The time for subtle changes has passed for the Colorado Buffaloes.
BuffZone.com has learned through sources that CU head football coach Karl Dorrell has fired offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue. The move, first reported by Vic Lombardi of Altitude TV, has not been announced or confirmed by CU.
Rodrigue, 56, was in the second year of a two-year contract that was set to expire in February. Per the terms of his contract, Rodrigue is owed the remainder of his $400,000 salary for this year.
It is believed that William Vlachos, a quality control coach on staff, will coach the offensive line the remainder of the season.
The move comes a day after the Buffs (2-5, 1-3 Pac-12) were blown out by California, 26-3, on the road. In that game, the Buffs managed just 35 rushing yards on 28 carries and quarterback Brendon Lewis was sacked six times. Cal had just 10 sacks on the season before facing the Buffs.
CU currently ranks last in the country in yards per game (238.1) and is 125th in scoring (15.1). While Dorrell has often mentioned many factors are involved with the struggles of the offense, the line has had a rough year.
This season, Colorado has given up a Pac-12-worst 22 sacks and the Buffs’ rushing average of 3.29 is 11th in the conference.
Asked after Saturday’s game why the offensive line has struggled so much, Dorrell said, “Can’t quite put a finger on that. I’m trying to figure that out and we’re going to have to really look at that and see what’s going on there but we’ve had some issues up front and I figured that at this point in time we should have some of those things cleared up but apparently we’re still struggling with doing some things. We’ve got to go back and really analyze what our issues are and try to get those things fixed in a hurry.”
Apparently, the first step in fixing those things was to move on from Rodrigue, who was hired on March 4, 2020. A veteran coach with more than 30 years of experience, Rodrigue had never coached at the Power 5 level before coming to CU about 19 months ago.
A graduate of Nicholls State, Rodrigue had spent his entire coaching career in the south, mainly at Southern Mississippi (1999-07), South Alabama (2008-10) and Louisiana (2011-17). After a coaching change at Louisiana after the 2017 season, Rodrigue spent two seasons at Spanish Fort (Ala.) High School before being hired at CU.
In 2020, CU’s offensive line was anchored by left tackle William Sherman and played fairly well. The line allowed just seven sacks in six games in 2020 while paving the way for running back Jarek Broussard to earn Pac-12 offensive player of the year honors.
Sherman declared for the NFL Draft after the 2020 season, but the rest of the group returned. Left tackle Jake Wiley, a third-year freshman, is a new starter, but left guard Kary Kutsch, center Colby Pursell, right guard Casey Roddick and right tackle Frank Fillip are all veterans with starting experience before this year. Veterans Kanan Ray and Chance Lytle have also played quite a bit.
“There has been a lot of guys that have played a lot of football up front, but it’s hard to put a finger on it. It really is,” Dorrell said of the struggles. “I think that’s what we’re gonna have to do as coaches and try to figure out what are our issues and try to get that thing shored up as quickly as we can so that we can get back to hopefully playing some productive football.”
Vlachos joined CU’s staff in 2020 and this year has specialized on defensive blitz and the offensive front. The 33-year-old Vlachos was a first-team All-American center for national champion Alabama in 2011.
Vlachos won two national titles as a player with Alabama and two more as a coach. In 2014, he was a graduate assistant for the Crimson Tide and in 2016 he was a quality control coach.