When JT Shrout went down with a season-ending knee injury on Aug. 14, the Colorado Buffaloes knew that Brendon Lewis would be their guy to run the offense.
Three games into the season, though, the Buffs are still trying to get Lewis going.
In Saturday’s 30-0 loss to Minnesota, Lewis completed 8-of-16 passes for 55 yards, was sacked four times, lost a fumble and continues to struggle reading the field.
“He’s having a hard time,” head coach Karl Dorrell said. “I’ve got to watch it and see it and talk to him and see what he’s seeing and tell me what he’s seeing and all that stuff, but he’s struggling out there.”
This season, Lewis is 31-for-56 (55.4%) for 246 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He’s been sacked seven times and has 93 rushing yards.
“We’ve got to be better in coaching him and getting him prepared,” Dorrell said. “We have to do a number of things better. We’ve got to start all over. We’ve got to figure out what we can do well. It’s really at that point now.”
Throughout the offseason, coaches praised Lewis’ skill set and the leaps he had taken from last season when he played in just one game. That one game, the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29, showed glimpses of greatness. Coming off the bench, he led the Buffs to three touchdowns in the 55-23 loss.
So far this year, Lewis has led the Buffs to six touchdowns in three games – and zero points in the last seven quarters.
Shrout and Lewis were in a battle for the starting job until Shrout’s injury. Without him, the Buffs have very little experience at quarterback. The only healthy scholarship quarterback behind Lewis is true freshman Drew Carter, and it’s been clear from Dorrell’s comments this season that they don’t view Carter as being ready.
That could change in a hurry, though. Carter came into Saturday’s game in the fourth quarter, after the Gophers took a 23-0 lead.
Carter played the final two series of the game, going 4-for-8 for 27 yards and a team-high nine rushing yards.
Dorrell said the coaching staff considered Carter earlier in the game.
“We did mention it from time to time and even at halftime,” Dorrell said. “We want to continue to bring him along. He did do some positive things out there. We’re young at that spot, unfortunately for us. We’re still gonna turn over every stone and we’re gonna figure out what to do and it might mean he does get a chance to get some series in games now just because he might be able to create a spark. We may have to do that.
“We were doing a little bit of that last year with Tyler Lytle and Sam Noyer. We may have to just start bringing him along with having Brendon be the guy. So there’s a lot of scenarios like that we’re going to need to discuss and kind of iron out.”
Outside of Lewis and Carter, the Buffs have two other healthy quarterbacks, both of them freshman walk-ons: Jordan Woolverton and James Mott.