CU Buffs Spring Football Preview: Offense – Longmont Times-Call
Jackson State quarterback Shedeur Sanders looks for an open receiver during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern University in Jackson, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Offensive coordinator Sean Lewis loves to play fast-paced football.
That doesn’t mean he’s aiming for a passing offense with the Colorado Buffaloes.
Lewis played in Wisconsin, which is known for its toughness and winning fights in the trenches, and that’s still ingrained in him.
On Sunday, new head coach Deion Sanders and the Buffs will begin spring training, and one of the main areas of focus will be establishing a strong running game.
“I mean, where I’ve played, there’s some badger blood in me,” said Lewis, who has spent the last five seasons as head coach at Kent State. “And for the years that we were at Kent State in 2021, we were the No. 3 rushing team in the country, behind only two service academies. So we will manage football.”
Because of this, it was important for Lewis to bring Bill O’Boyle with him to Boulder. O’Boyle was Lewis’ offensive line coach at Kent State and is tasked with putting the buffs in the trenches.
“It goes back to the offensive philosophy and controlling the line of scrimmage,” Lewis said of bringing O’Boyle. “In terms of executing on what we’re going to do, it’s important to have someone who already knows it from the front seven perspective.”
CU have had one of the worst offenses in the country over the past two seasons and look to change that this year.
This spring is important to lay the groundwork, not just in offense, 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 returns across 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 where you can give your staff the opportunity to know the concepts, understand the details and understand the techniques so that it can be taught in a very clean and concise way,” Lewis said , “So that the children can learn it so that they can apply and think quickly, know quickly, act quickly.”
Here’s a position-by-position look at the offense heading into spring:
returnees: Drew Carter, So.; Colton Allen, P. (continue).
Newcomer: Shedeur Sanders, Jr.; Ryan Staub, T-Fri.
Note: Four of the five scholarship quarterbacks from last season are gone, so it’s almost a complete (and much-needed) overhaul. After two stellar seasons at Jackson State, Sanders will be the starter for the Buffs while he’s healthy. Learning to attack and developing as a team captain will be a priority for him this spring. CU also needs to find out if it has a ready-to-play backup on the list. Carter is the only grantee surviving from last year, but he had slipped to the bottom of the depth chart by the end of the season. Dust is a newly enrolled freshman hoping to accelerate his learning process.
returnees: Deion Smith, Sr.; Jayle Stacks, Jr.; Anthony Hankerson, So.; Victor Venn, Mrs.; Charlie Offerdahl, Sun. (continue); Dante Capolungo, P. (continue); Christian Sarem, P. (continue).
Newcomer: Dylan Edwards, T-Fr.; Champion Johnson, Sun. (continue)
Note: Smith led the Buffs in rushing last year (albeit only by 393 yards), and Hankerson showed solid potential as a true rookie. Stacks and Offerdahl also have experience and Venn is hoping to make a name for himself in the first year after an injury-plagued 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 land at the top of the depth chart.
returnees: Montana Lemonious-Craig, Jr.; Ty Robinson, Jr.; Jordyn Tyson, So.; Grant Page, Fr.; Chase Sowell, Mrs.; Michael Harrison, Jr. (on foot); Cole Boscia, P. (proceed); Chernet Estes, P. (continue).
Newcomer: Jimmy Horn Jr., Jr.; Asaad Waseem, T-Fr.; Deuce Roberson, so. (go on); Kaleb Mathis, T-Fr. (move on).
Note: Lemonious-Craig is the best healthy returnee and Horn is one of the most exciting signings and this duo is expected to lead that group this spring. Lemonious-Craig could shine with better quarterback play, while Horn has been one of South Florida’s top receivers for the past two years. Tyson is still recovering from a knee injury but that opens the door for youngsters like Robinson, Page, Sowell and Waseem to turn some heads this spring before half a dozen others join the group in the summer. Cornerback Travis Hunter is also expected to join the receiver this spring.
returnees: Caleb Fauria, So.; Erik Olsen, So.; Louis Passarello, So.; Austin Smith, So.; Zach Courtney, Mrs.; Brady Kopetz, P. (continue).
Newcomer: Seydou Traore, Jr.; Elijah Yelverton, Sun. (continue).
Note: Brady Russell is out of CU after six seasons with the Buffs, but Traore emerges as one of the most intriguing newcomers. He caught 50 passes at Arkansas State last season and already appears to be on good terms with Shedeur Sanders. Fauria, Olsen and Smith are talented young players who need to step up as the buffs try to develop depth here.
returnees: Gerard Christian-Lichtenhan, Jr.; Alex Harkey, Jr.; Jake Wiley, Jr.; Jackson Anderson, So.; Lucas Eckardt, So.; Van Wells, So.; Carter Edwards, Mrs.; Travis Gray, Mrs.; Jack Seavall, Jr. (on foot); Camden Dempsey, So. (continue); Ben Reznik, So. (continue); John Ramirez, P. (continue).
Newcomer: 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 the process. Three starters are back for the Buffs (Christian-Lichtenhan, Wells and Wiley), but nothing is certainly guaranteed after the offense has struggled and the new staff has brought in a ton of experience. Brown (Jackson State), Jatta (Snow College), Washington (Kent State), and Wilty (Iowa Central Community College) were all top-ranked starters at their previous schools last year. This is also a big spring for the rest of the group as the buffs aim to build some depth up front.