DENVER – With the season opener only nine days away, Colorado head football coach Karl Dorrell doesn’t have much concern about his team being ready.
On Wednesday during the Pepsi Front Range Huddle at Blake Street Tavern, Dorrell said his team is focused as it prepares for the Sept. 3 opener against Northern Colorado at Folsom Field.
“This team is maturing,” Dorrell said. “They’re understanding the ramp up now. They’re understanding what it should look like a week from now, and they’re not using any measurements. That’s the other thing we talked about is, I don’t care who we play the first game; it’s really important that we play at a standard that we expect.
“We’re gonna make sure we’re prepared. We’re going to play and do the things we’re expecting to do. And then we have to continue to build on that as we go through the season. This team has bought into that. It’s because we have seen some good senior leaders. I’ve got Brady Russell and Colby Pursell on the offense and I have, obviously Nate (Landman) on defense and Carson Wells and Terrance Lang. Those guys are all very vocal about the process and it’s really completely changed the complexion of this football team.”
When the Front Range Huddle was scheduled weeks ago, Wednesday was slated to be an off day for the Buffs. A scheduling change had the Buffs on the field, however, forcing Dorrell to leave without a third of practice to go. What he saw Wednesday and Tuesday, however, impressed him.
Both practices were “heavy” and filled with situational football and competitiveness.
“The team had a solid day (Tuesday) and today they were even better,” Dorrell said. “I saw some really high-level stuff on both sides of the ball.”
Dorrell said there isn’t a major area of concern, but that between now and Sept. 3 the Buffs will fine-tune their game.
“It’s making sure we’re understanding how we adjust to formations (on defense),” Dorrell said. “Offensively it’s really trying to create that identity and part of that identity won’t be built until we actually start playing and (quarterback Brendon Lewis) has a few games under his belt. We’ll start to figure out really what our identity is offensively. We don’t know quite what that’s going to look like yet.”
CU feels better about its depth on the offensive line than it did a year ago, but the depth has been tested at tackle this month.
Frank Fillip, a returning starter at right tackle, has been out since the spring with a shoulder injury. The Buffs are hopeful that he’ll be back at some point in September.
Sophomore Max Wray, a transfer from Ohio State, is projected to start at left tackle, but he’s been battling a sore shoulder lately, too. He did return to practice Wednesday, however.
“It’s just muscle soreness, but he’s fine,” Dorrell said.
With some potential depth issues at tackle, the Buffs are having all their tackles work on the right and left sides so they are ready if needed.
Jake Wiley has had a good camp and appears to be in line to start the season. Freshman Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan, nicknamed “Tank,” has “done some really good things,” as well, Dorrell said. Chance Lytle, who played guard last year, has worked at tackle, as well.
This week, the Buffs added walk-on quarterback James Mott to the roster. A 6-foot, 195-pound redshirt freshman who played the 2019 season at the University of Chicago, Mott practiced with the Buffs on Wednesday.
“He’s going to give us some depth,” Dorrell said. “He would probably be more in a scout role until he gets caught up offensively, but, yeah, he’s a good little player. I like him. I was watching him a little bit today. He’s got a good arm. He reminds me a little bit of (former CU quarterback) Mike Moschetti. It’s a quality pickup.”