Whether they have an opponent this week or not, the Colorado football team is continuing to work.
“The biggest thing, we want to continue to develop our depth and improve schemes,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. “We can always improve those areas.”
The surging Buffs (2-0) were supposed to host Arizona State (0-1) on Saturday at Folsom Field, but had that game canceled on Sunday because of COVID-19 issues within the ASU program.
Despite the game being canceled, it’s possible the Buffs will find another opponent. It’s also possible they wind up with a bye.
Either way, the work doesn’t stop.
“I’m looking at this season, this fall, as really improving our depth, getting some experience with some certain positions, guys that haven’t played, some of our freshmen that haven’t played,” Dorrell said. “We’re going to need these guys at some point in time over the season, whether it’s because of COVID, whether it’s because of an injury. We want guys that can step in and replace and function very well for us.”
In addition to developing depth, the Buffs have plenty of areas to improve. The defense is last in the Pac-12 in points allowed (37.0), they’ve had too many dropped passes (seven) and have been penalized 15 times in two games.
“We’re going to just focus on shoring up the issues that that we feel are concerns for us in our program,” Dorrell said. “Kind of scratch where it itches, so to speak. There’s an itch here about this getting fixed, we’re gonna address those types of things.”
Another goal for this week is to get healthy.
CU doesn’t give specifics on injuries, but the Buffs have been hit particularly hard at center. Junior starter Colby Pursell was injured during the opener against UCLA and had a walking boot on his right foot last week.
The backup center on the pre-camp depth chart was freshman Austin Johnson, who was injured during camp and has not played this season. Going into the season, sophomore Josh Jynes was the top backup, and he played 26 snaps after Pursell was injured against UCLA. Expected to start last week at Stanford, Jynes suffered an undisclosed injury during practice and didn’t make the trip.
Starting left guard Kary Kutsch moved over to center against Stanford, with walk-on John Deitchman the only other player practicing snaps in pre-game warmups.
“Kary played well,” Dorrell said. “The snaps in the early part of the game were a little bit low and I think he settled in and played really well. We’ve been really very appreciative of Kary because he’s one of our top offensive linemen that have been so consistent.”
In addition to getting healthy at center, the Buffs are hoping tight end Brady Russell and receiver KD Nixon, among others, can return soon. Russell was injured in the first half against Stanford and Nixon has not played yet this season because of a hamstring injury.
“The positive, if we don’t play, is that gives us a week of recovery,” Dorrell said.
Offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said Nixon practiced Tuesday.
“He’s looking better,” Chiaverini said. “A little rusty, but he’ll knock some of that rust off. I feel like he’s starting to get himself back to full speed.”
On the recruiting trail, the Buffs lost a commitment for the 2021 class on Tuesday. Josh Bryan, rated the No. 1 kicker in the country by Chris Sailer Kicking, has decided to give his pledge to Notre Dame.
Bryan, from Sierra Canyon (Calif.) High School, had committed to CU on Aug. 3.
Despite losing Bryan, the Buffs appear to be in good shape for the future at kicker. Sophomore walk-on Evan Price is 11-for-13 on field goals and 16-for-16 on extra points in his career. With this season not counting towards eligibility, Price could play three more seasons after this one.
CU is 10-for-10 in converting red zone opportunities into points (nine touchdowns, one field goal). The Buffs are one of just three teams nationally that have at least 10 red zone trips and a perfect conversion rate, along with Boise State and Wisconsin (both 12-for-12). … Jarek Broussard leads the Pac-12 in rushing, with 308 yards. Since 1957, only two Buffs had led the conference in rushing: Rashaan Salaam (1994, Big Eight) and Chris Brown (2002, Big 12).