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2021 Colorado college football preview: Who will take over at quarterback for the Buffaloes?

Sam Noyer has transferred out of the program, leaving a void at the sport’s most important position.

Valero Alamo Bowl - Texas v Colorado
Brendon Lewis of the Colorado Buffaloes looks to pass under pressure by DeMarvion Overshown of the Texas Longhorns in the fourth quarter during the Valero Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome on December 29, 2020 in San Antonio, Texas.
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Colorado Buffaloes have steadily risen as a program over the last decade, reaching 10 wins in 2016 under Mike MacIntyre. Colorado has yet to replicate that season in the last few years due to regime changes, but seems to be one of the contenders in the Pac-12 south this season if the quarterback position gets sorted out.

Karl Dorrell took over after one year of Mel Tucker, and was 4-0 to start last season with a chance at a Pac-12 title close. But they lost to Utah to finish the season, and then got dusted by a soon-to-be-fired-anyway Tom Herman and Texas in their bowl game. With so many new coaches struggling out of the gate in 2020, Dorrell seemed to be ahead of the curve.

2020 Season Review

  • 4-2, 3-1, 2nd in Pac-12 South, Lost Alamo Bowl to Texas 55-23
  • Who will play quarterback? Sam Noyer, last season’s top passer, transferred out of the program. JT Shrout, supposedly the starter after coming in from Tennessee, suffered an injury in camp which will cause him to be out indefinitely. Brendon Lewis appears to be the starter now by default.

2021 Talent

2021 247Sports Composite Ranking: 10th in Pac-12
ESPN Returning Production: 83% overall (12th): 86% offense (16th), 81% defense (27th)
Returning Talent Index: Negative, 9th in Pac-12
Returning starters: 7/11 offense, 8/11 defense
* All rankings out of 130 FBS schools

Key Player

Quarterback: Brendon Lewis (Fr.)

Lewis went 6/10 for 95 yards in 2020 and wasn’t expected to play this year, but an injury to Shrout has forced the quarterback into action. Lewis has good weapons offensively and a decent line, but will he be able to step up? If he clicks, the Buffaloes have a shot at the division title. If he doesn’t, Colorado doesn’t have great backup options.

Offense (non-QB): RB Jarek Broussard (So.)

One of the best ways to help an inexperienced quarterback is with the running game and Colorado has that. Broussard averaged 5.7 yards per carry last season and has reportedly looked better this offseason. If he can shoulder most of the offensive workload, the Buffaloes won’t have to put Lewis is tough positions. Broussard’s production will go a long way in determining how the season plays out.

Defense: LB Carson Wells (Jr.)

Wells led the team with 6.5 sacks last season, but also recorded an interception and was strong in pass coverage. He’ll be tasked with anchoring this defensive unit again, which does bring a lot of experience back. If Wells and company can turn up the pressure once again and the running game is strong, this team could be dangerous by the end of the year.

Team Stats Projections

2020 SP+ final: 67th overall: 65th offense, 59th defense, 111th special teams
2021 SP+ projection: 50th overall: 57th offense, 54th defense

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

To win national title: +75000
To win Pac-12: +3500
Win total: 4.5 (Over -113, Under -113)

2020 Against The Spread: 4-2
2020 Point Total: Over 4-2

2021 Colorado Schedule

2021 Colorado Football Schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Friday, Sep. 3 Northern Colorado 9:00pm/Pac12N N/A
Saturday, Sep. 11 Texas A&M at Mile High Stadium 3:30pm/Fox N/A
Saturday, Sep. 18 Minnesota 1:00pm/Pac12N N/A
Saturday, Sep. 25 at Arizona State TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 2 USC TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 9 OPEN TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 16 Arizona TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 23 at California TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 30 at Oregon TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 6 Oregon State TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 13 at UCLA TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 20 Washington TBA N/A
Friday, Nov. 26 at Utah TBA N/A