Twice this season, the Colorado football team has geared up to play a Pac-12 opponent that it wound up not ever actually playing.
“The toughest part is it’s not even our fault they got canceled,” outside linebacker Carson Wells.
This week, the Buffs might do it again.
On Sunday, the Pac-12 announced that CU (4-1, 3-1 Pac-12) would play Oregon (3-2, 3-2) on Saturday in Los Angeles. About 24 hours later, on Monday, the Pac-12 announced that Washington was unable to play this week because of COVID-19 issues, and Oregon would replace the Huskies in the conference title game against No. 13 Southern California (5-0, 5-0).
CU currently doesn’t have anybody to play, but the Pac-12 is asking the Buffs to standby in case a spot in the title game opens up. Therefore, the Buffs are preparing for Oregon – and a little bit for USC, just in case – yet may not even play at all.
“It’s not really too fun having to prepare for all this with the uncertainty,” linebacker Akil Jones said, “but we just do what we have to do and get it done. No complaining or anything about it.”
That’s the attitude CU’s players have had about the whole season, which has been difficult on many levels because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Head coach Karl Dorrell has had a “no excuses” approach since the day he was hired in February, and his players have followed his lead.
This week is no different. The Buffs practiced Tuesday not knowing who – or if – they will play this weekend. It’s possible their next and final game will be in a bowl game later this month.
“As a team we move as one, and whatever we agree upon we’re going to stick with it,” Jones said.
The team’s leadership council agreed they’d spend this week preparing in case they get to play, and Jones said, “We’re all buying into it now, so it’s just time to get to work.”
On Monday, athletic director Rick George issued a statement that CU wouldn’t try to find a non-conference opponent this week. Jones said the Buffs’ leadership council played a role in that decision.
“We left it up with our leadership council,” Jones said. “We elected them for a reason to be the voice for the team. They’re gonna make the decisions that best interest us as a whole team.”
Despite a 38-21 loss to Utah on Saturday, the Buffs remained in the College Football Playoff Top 25 on Tuesday, coming in at No. 25.
CU was No. 21 in the CFP rankings last week. The loss to Utah dropped the Buffs out of the Associated Press and Amway Coaches’ polls this week.
Roddick stepping up
During preseason camp, sophomore Casey Roddick earned a starting job at right guard. After an injury to Chance Lytle against Arizona on Dec. 5, Roddick has played the last game and a half at left guard.
Regardless of which side he’s played, Roddick has been a solid performer all season.
“It’s been a lot of fun to just get out there and play with the guys,” he said. “Obviously the offensive line is the most closely-knit group, I think, on this football team, so to be able to go out there every single day and compete with 18 other guys is unlike anything else.”
As the entire team has dealt with adversity and last-minute adjustments, Roddick said the move to left guard was no big deal.
“It just shows that in life you’ve got to be versatile and handle a lot of things that are on your plate,” he said. “You’ve just got to do it to your best of abilities and that’s my goal each and every week, no matter if it’s right guard, left guard, possibly even center. I’ve just got to do what’s on my plate.”
During the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 38-21 loss to Utah, starting quarterback Sam Noyer aggravated a shoulder injury and left the game for four plays.
Backup Tyler Lytle led the Buffs to 28 yards and two first downs, including his own 15-yard run. After that run, however, Noyer went back in the game, despite the sore shoulder. Noyer went 0-for-6 on passes the rest of the game, but Dorrell said he doesn’t question the decision to put the senior back into the game.
“Sam is a battler,” Dorrell said. “He is a competitive player. Our players rally around him and have a lot of confidence in him. The coaching staff has a lot of confidence in him. We are going to keep riding with the guy that has got us to this point. If you ask him, he would tell you the same thing, ‘I am good and ready to go. I am going to do whatever it takes.’ He is that type of player. He will sacrifice himself for this football team.”
Wells has at least three tackles for loss in each of the last four games. He’s the first CU player to do that in four straight games since Butkus Award winner Alfred Williams in 1990. … Jones became a father two weeks ago, with his son being born in New Jersey. “It’s a whole different mindset,” he said. “I think about him every day when I’m away from him and I can’t wait until I get the opportunity to see him, whenever that is. There’s like no other feeling like it. It’s awesome.”