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CU Buffs’ Brendon Lewis in ‘driver’s seat’ in QB competition

Head coach Karl Dorrell said incumbent starter has responded well to competition

BOULDER, CO-April 9, 2022: Quarterback, Brendon ...
Quarterback, Brendon Lewis, during the University of Colorado Boulder football scrimmage on April 9, 2022. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff photographer)

With the season opener still seven weeks away, Colorado head football coach Karl Dorrell isn’t naming a starting quarterback yet.

He made it clear Wednesday, however, that it’s Brendon Lewis’ job to lose.

Speaking at a media roundtable at Colorado National Golf Club, Dorrell said the competition to start will be ongoing but, “B-Lew is in the driver’s seat.

“He was our starter a year ago. We can’t discredit that. I mean, someone’s gonna have to beat him out. That’s the flat truth.”

Lewis, now a sophomore, started all 12 games in 2021, but struggled at times. He was 11th in the Pac-12 in passer rating (118.82), and 12th in completion percentage (58.0) and passing yards per game (128.3).

Overall, he threw for 1,540 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also threw just three interceptions – the lowest total among the starters in the conference.

Lewis displayed his toughness, fighting through a year in which the offensive line struggled. He was sacked 31 times but still ran for 188 yards and two touchdowns.

“He knows he’s got a job to hang on to and he knows he’s got to continue to get better,” Dorrell said. “And he knows that there’s people nipping at his heels, so it’s great competition, but he’s in the driver’s seat.”

Last year, Lewis went into preseason camp battling with JT Shrout for the starting job. Shrout, however, suffered a season-ending knee injury midway through camp. Shrout, a junior, was limited in spring, but is now full-go, Dorrell said.

Sophomore Drew Carter and Houston transfer Maddox Kopp are also expected to compete for the job this fall.

This offseason, Dorrell has seen Lewis respond “very well” to the competition.

“He’s taken his own initiative,” Dorrell said. “He does a lot of extra work on his own. He does extra work when people don’t even know he’s doing it right now. That’s what you want your quarterbacks to be doing. They’re starting to realize that commitment level. … There are players (on the team) that are doing a lot of extra stuff because they’re anticipating great, great years for themselves.”

Dorrell said all the quarterbacks are now wearing braces on their front leg (left for right-handed quarterbacks, right for left-handed quarterbacks) to help prevent serious injuries.

Focused on 2022

A couple of weeks ago, Southern California and UCLA announced their intention to move from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten in 2024. Asked about that news, Dorrell said he doesn’t concern himself too much with that right now.

“It’s a difficult scenario that I think we’re all trying to navigate right now, but I leave that to (athletic director Rick George) to worry about because I’ve gotta coach a football team regardless of what conference,” he said. “I’m getting ready for TCU, getting this team ready for Sept. 2.”

Dorrell grew up in the Los Angeles area, is a graduate of UCLA and played receiver for the Bruins. He was also their head coach from 2003-07. He said it feels “really, really weird” that UCLA and USC won’t be in the Pac-12 in two years.

“It’s been since the 1920s that both of those programs have been in the Pac-8 to the Pac-10 and to the Pac-12, and now it’s back down to the Pac-10,” he said. “So, it is a little bit of an interesting dynamic. I don’t know really what I’m feeling, other than that it seems weird to me.”

Added responsibility

Dorrell recently promoted receivers coach Phil McGeoghan, who was hired in January, to assistant head coach.

“There’s gonna be more responsibilities,” Dorrell said. “If you want to be a head coach someday or a coordinator someday, that’s my job is to help train him with the ability to do that. He does have those skills. He’s a great communicator, very passionate about what he does, a good family man, very smart, works at his trade. …  There’s going to be some responsibilities that I’ll give him to do to groom him to be in a management position.”

Notes

Dorrell, guard Casey Roddick and linebacker Robert Barnes are slated to represent CU at Pac-12 media day on July 29 in Los Angeles. … CU players are scheduled to report for preseason camp on Aug. 1, with the first practice on Aug. 2.

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