AIR FORCE ACADEMY – At the start of preseason camp last month, Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell made it clear that the competition to start at quarterback was a two-man race.
Following a second-consecutive blowout loss on Saturday, Dorrell hinted that job competition might get more crowded.
“We have to continue to develop that position and maybe we need to look at some of these younger guys, too — younger than our younger guys,” Dorrell said after Saturday’s 41-10 loss to Air Force at Falcon Stadium. “It is what it is, but it’s a challenge right now. We need a spark. … We need a spark.”
Sophomore Brendon Lewis won the starting job in preseason camp, but threw for only 78 yards and led the Buffs to six points during a season-opening 38-13 loss at home to TCU.
Lewis’ streak of 13 consecutive starts ended Saturday, as Dorrell went with junior JT Shrout. Against TCU, Shrout flashed his ability in coming off the bench to throw for 157 yards and a touchdown.
Against Air Force, Shrout went 5-for-21 for 51 yards and an interception, and nearly had three other passes picked off.
Dorrell kept Shrout in for the entire game, because he felt Shrout, who missed all of 2021, needed the work.
“Obviously he didn’t play as well as he expected himself to play and he needs a lot of work,” Dorrell said. “I think that was really the right thing to do was just to keep grinding on him, just so we can get a good evaluation of what we think he is. We’ll get a chance to watch the tape and visit about what we need to do moving forward. … (Shrout) hasn’t played in two years and he needs to learn how to play again.”
As the Buffs look ahead to a trip to Minnesota next week, however, it’s unclear if they’ll go with Lewis, Shrout, or perhaps someone else.
“We have a third in (true freshman) Owen McCown, too, and (sophomore) Drew Carter,” Dorrell said. “We’re going to have to really continue to kind of find somebody that can give us a spark. We’re going to continue to work on that position, as well.”
CU safety Trevor Woods was flagged for targeting on the second play of the second half and ejected from the game.
“It hurt a lot as you saw,” Dorrell said. “When he came out, he’s one of our oldest safeties as a sophomore. Then we played a couple other guys after him, but he had a really good game up to that point.”
Per the rule book, Woods would have to sit out the first half of next week’s game at Minnesota, as well. However, new to 2022 is a rule that could allow CU to appeal. The Pac-12 could submit a request to the NCAA national coordinator of officials to review the play. If it’s deemed that Woods should not have been penalized, he could be cleared to play the first half at Minnesota.
CU lost its other starting safety, Isaiah Lewis, to injury, but Dorrell said Lewis would be OK and that there weren’t any major injuries for the Buffs.
Air Force’s powerful run game didn’t have any problems against the Buffs on Saturday.
A week after racking up 582 yards on the ground against Northern Iowa, Air Force had 435 yards and five touchdowns on 70 carries (6.2 average) against the Buffs. That includes a 39-yard loss on a bad snap when Air Force lined up to punt in the second half.
“Where do we start?” Dorrell said when asked what was most difficult about the Falcons’ run game. “It was everything. I mean, they got us on the perimeter quite a bit, and then they started hitting us inside at times to kind of keep us off balance.”
CU did find some success at times, but Air Force finished with 11 runs of at least 10 yards, including three runs of 40 or more.
“I think at times we tackled well,” Dorrell said. “We had a couple of really good shots, good turnovers and good plays. We didn’t tackle well consistently enough. If we tackled better throughout the game it might have shored up a lot of those issues. But we didn’t tackle well enough, I would say from a complete game standpoint.”
Kicker Cole Becker hit a 41-yard field goal in the second quarter to improve to 3-for-3 on field goal attempts this season. Becker is also 2-for-2 on extra points and has put all seven of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks…Shrout, freshman receiver Jordyn Tyson and linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo made their first starts at CU…Receiver Daniel Arias led the Buffs with two catches for 36 yards. The rest of the team the three catches for 15 yards…As a team, CU had thrown 183 consecutive passes without an interception until Shrout was picked off on the first play of the second quarter.