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CU Buffs preparing for all possibilities

After ASU game canceled, CU football team unsure if it will play this week

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Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Colorado head Coach Karl Dorrell watches his team go through warmups Saturday at Stanford Stadium in Stanford, Calif.

For now, the Colorado football team doesn’t have anybody to play this week.

Head coach Karl Dorrell said the Buffaloes remain “on high alert” for any possible changes, however.

On Sunday, the Pac-12 Conference announced that CU’s game against Arizona State, scheduled for Saturday at Folsom Field, has been canceled because of COVID-19 issues within the ASU program.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the Buffs (2-0, 2-0 Pac-12) will have a week off, however.

“It’s a year of everything can change day to day,” Dorrell said Monday. “We’re just not going to bat an eye to it and rise to the occasion when we get an opportunity to play and hopefully continue the success we’ve been having.”

Last week, two Pac-12 games – Utah at UCLA and California at ASU – were canceled because of COVID-19 issues at Utah and ASU. The Pac-12 made a last-minute call on Friday to schedule Cal at UCLA for Sunday (UCLA won, 34-10).

If a second Pac-12 game gets canceled this week, it’s possible the Buffs could get paired with another team. Utah has had both games canceled this season. If the Utes have to cancel this week’s game, the Buffs could play at USC this week, rather than on Nov. 28. That would free up CU and USC to reschedule dates with ASU and Utah, respectively, on Nov. 28.

“We just have to see how every conference member, how their health is through the course of this week, because that scenario might show up again,” Dorrell said, referring to the Cal-UCLA matchup. “It could be a conference team, or it could be someone out of conference; I’m not sure. We’ve got to be ready at a moment’s notice.”

Dorrell said the possibility of a nonconference opponent “is being discussed,” but added he’s not involved in those discussions.

“That’s the (athletic directors) and presidents and chancellors and all of that stuff,” he said. “I know there’s a possibility that that might happen. I’m not sure if the conference is willing to do that, but we’re going to explore all options. I know (athletic director) Rick George is going to be exploring every option he has in our disposal to see what happens.”

In September, the Pac-12 announced a conference-only schedule, in part because keeping games within the conference would ensure that all teams have the same COVID-19 testing protocols. Going outside of the conference would not guarantee the same testing standard.

BuffZone.com reached out to the Pac-12 on Monday to ask if the conference would allow CU to seek a nonconference opponent. A Pac-12 spokesperson said, via email, “Our Pac-12 CEO Group previously approved a Conference-only football schedule and that remains the case at this time.”

On Sunday, ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura reported that Pac-12 senior associate commissioner for football operations Merton Hanks told him, regarding nonconference games, “We’ll certainly take a look, I’d imagine.”

As of Monday, at least, it was clear that every option, including the Buffs being idle, is on the table, and Dorrell said CU will be prepared for anything.

“We knew that at some point in time it was going to happen through the course of the season where there’s going to be a no contest, a postponement, a cancellation,” he said. “We try to stay as healthy as (possible); I’m sure all of our conference members are trying to do that. We’ve done a really fabulous job with our health and we’ve got to continue to stay on that path.”

At 2-0, the Buffs have exceeded outside expectations and Dorrell would like to keep the momentum going. Either way, it’ll be a week to get better.

“We’re going to treat this week as a week of really trying to clean up a lot of things that we can do for ourselves, both offensively, defensively and special teams,” Dorrell said.

If the Buffs get the opportunity to play at Pac-12 opponent this week, Dorrell said it won’t be too difficult to prepare because he’s got preliminary scouting reports on all teams in the conference. He acknowledged it would be more difficult to prepare last minute for a nonconference opponent.

Dorrell and the Buffs have rolled with the punches all year, though, and go into this week ready to do it again.

“We’re really taking this a day at a time with not creating a panic opportunity in anything we do,” he said. “Anything and everything can happen and, literally, that’s what our approach will be as we move forward. We’re just going to be ready for anything that comes up and do our best when it does.”