Photo courtesy of Colorado athletics
While there are plenty of bright spots within the depth chart, Karl Dorrell still has a few question marks before they hit the practice field. While he has been blessed with athleticism and speed across the board, some of the most inexperienced parts of the roster come in some of the most important spots.
In the second part of this two-part series, here are three positions groups to be concerned with heading into the 2020 football season:
In Dorrell’s last conference call with the media, he essentially said the quarterback battle is a two-horse race. It will be between junior Tyler Lytle and freshman Brendon Lewis.
Lytle has been a backup quarterback the last two years. He split second-team reps last season with Blake Stenstrom. With Stenstrom entering the transfer portal in early February, it gives Lytle the advantage as the only veteran quarterback on the roster. If Dorrell chooses to go with a safer option, expect Lytle to be that pick.
However, there is a reason why Lytle has been unable to make much headway in the room. Although an injury limited his time late in the season, he still was unable to fully edge out the redshirt freshman Stenstrom. With that, it gives an opening to true freshman Brendon Lewis to take the job.
Lewis, who has already enrolled and been on the ground in Boulder since January, brings mobility to the position that pairs with an accurate arm. While he does not have the experience of Lytle, his explosiveness as a dual-threat player could prove important to a team desperately trying to find a spark at the position for now and the future.
The good news is that whoever ends up starting under center will have a great group of skill positions players around them that will take some of the pressure off. The Buffaloes have had the luxury of putting Steven Montez’s name in sharpie atop the depth chart for three straight seasons. Colorado is now looking to find its next long-term solution.
The cornerback room does not lack any top-end talent. The tandem of Chris Miller and K.J. Trujillo gives the secondary a sense of comfort on the outside. On top of that, Mekhi Blackmon has shown promise in his limited action. Blackmon will be returning from injury this season.
The Buffs saw Davion Taylor and Mikiel Onu graduate after the season. That leaves holes at safety and the star position. While they do have a solid starting tandem as well as potential in Blackmon’s return, Colorado simply has a lot of inexperience in its secondary. Its new starting safety pair – whoever it ends up being – will lack much starting experience, and the depth at the corner will just include true sophomores or freshmen.
Already on the roster is Tarik Luckett. Luckett has shown flashes and could end up being a strong nickel player this season. Colorado has also secured Nigel Bethel, a transfer corner from Miami, but he is sitting a year. After that, it is up to incoming freshman Jaylen Striker to round out the room.
As is the case with all of these position groups of concern, they could very easily reach stardom. This is an athletic defensive backfield, but the problem is it has not had the chance to show itself much. With that being said, Miller and Trujillo are a great pair of corners. Trujillo showed several times last season that he can develop into a shutdown corner. With time, this secondary can grow into a force.
3. Offensive Line
After the 2019 season, the Buffs graduated two starters along the offensive line. That was left tackle Arlington Hambright and center Tim Lynott.
With arguably the two most important positions on the line now up for grabs, it will be interesting to see who jumps at the chance to start. Already on the roster are Frank Fillip and Joshua Jynes. Those two are presumably the front runners at left tackle and center, respectively. However, Colorado has done its due diligence recruiting for these holes with offensive tackle Jake Wray and center Carson Lee already enrolled.
Both Lee and Wray are three-star recruits. They’ll be competing with fairly inexperienced players ahead of them. While the offensive line will seemingly always be a problem for most teams, Dorrell’s staff should find comfort in the depth they have in the room.
Although they are a fairly young squad, it gives them more time to grow together year-over-year. While spring practice being delayed may hurt their chemistry, this is easily a position group that could end up being a strength.
Again, the secondary and offensive lines could very well find themselves as strengths on this team as the season gets closer and they spend more time on the field.
Furthermore, if Brendon Lewis can take control as the starting quarterback of the Colorado Buffaloes in 2020 and beyond, this team will be set. Granted, that is a big if, considering Lewis has been on a college campus for all of three months. Although Dorrell has not fully expressed what his offense will look like, it could be a hybrid scheme of his and Darrin Chiaverini’s knowledge, involving West Coast looks, as well as some spread, sprinkled in. Those are pretty different concepts, but such variety could be beneficial at taking advantage of everyone’s talents.
While every college football team will find themselves with some questions during the offseason, the Buffs could surprise people across the nation this season.