LOS ANGELES – Colorado linebacker Robert Barnes knows exactly how the media feels about the Buffaloes this year.
“We see where they have us on paper,” Barnes said Friday at Pac-12 media day at the Novo Theater. “But the good thing about it, it’s paper and those teams still have to come play us and they still have to line up across from us. And they’re gonna have to take it, as we’re gonna have to take it from them.”
Coming off a 4-8 season in 2021, the Buffs lost several of their best players to graduation or the transfer portal. It was no surprise when they were projected to finish last in the conference when the Pac-12 preseason media poll was released on Thursday. Many national outlets have published similar projections.
Rather than ignoring the projections, head coach Karl Dorrell said he’ll address them with the team.
“I know there’s little expectation of us this year,” said Dorrell, who is 8-10 in his two seasons at CU. “Obviously, people like us that are in the program, we know what’s there and there’s a lot of people that don’t know.
“I think it’s our best team. Still, we have to go out there and play and prove that we are that type of team. There’s definitely a feeling within our program about, ‘Coach, we’re ready to win. What do we need to do to win?’ That’s the attitude that I haven’t felt in my first two years here. It was more ‘what I was going to do as a player’ instead of ‘what we were going to do as a team to win.’ Now the attitude is what do we need to do to win? I think it’s much better.”
Oddsmakers have the over/under at 3.5 wins for the Buffs this season.
“I expect nothing less than to win a lot of football games this year and it’ll shock all the media, it’ll shock you guys, but it’s not going to shock us,” Barnes said. “We know the preparation we put it in. We know what we have with this team.”
Offensive lineman Casey Roddick added, “I think this team is hungry. There’s a passion that’s been brewing up there since last year.”
On the mend
Two of CU’s highest profile additions were offensive lineman Tommy Brown, a transfer from Alabama, and receiver RJ Sneed, from Baylor.
CU opens preseason camp on Tuesday and both will be nursing injuries. Sneed left the spring showcase early on April 23 with an injury and Brown didn’t play that day. Early this summer, Brown was seen in a social media post on crutches.
“They are not ready right now in terms of being a full participant in practice at the start next week,” Dorrell said. “But we think by the end of camp, they should be practicing and ready to go.”
Overall, Dorrell said the Buffs are relatively healthy, but he is concerned about defensive lineman Janaz Jordan and outside linebacker Alvin Williams. Both are dealing with non-COVID illnesses.
“I’m concerned about their health,” he said. “It’s not whether they can play or not; it’s just, where are they from a health standpoint.”
Confidence in Lewis
As he has done all offseason, Dorrell reiterated that he’s pleased with the progress that sophomore quarterback Brendon Lewis, who started all 12 games last year, has made this offseason.
“There’s no question in my mind and his mind, he’s not even the same player,” Dorrell said. “It’s like anything: you gain from that experience. Whether it’s good or bad, you learn from that experience. That’s what Brendon was able to do. He had a great spring where his efficiency and his numbers, his accuracy in throwing looked much, much better. He continued that into this summer. I’m excited to watch him when we go into training camp next week.”
Dorrell added that junior JT Shrout, who missed the 2021 season with a knee injury, is ready to go and will push for the starting job.
Dorrell said the Buffs have good talent at running back, but that it’s led by Alex Fontenot and Deion Smith as the 1-2 punch. Fontenot is listed at 6 feet and 200 pounds, while Smith is listed at 6-0 and 190, but Dorrell said both are now over 200 pounds, “which is one of those mandates that I wanted them both to be to get a little more muscle and girth. They look better physically.” … Senior linebacker Quinn Perry has had a good offseason, Dorrell said. “He’s doing everything that he should be doing for him to have a successful year,” he said. … Barnes, Dorrell and Roddick all mentioned receiver Jordyn Tyson as the freshman that has impressed the most this summer.