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Colorado quarterback Brendon Lewis (No. 12) passes the ball under pressure during a scrimmage at Folsom Field in Boulder on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021.
Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
Colorado quarterback Brendon Lewis (No. 12) passes the ball under pressure during a scrimmage at Folsom Field in Boulder on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021.
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For eight months, Brendon Lewis has been working on his game in anticipation of taking over as the starting quarterback for the Colorado Buffaloes.

His time is almost here and the second-year freshman is ready to roll.

“I’m super excited for this game,” he said. “I’ve been looking forward to it all summer, getting prepared for it. I’m super excited.”

On Friday night, the Buffaloes will host Northern Colorado at Folsom Field (7 p.m., TV: Pac-12 Networks).

For Lewis, it will be his first start since Nov. 29, 2019, when he led Melissa (Texas) High School into a Class 4A Division I regional playoff. The Cardinals lost a thriller that night, 45-42, when La Vega hit a field goal on the last play.

By all accounts, Lewis is a better and more mature quarterback than he was then and many of his coaches and teammates have seen him progress.

“He’s going to be ready,” receiver Dimitri Stanley said. “He’s a game player anyway, and he’s been looking great in practice. So I’m not worried about it. I know he’s gonna ball out.”

Lewis spent most of the offseason battling sophomore JT Shrout for the job, but Shrout injured his knee on Aug. 14. Lewis has taken all of the first-team reps over the past two weeks.

“It was very beneficial,” he said of the extra reps. “I feel like I’ve learned more from getting all of them, not just half, so I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job with it.”

Lewis said the competition made him better, but he just had to keep going when Shrout went down. With the opener quickly approaching, Lewis said he feels comfortable in the offense.

“I feel like I know the playbook like the back of my hand,” he said. “I know everything. I know what to do when I get certain looks and all that, so I feel like I know all the playbook pretty well.”

The playbook includes some quarterback runs, and Lewis is a talented runner. He gained 3,240 yards and 39 touchdowns on the ground during his prep career but knows he has to be smart as a runner now.

“In high school, I was a dude that was trying to run through somebody, but this is not high school,” he said. “I was planning on getting down anyways. I’m going against guys that weigh 230-240; I can’t take that many hits from those big ol’ dudes.”

That’s a lesson he learned from his predecessor, Sam Noyer. Last year, Noyer showed a tendency to leap over defenders or lower his shoulder and take them on. That contributed to him playing much of the 2020 season banged up.

With Shrout injured, the Buffs are thin at quarterback and can’t afford to lose Lewis. He’s heard the message from his coaches to try to avoid contact.

“They’re all trying to relay to me, ‘Don’t try that; obviously, don’t try to hurdle guys, jump over dudes,’” Lewis said. “Slide, get down and get out of bounds … not trying to take too many hits, like Sam did last year. Get down, get out of bounds, get what I can.”

Whether it’s with his feet or his arm, Lewis is hoping to make some big plays for the Buffs on Friday. And, while it’s been a long wait for his turn, he said he doesn’t anticipate being nervous when he runs onto the Folsom Field turf.

“Not really,” he said. “I just try to stay as calm as possible, so when I go into the game, it’s just another day. Just go out there and do me.”

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