CU Buffs’ Karl Dorrell: ‘I have high expectations of this team’

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)

Throughout each of his press conferences or media sessions this year, Karl Dorrell has displayed a very calm and even-keeled demeanor.

Since Dorrell was hired as Colorado’s head football coach in February, some fans have wondered if he lacks the fire and passion to get the Buffs motivated.

A hot start by the 21st-ranked Buffs (4-0, 3-0 Pac-12) has quieted that criticism so far, but during last Saturday’s 24-13 win at Arizona, Dorrell showed there is no doubt he has some fire when it’s needed.

TV cameras caught Dorrell and quarterback Sam Noyer in an animated discussion after Noyer threw a potentially-costly interception in the fourth quarter. Both have said this week there’s no issue between them and it was heat-of-the-moment competitiveness.

Dorrell, however, added more context to that this week, giving some insight into his coaching style.

“I have high expectations of this team and I hold them to it,” he said. “That’s my coaching style. That’s what I’ve done for most of my career, and I think some people … it does surprise young men when I’m not that way in practice, but on game day I’m a different guy.

“Well, I think (after four games) they have a feel of what my expectations are.”

The sideline discussion with Noyer gained attention, but Dorrell said, “I’m going to tell you a matter of fact, it probably will (happen again) if I believe that a player should play at a certain level and my expectation is for him to meet me at that level.”

That goes not only for Noyer, but anyone on the team, Dorrell said.

“I’m not trying to bring people down or tear away their confidence,” he said. “I want them to be more confident of my expectations because that’s what I see in them and they should perform. I want them to raise their level of expectation of themselves because I see them doing things at this level and I think sometimes … a coach needs to do that for the player to understand that, ‘Coaches believe in me that I can do a lot of things very well.’ Sometimes that assurance makes them reach for that next step.

“That’s really the only reason why I do that is because there are expectations that I expect every player – whether you’re an offensive lineman, D-lineman, linebacker, quarterback or receiver, I’m expecting you to play at that level.”

Getting it done

The Buffs have lost some key players on offense and defense due to injuries, but few spots have been harder than the interior of the offensive line.

Despite that, the Buffs are getting good production from the line, and that helped lead to 407 rushing yards against Arizona – CU’s best single-game total since Oct. 12, 2002, at Kansas (427).

At center, the Buffs lost one of their top backups, Austin Johnson, to an injury before the Nov. 7 season opener against UCLA. Against UCLA, starter Colby Pursell went down with an injury and he hasn’t played since. He was replaced by Josh Jynes, who then got injured in practice the next week.

Kary Kutsch, the starter at left guard, then started two games at center, with Chance Lytle sliding into the starting spot at left guard. Then, Kutsch missed the Arizona game after testing positive for COVID-19 (he’s out this week, too), and Lytle suffered a season-ending injury against the Wildcats.

Tackles Will Sherman and Frank Fillip have avoided injury, but are “banged up,” offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue said on CU’s “Buffalo Stampede” show on Thursday.

On the positive side, Jynes was back for Arizona and Pursell could return, as well.

“You’ve got to fight through it,” Rodrigue said. “There’s a difference between an injury and there’s a difference between pain and right now everybody is dealing with a little pain. We’ve got a little Band-Aid, got a little Super Glue. We’re going to put them all back together. They have a lot of heart. They do everything I ask of them and I’m really proud of them.”


This is the fifth time in the last six years going into the CU-Utah game that one of the teams had a chance to win the Pac-12 South division. CU won the South in 2016, While Utah won it in 2018 and 2019. The Buffs have a chance this year. … The Buffs rank sixth nationally in pass efficiency defense (104.96) – a major jump from last year when they ranked 121st (154.68).