Offensive coordinator Sean Lewis loves to play a fast-paced style of football.
That doesn’t mean he aims to have a pass-happy offense with the Colorado Buffaloes.
Lewis played at Wisconsin, which is known for its toughness and winning battles in the trenches, and that’s still ingrained in him.
On Sunday, new head coach Deion Sanders and the Buffs will begin spring practices and one of the main areas of emphasis will be to establish a strong run game.
“I mean, there’s some Badger blood in me from where I played,” said Lewis, who spent the previous five seasons as the head coach at Kent State. “And the years that we were at Kent State, in 2021, we were the No. 3 rushing team in the country, only behind two service academies. So we’re gonna run the football.”
Doing that made it important for Lewis to bring Bill O’Boyle with him to Boulder. O’Boyle was Lewis’ offensive line coach at Kent State and will be charged with getting the Buffs going in the trenches.
“It goes back to the offensive philosophy and controlling the line of scrimmage,” Lewis said of bringing O’Boyle with him. “In terms of implementing what we’re going to do, to be able to have someone that already knows it from the front seven perspective (is important).”
CU has had one of the worst offenses in the country the past two seasons and is aiming to change that this year.
This spring is important for laying the foundation, not only up front, but for Lewis’ entire offense. Junior Shedeur Sanders – coach Sanders’ son – comes in with a lot of hype as the new starting quarterback and there are intriguing newcomers and returners all over the board.
It’s also a brand new coaching staff, and Lewis is confident it’s a group that can get the Buffs off to a good start offensively.
“We’re fortunate to have a great staff, to where you can empower your staff to know the concepts, to understand the details and the techniques so that it can be taught in a very clean and concise manner,” Lewis said, “so that the kids can learn it, so they can go apply and think fast, know fast, do fast.”
Here’s a position-by-position look at the offense going into the spring:
Returners: Drew Carter, So.; Colton Allen, Fr. (walk-on).
Newcomers: Shedeur Sanders, Jr.; Ryan Staub, T-Fr.
Note: Four of the five scholarship quarterbacks from last season are gone, so it’s almost a full (and much-needed) overhaul. After two stellar seasons at Jackson State, Sanders will be the starter for the Buffs as long as he’s healthy. Learning the offense and developing as a team leader will be priorities for him this spring. CU also has to figure out if it has a game-ready backup on the roster. Carter is the one scholarship holdover from last year, but he had slipped to the bottom of the depth chart by season’s end. Staub is an early enrollee freshman hoping to fast track his learning process.
Returners: Deion Smith, Sr.; Jayle Stacks, Jr.; Anthony Hankerson, So.; Victor Venn, Fr.; Charlie Offerdahl, So. (walk-on); Dante Capolungo, Fr. (walk-on); Christian Sarem, Fr. (walk-on).
Newcomers: Dylan Edwards, T-Fr.; Champion Johnson, So. (walk-on)
Note: Smith led the Buffs in rushing last year (although only with 393 yards) and Hankerson showed solid potential as a true freshman. Stacks and Offerdahl have experience, as well, and Venn is hoping to make his mark after an injury-plagued true freshman year. Most eyes this spring, however, will be on Edwards, a four-star recruit who spurned Notre Dame to sign with the Buffs. He’s a speedster who could wind up atop the depth chart.
Returners: Montana Lemonious-Craig, Jr.; Ty Robinson, Jr.; Jordyn Tyson, So.; Grant Page, Fr.; Chase Sowell, Fr.; Michael Harrison, Jr. (walk-on); Cole Boscia, Fr. (walk-on); Chernet Estes, Fr. (walk-on).
Newcomers: Jimmy Horn Jr., Jr.; Asaad Waseem, T-Fr.; Deuce Roberson, So. (walk-on); Kaleb Mathis, T-Fr. (walk-on).
Note: Lemonious-Craig is the top healthy returner and Horn is one of most the exciting transfers and that duo is expected to lead this group this spring. Lemonious-Craig could shine with better quarterback play, while Horn was one of the top receivers at South Florida the past two years. Tyson is still recovering from a knee injury, but that opens the door for youngsters such as Robinson, Page, Sowell and Waseem to turn some heads this spring before a half dozen others join the group in summer. Cornerback Travis Hunter also figures to be featured at receiver this spring.
Returners: Caleb Fauria, So.; Erik Olsen, So.; Louis Passarello, So.; Austin Smith, So.; Zach Courtney, Fr.; Brady Kopetz, Fr. (walk-on).
Newcomers: Seydou Traore, Jr.; Elijah Yelverton, So. (walk-on).
Note: Brady Russell is no longer at CU after six seasons with the Buffs, but Traore comes in as one of the most intriguing newcomers. He caught 50 passes at Arkansas State last season and appears to already be developing a good rapport with Shedeur Sanders. Fauria, Olsen and Smith are talented young players who need to step up as the Buffs try to develop depth here.
Returners: Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan, Jr.; Alex Harkey, Jr.; Jake Wiley, Jr.; Jackson Anderson, So.; Lucas Eckardt, So.; Van Wells, So.; Carter Edwards, Fr.; Travis Gray, Fr.; Jack Seavall, Jr. (walk-on); Camden Dempsey, So. (walk-on); Ben Reznik, So. (walk-on); John Ramirez, Fr. (walk-on).
Newcomers: Tyler Brown, Jr.; Isaiah Jatta, Jr.; Yousef Mugharbil, So.; Savion Washington, So.; Jack Wilty, So.
Note: CU may not figure out its starting five this spring, but these 15 practices will be huge in that process. Three starters are back for the Buffs (Christian-Lichtenhan, Wells and Wiley), but there’s certainly nothing guaranteed after the offense struggled and the new staff brought in a load of experience. Brown (Jackson State), Jatta (Snow College), Washington (Kent State) and Wilty (Iowa Central Community College) were all quality starters at their previous schools last year. This is a big spring for the rest of the group, too, as the Buffs aim to build some depth up front.