After going down with an injury during the first quarter of Saturday’s 35-32 win at Stanford, Colorado tight end Brady Russell spent several minutes trying to get back into the game.
Russell didn’t return and likely won’t see the field until after Thanksgiving.
On Wednesday, CU head coach Karl Dorrell said Russell “is going to miss some significant time – at least a couple of weeks, probably.”
Dorrell doesn’t give injury specifics, but said Russell has a “lower leg injury.” Russell, who caught a career-high five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown in the opener against UCLA, was injured on CU’s fourth offensive snap against Stanford.
CU has four other tight ends on scholarship, but junior Jared Poplawski, sophomore Luke Stillwell and freshman Caleb Fauria are also injured and freshman Louis Passarello hasn’t dressed for either game.
That leaves the Buffs with four walk-ons, including senior Matt Lynch, a transfer from UCLA. Lynch has played roughly half of CU’s offensive snaps this season, mostly as a blocker. He’s also caught two passes for seven yards.
After Russell’s injury, sophomore C.J. Schmanski played about two dozen snaps and junior Nico Magri played a handful of snaps. Senior Nick Fisher has played on special teams, but not on offense.
“We’re next man up,” Dorrell said. “It’s going to be the guys that are in our depth that we’re going to try to continue to bring forward so that they’re able to play effectively for us the next time we’re out.”
In addition to tight end, the Buffs are dealing with depth issues at center.
Junior starter Colby Pursell, sophomore Josh Jynes, redshirt freshman Austin Johnson and true freshman Carson Lee all missed the Stanford game. Left guard Kary Kutsch moved to center, while walk-on John Deitchman practiced snaps in warm-ups.
Dorrell said it’s possible they get some centers back next week.
“Colby still a question mark, but I would think Josh Jynes would probably be back in the fold next week so we end up having another center that we can use,” Dorrell said.
Lee could also be back next week and several of the guards work on snaps a bit.
“We feel like we’re going to be in better shape going into the next game than we were going into Stanford,” Dorrell said.
Room for improvement
CU is allowing a Pac-12-worst 37.0 points per game, but Dorrell said he’s seen enough good things in the first two games to believe the group can turn the corner soon.
“I do believe that,” he said. “I felt there was great improvement from what we saw in the UCLA game going into the Stanford game. The big plays were not as many in this last game. There’s definitely some things we need to continue to work on and fix and the youth of the secondary positions are getting some extra work this week to help shore up those things.”
CU has been tough against the run and the Buffs like the talent in the secondary. Dorrell also believes in the coaches are getting more comfortable.
“We’re getting more familiar with what our players can do,” he said. “That’s one thing, from a coaching staff perspective, after watching a couple games on tape and we’re getting a chance to look at every single player, we’re going to tailor our defense to the things that I think our players do well and play well and understand.”