’re just hopeful that we can continue to play, to continue to stay healthy and move forward to week two of the season,” Dorrell said.

Dorrell has reminded his team about Wisconsin, which won its opener on Oct. 23, but hasn’t played since, canceling two games because of an outbreak.

“We’re trying to educate them along the way as we go and march through this season,” Dorrell said. “My approach with the team is that it’s day to day. Things change. Our circumstances could change, so we just have to roll with the punches as we roll out each day of the week.”

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