DENVER – Throughout the offseason, Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell has often said quarterbacks Brendon Lewis and JT Shrout can help the Buffaloes win.
Despite an injury to Shrout earlier this month, Dorrell still believes both can help the Buffs this season.
During the Pepsi Front Range Huddle at Blake Street Tavern, an event that brings area college football coaches and media together, Dorrell said Lewis is gearing up for his starting debut, but Shrout is embracing a new role in helping the quarterbacks from the sidelines. CU opens the season Sept. 3 at Folsom Field against Northern Colorado (7 p.m., TV: Pac-12 Networks).
Shrout injured his knee on Aug. 14 and is scheduled for surgery on Thursday, Dorrell said. While the injury has been referred to as “significant,” Dorrell said CU remains hopeful that doctors will find it to be less severe than feared.
“(Shrout) said the knee feels good, but it’s all going to be determined (after surgery),” Dorrell said. “We’ll just have to see what happens when they go in there.”
For now, the Buffs are eager to see Lewis debut and for Shrout to serve as a “student coach.”
Lewis is slated to become only the second freshman since 1959 to start the season opener at quarterback for CU. Cody Hawkins was the first to do it, in 2007.
As a true freshman in 2020, Lewis didn’t play until coming off the bench in a 55-23 loss to Texas in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29, and he was impressive, leading the Buffs to all three of their touchdowns.
Dorrell has high expectations for the 6-foot-2, 225-pound dual threat.
“I think he’s going to have a big-time year, but he’s going to do a few freshman things here and there,” Dorrell said. “The bulk of his work is going to be really, really impressive. He’s been throwing the ball very efficiently. He’s dangerous when he gets out of the pocket. He’s a challenging guy to defend.”
Lewis has natural instincts to make plays with his feet and throw on the run, Dorrell said, but the coaches are trying to teach him to work within the offense.
“It’s really trying to manage him and understanding his role,” Dorrell said. “You’re not Superman; just do your role. You’ve got enough good skill around you to kind of let them do what they do; get it to your playmakers. I don’t want him to feel like he’s got to shoulder everything on his back because he doesn’t. We’ve got great runners; we’ve got receivers; we’ve got tight ends that are developing; the line is better. We have some really positive things.”
The Buffs also have an asset in Shrout, even if he can’t play at this point. A transfer from Tennessee who was very much in the competition to start until his injury, Shrout is now in his fourth season of college football.
“We’ve already enlisted JT as being a travel student coach for us,” Dorrell said.”He’s going to be coaching with us and I want him to stay really involved and he has a great relationship with (quarterbacks coach) Langsdorf, too.”
In addition to working with Lewis, Shrout has been asked to help true freshmen Drew Carter get caught up, as Carter is now the top backup.
“He’s all in for that process,” Dorrell said. “I think it’s going to be a good give-and-take relationship that way for those guys to kind of help each other along the way. I think the other part of it is that I want JT to be still in it. I want him to still prepare, even though he’s not playing, but prepare like he is playing. … (It will) keep him locked in, too. I think it’s gonna help him by the time he gets back to really not miss a beat.”