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BOULDER, CO – December 12, 2020: CU punter, Josh Watts, in Utah game. The Colorado Buffaloes and the Utah Utes played at Folsom Field in Boulder on December 12, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Colorado head football coach Karl Dorrell would prefer punter Josh Watts to be less busy than he’s been so far this year.

Dorrell has no complaints about how Watts is performing, however.

A junior from Australia in his second year with the Buffs (1-2), Watts ranks 10th nationally with an average of 48.78 yards per punt. Eight of his18 punts have traveled at least 50 yards, including a career-best 62-yarder.

“Josh Watts has become a very consistent and very productive player for us,” Dorrell said. “Really, I have to probably give (first-year strength and conditioning coach) Shannon Turley a little bit of credit in that. When I got here last year and (Watts) was punting for us, he had so many soft tissue injuries dealing with his leg; he had groin issues, hamstrings and stuff like that, hip flexors. I think Shannon has done a great job of putting him on a regimen that is really creating better body maintenance for him where he feels great every day.”

As a first-year football player in 2020, Watts averaged 40.89 yards and only three of his 27 punts went 50 yards or more.

“He’s been staying on this routine,” Dorrell said. “He started it after spring practice and so he carried it through the summer and through training camp and he’s playing as consistent and as good as he’s been. A lot of it is because he’s feeling really good.”

CU’s offense struggled to move the ball in last week’s 30-0 loss to Minnesota, leading to Watts punting eight times. Five of them went at least 53 yards.

“When we were backed up deep in our territory, he least put it back to the opposing offense on the other side of the 50,” Dorrell said. “Those are really, really good things that really gave us a chance to try to create some equilibrium in the game.”

Edwards ready for battle

During his weekly press conference with Arizona State media, Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards said he expects a physical test from the Buffs on Saturday night in Tempe, Ariz.

“Very good defense; they don’t allow a lot of points,” Edwards said when asked of his impression of the Buffs. “Offensively, they have a talented group of wide receivers and running backs. The quarterback is similar to the guy we just faced (BYU’s Jaren Hall). He’s got a good arm and can make a lot of plays with his legs.

“They’re a football team that has some talent. They’re big up front on their offensive line. Defensively they’re long. They’ve got a really good secondary. They play a lot of man to man, play a lot of press coverage, so that’s going to be a test for us in the passing game to try to get some guys open. They play very physical. They’re a very physical football team. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

Respect for Herm

Dorrell and Edwards have both spent most of their coaching careers in the NFL. They’ve never worked together, but Dorrell has great respect for the Sun Devils coach.

“Herm is a heck of a football coach,” Dorrell said. “Our path has crossed many times in our careers. I never had a chance to coach with him, but he’s been with a great number of really great coaches. … He’s a great coach, and he’s an even better person. I like Herm a lot.

“I’m sure he’s going to have his team ready to play and my job is obviously to go down there and get this team ready to be confident and be effective and for them to believe that they can go down and win this game. And that’s really what our goal is this week.”

Carter developing

As the Buffs try to get the offense going, true freshman quarterback Drew Carter could become more involved. Receiver Brenden Rice said he’s seeing the young quarterback grow.

“I’m excited to see how he comes up,” Rice said. “He’s been working a little harder in practice. He’s a freshman, so he came in not so serious, didn’t know what the heck’s going on. … Now that he’s started taking things more serious, I’m starting to see him grow up a little and that’s what we need from him.”