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Mike Sanford, hired as CU's offensive coordinator this past offseason, has instilled a system that players have taken a liking to. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Mike Sanford, hired as CU’s offensive coordinator this past offseason, has instilled a system that players have taken a liking to. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
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After a dismal 2021 season on offense, Colorado head football coach Karl Dorrell overhauled his coaching staff on that side of the ball.

He also ditched the old playbook.

As the Buffaloes opened preseason camp on Tuesday, Dorrell said the players have adjusted to the new playbook and have so far given positive reviews to the offense being installed by first-year coordinator Mike Sanford and the staff.

“The playbook has changed quite a bit because it is new,” Dorrell said. “It’s completely new terminology, new system of everything because there’s four new coaches on that side. We kind of scratched it and started all over.”

CU ranked 121st nationally in scoring offense, at 18.8 points per game. The Buffs were 129th in yards per game, at 257.6 — the worst average for a CU team since 1964 and the worst for any Power 5 conference team since 2014 (Wake Forest, 216.3).

In addition to Sanford, Dorrell hired Kyle DeVan (line), Phil McGeoghan (receivers) and Clay Patterson (tight ends). Running backs coach Darian Hagan is the only holdover on the offensive staff.

After going through spring and summer with the new offense, Dorrell said the players enjoy it.

“They’re very confident in and excited about it,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of comments from the players offensively; they’re saying, ‘I’m just excited about what our system is and how it works, how we have answers, how we can get to the best play, how we can go fast.’ Those are all the elements I think that I wanted offensively is to be able to push it when I want to and to be able to slow it down when I want to.”

Sophomore quarterback Brendon Lewis, who started all 12 games last year, said the offense isn’t necessarily simpler, but he said it’s “very, very comfortable for me. (Sanford) makes sure to call plays that fit our personality. He’s not just calling plays to call plays. He’s calling plays off certain looks, getting us in the right situations.”

New approach

True sophomore Drew Carter spent last season as the backup quarterback, but didn’t get a lot of playing time. He finished the season 5-for-12 for 35 yards.

This season, Carter said he feels more prepared.

“I feel like I just studied the playbook more, took a different approach than I did last year and I think I did a little more work in the weight room and got my conditioning up,” Carter said. “I think it’s just a maturity thing.”

With JT Shrout injured last year, Lewis and Carter were the only healthy scholarship quarterbacks. This year, Shrout is back and the Buffs added Houston transfer Maddox Kopp and freshman Owen McCown. Carter said the added competition fuels him.

“For sure,” he said. “There’s a lot of people out there and it’s fun. That’s really the best thing about it. You gotta compete against the other guys, but everyone’s biggest competition is themselves. So recognizing that and pushing yourself every day is very important.”

Strong first impression

CU has 23 true freshmen on the roster, but so far there has been a unanimous answer from Dorrell and multiple players when they’ve been asked about which of the youngsters has stood out: receiver Jordyn Tyson.

“He’s really fast and gets out of cuts quick and gets open,” Carter said. “He’s been doing it all summer. He’s been impressing everyone all summer.”

A three-star recruit from Allen (Texas) High School, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Tyson caught 80 passes for 1,512 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Notable

Dorrell said one difference from the past two years is that the Buffs aren’t worried about depth on the practice field. “That’s not even an issue anymore,” he said. “We have four teams that are repping.” … Overall, Dorrell said the entire team had a great summer “and it shows.” … On Tuesday, the Buffs’ offense made some big plays in the passing game, while the defense forced a couple of turnovers. “We’re always going to continue to stress (turnovers), given that’s where we were lacking last year,” he said. … Other than a few “little nicks” the Buffs are relatively healthy, Dorrell said.

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