CU Buffs backing Brendon Lewis through struggles

As freshman tries to improve game, Colorado getting backup Drew Carter up to speed

DENVER, CO - September 11, 2021: University of Colorado Boulder's Brendon Lewis runs against Texas A&M's during the September 11, 2021 game at Empower Field in Denver.  (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
DENVER, CO – September 11, 2021: University of Colorado Boulder’s Brendon Lewis runs against Texas A&M’s during the September 11, 2021 game at Empower Field in Denver. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

There isn’t a more glamorous position in sports than being QB1.

Except when QB1 and his team are struggling.

Colorado (1-2) has lost two in a row, including Saturday’s 30-0 defeat against Minnesota, and the offense hasn’t scored in seven quarters. While there are a number of issues within the offense, freshman quarterback Brendon Lewis is the one in the spotlight.

A second-year freshman, Lewis has completed 55.4% of his passes (31-of-56) for 246 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He’s also struggled with his reads and finding open receivers.

“It’s kind of all-encompassing, right now,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said of the issues on offense. “Unfortunately, he’s the one that has the microscope on him and that’s what people are seeing. It’s unfair to him and we all talked about that, and he understands it. But, that’s part of the big boy business of being a quarterback, right?”

It is, but Dorrell and the Buffs are trying to help the 19-year-old Lewis through it as he hears a new level of criticism.

“These guys are young kids, and they haven’t been criticized or had the microscope on them as much as it’s been right now at this level,” Dorrell said. “He’s a tough kid, he’s a fighter. He wants to do so well for his teammates, and his teammates, regardless of what you’re hearing from the outside, his teammates all rally behind him. They all believe in him. They all know what his capabilities are, so they’re very, very encouraging with him.

“You have fans that pay to come watch us play, and if we don’t play well, then they’re gonna point at me, they’re gonna point at whatever area that’s not doing well. We’ve got to take it as men and that’s part of the grown-up part of this business. It is unfortunate for a young player, but he’ll grow from it. He’ll learn from it. … There’s really no easy way to deal with it.”

Meanwhile, the Buffs realize the importance of getting their even younger backup, true freshman Drew Carter, ready. Carter came off the bench on Saturday to play the final two series, going 4-for-8 for 27 yards.

“He did show some glimpse of some positive things, but we’re going to continue to bring his reps along,” Dorrell said. “We’re only repping two guys anyway. We’re going to get him ready to possibly be in there and get a chance to play and we need to bring both these guys along, we really do. I think Drew when he came in, he showed a little bit of a spark, and we’re going to continue to bring that process forward.”

Dorrell said Carter throws the ball well and understands the run game, but needs to progress with understanding the defense and working on his timing.

Miller out for season

The injury bug has hit defensive back Chris Miller again, as Dorrell said the fifth-year junior from Denton, Texas, will miss the rest of the season with an unspecified injury. Miller was injured in the first quarter Saturday.

“I feel so bad for Chris because it seems like most of his career has been something like that,” Dorrell said.

Miller also had season-ending injuries in 2018 (thumb), 2019 (knee) and 2020 (shoulder) and has played in only 13 games during his five seasons with the Buffs.

Dorrell said tackle Max Wray was “dinged” during the Minnesota game and “he’s going to be in protocol because of what he’s dealing with.” Defensive lineman Na’im Rodman left the game with a shoulder injury, but should be OK, Dorrell said.

Johnson to play vs. USC

Dorrell said defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson is on track to make his season debut on Oct. 2 against Southern California.

Johnson, who declared for the NFL Draft in January but was not selected, was reinstated to the roster two weeks ago. He received a waiver to get his final year of eligibility back but has to serve a suspension before he can play in games.

New commit

Shakaun Bowser, a three-star linebacker from Casteel High School in Queen Creek, Ariz., verbally committed to the Buffs for the class of 2022 on Monday.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Bowser visited CU over the summer. He has 14 total scholarship offers, according to, including from Kansas State, Oregon State, Colorado State, Arizona, Arizona State, Iowa State, Kansas, Michigan and Utah.


The Pac-12 announced that CU’s game against USC on Oct. 2 will be slated for a noon kickoff at Folsom Field and it will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network. … Dorrell said tight end Matt Lynch, who spent his first three seasons of college football as a backup quarterback at UCLA, is the Buffs’ emergency quarterback if they have a rash of injuries. “We have given him kind of a small package of things just in case,” Dorrell said.