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Football notes: Heat on Karl Dorrell after Colorado Buffaloes fall to 0-3

Colorado tight end Austin Smith (82) reaches for a touchdown against Minnesota on Saturday in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Colorado tight end Austin Smith (82) reaches for a touchdown against Minnesota on Saturday in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
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MINNEAPOLIS – Karl Dorrell may not be feeling the heat, but it’s there.

Following Colorado’s latest embarrassment, a 49-7 loss to Minnesota at Huntington Bank Stadium on Saturday, the calls for his firing from the fan base are getting louder.

Even national media is starting to look into what it would cost CU (0-3) to fire Dorrell. The answer to that, basically, is that he would be owed the remainder of his contract, which is roughly around $9 million.

Asked if he’s feeling the heat, Saturday, Dorrell said, “No, I’m more frustrated with the players, because I know that they want it, but we just don’t know how. We don’t know what the how is yet. So we’ve just got to keep pushing the envelope to keep those guys moving forward about finding the how.”

Based on the tone of his answer, it’s believed Dorrell meant he’s frustrated for the players, instead of with them. Regardless, the Buffs are a program that has regressed in Dorrell’s third season.

Following a 4-0 start to his tenure in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season – a start that got the Buffs to the Alamo Bowl and earned Dorrell Pac-12 coach of the year honors – CU is 4-13. Nine of those 13 losses have come by 20 or more points.

“There’s nothing more than we can do right now, quite frankly, then to just get back to hard work in trying to get this to come out of our players,” Dorrell said. “Try to get production, efficiency, execution. We’ve got to get all those things done correctly for us to be as good as we can be, but right now we’re far away from that.”

Rare start

Left guard Van Wells became just the 13th true freshman in CU history to start on the offense line – and the first since Frank Fillip (who lined up at left tackle Saturday) did so on Oct. 27, 2018.

Dorrell and the CU staff made the change to try to spark the offensive line. Jake Wiley, normally the starter at right tackle, sat during the first half. He was replaced by Casey Roddick, the normal starter at left guard.

“Just a change to try to figure out if Casey was the better tackle, which Casey did a pretty good job out there,” Dorrell said. “But then we had some issues inside (during the first half) and then we moved Casey back inside and put Jake out there.”

During the second half, Wells went back to the bench, while Roddick moved to left guard and Wiley to right tackle. Wells was flagged for a pair of false start penalties in the first quarter.

Smith scores

It certainly didn’t mean much in the big picture, but CU’s lone touchdown, with 8:55 to play in the fourth quarter, was a big deal for redshirt freshman tight end Austin Smith.

Not only was it the first career touchdown for Smith, it was his first career catch. Smith caught a pass from JT Shrout and stretched his arms out to get the ball across the goal line for the score.

“Yeah, it was nice to see that,” Dorrell said. “A couple of young guys having a touchdown there, so that was a good point, at least, at the end.”

According to CU, Smith is the 18th known player in CU history to score a touchdown in his first career touch.

Notable

Starting running back Alex Fontenot and slot receiver Chase Penry did not make the trip to Minneapolis, as both are dealing with undisclosed injuries. … Walk-on running back Charlie Offerdahl had career highs in rushing attempts (eight) and yards (55) and picked up five first downs. … In addition to Wells, tight end Caleb Fauria, safety Jeremy Mack and running back Deion Smith made their first career starts. … Linebacker Isaac Hurtado, quarterback Owen McCown and offensive lineman Ben Reznik made their first appearances with CU. … Safety Isaiah Lewis picked off a Minnesota pass, giving him the third interception of his career. … Brendon Lewis has thrown 156 consecutive passes without an interception, the second-longest streak in CU history.

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