When Darrin Chiaverini was a player for the Colorado Buffaloes in the 1990s, he was challenged every day by his position coach and offensive coordinator, Karl Dorrell.
Now that Dorrell is the head coach of the Buffs, he challenges Chiaverini in a new way.
Dorrell is heading into his second season as CU’s head coach, with Chiaverini as offensive coordinator.
“I think it’s good on two fronts with me and coach Dorrell,” said Chiaverini, a CU receiver from 1995-98 when Dorrell was an assistant coach. “We know each other on a different level, not just as a coach to a coach. He was my coach and so there’s a trust there. He challenges me. I have to take a look at (aspects of the scheme) and see if it fits who we are offensively. I think that’s a good thing.”
Entering his sixth season on the CU staff, Chiaverini is working with his third different head coach, with Dorrell being the first offensive-minded head coach of that group. That caused a few heated exchanges last season, Chiaverini said, but only in the name of competitiveness and a desire to get better.
Having gone through a season and nearly a full offseason with Dorrell, Chiaverini said working with Dorrell has helped him improve as a coordinator and play-caller.
“I think that it can get frustrating at times but that’s how you grow as a play-caller, to be challenged on certain things,” Chiaverini said. “Karl does a good job of saying, ‘Hey Chev, look at this, or think about this.’ I enjoy it because there will be times in the game where he’ll say, ‘Hey, think about these kinds of things,’ and I know that it’s coming from a place where he’s a former play-caller himself, so it’s a good thing. I enjoy it. I enjoy being challenged.
“At the end of the day, we all know it comes down to scoring points and winning games. We know that and so I enjoy the conversations that we have during the week and I enjoy the conversations that we have on game day.”
Dorrell was hired on Feb. 23, 2020, and led the Buffs to a surprising 4-2 record during a COVID-19 pandemic-shortened season. He was named Pac-12 coach of the year for his efforts.
Chiaverini, who caught 97 passes as a player at CU, knows first-hand what Dorrell is like as a coach and said Dorrell is the type of coach the Buffs need.
“I think his personality overall, he’s got a really calm demeanor,” Chiaverini said. “He’s very thorough in his thought process of how he approaches things from a head coach standpoint.”
Players have responded well to Dorrell, and Chiaverini said the staff has, as well.
“He’s been really good with me,” Chiaverini said. “He allows me to run the offense. He’ll challenge me on some things, but overall, he’s gonna allow his coaches to coach and I think that’s a good thing. I think that’s why you hire a strong staff because you want to let them coach, and let them have their own strengths as far as what they do on their side of the ball. He’s been good about that.
“I think what also is going to help Colorado is Karl has been here before. He knows what it looks like at a high level. He knows where we have to be recruiting, as far as you’ve got to win your state in Colorado, you’ve got to recruit California really, really well; you’ve got to recruit Texas at a high level. I think we’re getting those things back in our blueprint in recruiting and that’s gonna help build the overall stability going forward.”
CU has had two players move on from the program, as tight end Luke Stillwell and defensive lineman Austin Williams are no longer on the roster.
Stillwell, who came to CU from Kilgore Junior College in 2019, played in four games with the Buffs, all in 2019 on special teams. He was injured throughout the 2020 season.
Williams played in all 12 games as a true freshman in 2019, recording five tackles in 190 defensive snaps. Last year, he played on special teams but did not have a snap on defense.
With Stillwell and Williams no longer on the roster, CU is at 89 projected scholarship players for next season, which is the maximum allowed by the NCAA.