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Buffs’ football notes: Eliminating poor starts on Colorado agenda

Minnesota linebacker Braelen Oliver (14) knocks the ball from Colorado quarterback J.T. Shrout (5) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Minnesota linebacker Braelen Oliver (14) knocks the ball from Colorado quarterback J.T. Shrout (5) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
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An 0-3 start to the season has exposed a long list of issues with the Colorado football team.

One particular area of emphasis for the Buffaloes this week as they prepare to host UCLA on Saturday at Folsom Field (noon, Pac-12 Networks) is getting out of the gates quicker than they’ve done in recent weeks.

In Saturday’s 49-7 loss at Minnesota, the Buffs gave up a touchdown on the Gophers’ first possession, then lost a fumble on their own first play on offense, and gave up another touchdown two plays later.

A week earlier, in a 41-10 loss at Air Force, the Buffs lost a fumble on the second play of the game. The Falcons scored a touchdown on the next play and then took a 10-0 lead just a few minutes later.

“Obviously, two turnovers in the first series offensively in the last two games is unacceptable,” head coach Karl Dorrell said. “No team would want to ever start that way. We don’t charge and work throughout the week to put that type of performance out there at the start of games, so that has to be addressed and that will be addressed.”

Dorrell even joked, “I don’t care if I have to do a quarterback sneak on the first play just to make sure that we don’t fumble the ball.

“We’ve got to make sure we have better starts.”

Poor starts in each of the last two games have buried the Buffs early and they never fully recovered. Dorrell is hopeful that a good start can spark the Buffs to a better overall performance.

“When we do those things I think our team will settle in and play complementary football if we can start the games better,” he said.

BOULDER, Colo. -- Colorado's live mascot, Ralphie, eats grain from the Stanley Cup at Folsom Field on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. The NHL's Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in June. A former CU sports information student who works with the Avalanche arranged to have the iconic trophy visit the campus. (John Snelson/Colorado Athletics)
BOULDER, Colo. — Colorado’s live mascot, Ralphie, eats grain from the Stanley Cup at Folsom Field on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. The NHL’s Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in June. A former CU sports information student who works with the Avalanche arranged to have the iconic trophy visit the campus. (Lexi Hartmann/Colorado Athletics)

QB conundrum

Dorrell was pleased with how true freshman quarterback Owen McCown played in his brief debut on Saturday, coming off the bench to play CU’s final 12 snaps on offense. And, he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of McCown earning the starting job.

Sophomore Brendon Lewis started the opener, while junior JT Shrout has started the last two games. Shrout and Lewis rotated series on Saturday.

“(McCown) played well. I was very encouraged by that,” Dorrell said. “We know that we’re going to turn over every stone about this quarterback position in trying to figure out what’s best for us moving forward.

“(Rotating QBs) wasn’t a very effective way, because they both couldn’t quite engineer the consistency that we’re looking for. But Owen did come in late in the game and he did well. I thought he did really well. So we’ll keep bringing everyone along in that room. We’re at a point offensively we’re trying to find that spark that all of them are capable of providing for us, but they haven’t done it yet.”

Notable

Running back Alex Fontenot and receiver Chase Penry both missed Saturday’s game with injuries. Dorrell said, “Those guys are coming along. I’m not sure what their status will be (for Saturday). They’re still limited with what they can do right now but we’ll see at the end of the week with how that progresses.” Dorrell added there were no significant injuries from the Minnesota game. … On Monday, the Pac-12 announced that CU’s game at Arizona on Oct. 1 will kick off at 7:30 p.m. MDT and be televised by the Pac-12 Network. … A former CU sports information student now working for the champion Colorado Avalanche arranged for the Stanley Cup to be at CU on Monday. CU staff members were able to take pictures with the Cup. Live mascot Ralphie also took photos with the iconic trophy and ate some grain out of the Cup.

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