With a week off, Colorado’s coaching staff made some changes to the offense.
Whether it’s enough to spark the struggling Buffaloes remains to be seen.
Head coach Karl Dorrell didn’t announce any drastic changes Monday, and offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini will continue to call plays, but Dorrell hopes enough was done during the bye week to help CU (1-4, 0-2 Pac-12) end a four-game losing streak on Saturday against Arizona (0-5, 0-2).
“Hopefully the changes we made are going to help us play more efficient and effective football,” Dorrell said without going into detail about the changes. “We addressed a lot of things: coaches’ roles in terms of what the expectations are, the expectations we set for our players. Both sides, the coaching side of it and the player side of it, they’ve owned up that we can be better. So far so good with that mindset of addressing the issues that are in front of us. We are moving forward with the subtle changes that we did make.”
In the 130-team Football Bowl Subdivision, CU ranks 129th in scoring offense (13.8 points per game) and total offense (239.6 yards per game). The Buffs have managed just 34 points in the last four games combined.
Despite the struggles and the calls from several fans to move on from Chiaverini, Dorrell is sticking by his OC for now.
“There’s no change in terms of the dynamics of what we’re doing offensively or defensively in their roles from a play-calling standpoint,” Dorrell said. “It’s just a detail of how we’re prepping our guys. We’ve done some adjustments that way with giving more responsibility to other people on the staff from a preparation standpoint. But, in terms of the play-calling stuff, it’s still going to remain the same.”
Dorrell said the Buffs had a good practice Monday and had good practices last week, as the team tries to get back on track and fix the issues — on offense and defense.
“Went through really an emphasis of trying to clear up a lot of detail, a lot of issues,” Dorrell said. “We felt like we’ve made some ground in a lot of ways. They had good energy (Monday) with great focus about attacking this week.”
Putting together good practices has never really been an issue for the Buffs, however. Dorrell has often praised the Buffs after practices. How to translate that to game day is the task in front of the Buffs.
In particular, that’s the goal for freshman quarterback Brendon Lewis, who has struggled through his first season as the starter. He has completed 53.3% of his passes (48-of-90) for 475 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“It’s just the attention to the detail of we’re trying to make sure it transfers from practice to the game,” Dorrell said of Lewis. “That’s the only way I know — and that’s in both levels of football (NFL and college) — is to play better in practice; it usually translates to playing better on game day.
“He did make some steps of improvement even in the game that we lost against USC (on Oct. 2), but we need to play better there. We need to play better in our protection and our run systems; blocking on the perimeter; picking up blitzes with our running backs. So there’s a number of things that we really addressed over the bye week that I felt we made some progress with.”
Dorrell said the Buffs have struggled to finish plays on offense and defense, but made progress with some competitive practices over the past week.
“We do believe it’s going to help us play (better) on Saturdays,” he said.
CU opponent glance: Arizona Wildcats
Game time: Saturday, 1:30 p.m., at Folsom Field in Boulder
TV: Pac-12 Network
Coach: Jedd Fisch, 1st season (0-5, 1-6 career)
Record: 0-5, 0-2 Pac-12
Last week: Lost to UCLA at home, 34-16
Notable: Arizona is looking to snap a school-record losing streak of 17 games. The Wildcats’ last win came in Boulder, a 35-30 victory on Oct. 5, 2019. … After that win against CU in 2019, Arizona was 4-1, but lost its last seven games of the season. … The Wildcats have lost quarterback Jordan McCloud for the season with knee and ankle injuries. The sophomore, who transferred from South Florida, threw for 481 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions while rushing for 75 yards this season. … Arizona has scored 19 points or less in eight consecutive games, dating back to last season. That includes a 24-13 loss at home to CU on Dec. 5, 2020. … Since November of 2017, Arizona is 2-17 outside of Tucson (including the 2019 win in Boulder). … Prior to this year, Fisch’s only head coaching experience came in an interim role in 2017, when he led UCLA to a win in its season finale and a loss in the Cactus Bowl.