UWDP: QB Brendon Lewis has modest statistics on the season, but his 10-3 TD to INT ratio is solid. How has the freshman’s play been overall? How has his pass protection held up this season?
Jack Barsch: Ralphie Report is a pro-Brendon Lewis blog. We LOVE what we’ve seen from the freshman this year. Despite some truly horrific OL play and OC play-calling, Lewis has grown and developed into a decent QB and is brimming with potential. He can make plays with his feet, but he has really shone on deep throws. Lewis has a great deep ball and and make some throws on the move. His protection has gotten demonstrably better since the OL coach was fired mid-season, but it is still not great. He was getting assaulted all year long.
UWDP: Lewis spreads the ball around to a number of targets in the passing game. Tell us about the main threats, Brenden Rice and TE Brady Russell. What has led to the Colorado passing offense being the worst in the Pac-12 this season at 137 YPG?
Jack: Well, there’s a combination of factors. Overall, this offense was historically awful until about two or three weeks ago. The line play was awful up front, the play calling was unimaginative, and CU could not move the ball. Brenden Rice is a great weapon, if he is able to get the ball in his hands, and we are seeing that in the past few games. He’s big, physical, and gets fast in a hurry. Russell is a fifth-year senior who is as dependable as they come. He will never shy away from contact.
UWDP: Jarek Broussard leads the way for a Colorado rushing attack that has been fairly productive. Describe his style. Who else chips in from the RB position? How has the offensive line performed in the running game?
Jack: To answer your last question first, the offensive line was horrendous early in the year but has improved drastically since the personnel change. I know I sound like a broken record, but it is night and day here.
Jarek Broussard is a small back with a surprising amount of power. He hits the whole faster than anyone I’ve seen in the conference and does a great job avoiding contact. He’s quick more than fast and gains a lot of hidden yards. Behind him, you will see Alex Fontenot (a great back himself) take a lot of snaps. Fontenot is a bit larger and has more of a patient running style.
UWDP: Colorado’s defense ranks near the bottom of the conference in most defensive categories. Has it been as bad as the numbers indicate? Any bright spots to speak of? Who are some players on that side of the ball to watch on Saturday?
Jack: Yes, without Nate Landman playing, it has been as bad as the numbers indicate. He is so important to the success of this team. The defense is going through a youth movement right now to prepare that side of the ball for the future, and it is ROUGH to watch sometimes. Carson Wells is a bright spot at OLB, he can rush the passer and cover a little bit. The defensive line as a whole are solid, but they have been let down by the back 7 of this team. Keep an eye on Chrstian Gonzalez at CB, he has NFL potential, and Jalen Sami in the middle. Sami is a legit nose tackle who can disrupt.
UWDP: How is head coach Karl Dorrell faring from the CU fanbase perspective in his first full season?
Jack: Well, we are not that happy. The offense was supposed to be mediocre this year, at the very least. It is not. Dorrell has at least one more year before things start getting toasty, but big changes HAVE to be made for confidence to be restored. He went to a bowl game, a rare feat in Boulder these days, but he has to be able to improve recruiting and hire a good offensive coordinator. Jimmy Lake could not do that, and he was fired. Karl Dorrell has not done that so far, but the CU AD is a bit less flush with cash to make a move.
UWDP: What is your prediction for Saturday’s game?
Jack: I think this will be a disgusting offensive game that no one should watch. In the end, I think UW wins, 23-17, and no one is happy.
Thanks, Jack. Be sure to check out The Ralphie Report for more on the game from the CU point of view.