After it looked like the Colorado offense took a giant step forward in the win over Arizona, the Buffs seemingly took an equal step backward on Saturday in the 26-3 loss at Cal.
For Karl Dorrell, it was just one too many times that he saw his offense struggle to get any sort of momentum in a game this season and he finally decided some change was needed as offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue was fired on Monday.
“We just haven’t been able to put it all together on a consistent basis, which brought me to the conclusion that I needed to do something to hopefully give us a new approach and to refocus and reset the button for us as we have these five games remaining,” Dorrell said. “I felt it was the right time to do that, trying to give our players some energy, some redirection and some focus for us to play some better football.”
Dorrell said he already saw some of the impact with the change in practice on Monday.
“So far, so good,” Dorrell said. “I think the players have responded favorably to the change, particularly the offensive line. So we’re going to build going forward to hopefully playing some better games. It was a hard decision. Any time you relieve a coach in the middle of the season it’s a hard decision. I felt that it was the right decision for what we needed to do in terms of redirecting our offensive unit. [Rodrigue] has been a strong contributor for us since he’s been here, particularly last year. It’s just a point in time where we needed some new energy and a new voice.”
Rodrigue joined Dorrell’s staff in February 2020 and was in the final season of his two-year contract.
Quality control assistant William Vlachos, as well as graduate assistant Donovan Williams, will assume Rodrigue’s responsibilities for the rest of the season and will both have an opportunity to showcase their abilities to potentially fill the role on a permanent basis.
Vlachos is a former All-American center at Alabama and has been working with both the offensive and defensive lines this season, while Williams has been assisting the offensive line for the past two seasons. He was a two-year starter on the offensive line during his playing days at Louisiana-Lafayette.
Both pass protection and run blocking have been a struggle for the CU offensive line this season.
Freshman quarterback Brendon Lewis has completed just 54.8% of his passes this season and is averaging 113 passing yards per game.
Even more concerning has been in the run game.
Reigning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year Jarek Broussard hasn’t been nearly as effective as he was in the shortened 2020 season.
The sophomore running back is averaging over two yards per carry less this season as compared to last, but he’s also not seeing nearly the same amount of carries that he did in 2020 simply due to a lack of ability to sustain drives by the CU offense.
There’s only five games left in 2021, this being Dorrell’s first full season at CU, but he’s confident this change will help his team be more consistent offensively as they look to build toward 2022 with this young roster.
“I think it’s fundamentals, it is some scheme too, but it’s also doing some things creatively that are a little bit different,” Dorrell said of what’s been plaguing the offensive line. “The bulk of our offense is still going to be intact, but we’re going to create some new ideas and do some things in a little different manner that I think is going to create a little bit of freshness for those guys up front.”