Football: Winless Colorado Buffs hope for fresh start in Pac-12 play

·4 min read

Sep. 18—MINNEAPOLIS — There's always next week.

For the winless Colorado football team, about the only good thing about the first three games is that none of them count in the Pac-12 standings.

"The first thing I've thought about so far is we get a fresh start next week," running back Deion Smith said after Saturday's 49-7 loss at Minnesota. "You've got conference play. We can go be 1-0 next week and try to build some momentum off there. But for me, it just feels like we've got to have a fresh start, clean slate, start over brand new because that's the only thing that we can do at this point."

Saturday's loss capped what was a miserable nonconference slate for the Buffaloes (0-3). They've been routed by TCU, 38-13; Air Force, 41-10; and Minnesota.

It's been bad enough that on Sunday evening, hours after Arizona State announced the firing of head coach Herm Edwards after a disappointing start, Colorado athletic director Rick George released a statement expressing frustration with his own program. He's not ready to move on from head coach Karl Dorrell, however.

"Like all of you, I have been disappointed to watch our football team struggle this fall, most recently (Saturday) at Minnesota," George wrote to CU supporters. "I know that our coaches and our student-athletes are capable of so much more and that all of you deserve better results.

"I want you to know that I hear you. I recognize and understand your disappointment and frustration and perhaps, even anger. We have not come close to meeting our expectations this season and we own that. I know that coach Dorrell, our coaching and support staff, and our student-athletes are working hard to get us on track, and with conference play starting this Saturday, we hope we all will enjoy a home victory over UCLA.

"Regardless of your feelings right now on Colorado football, I encourage you to continue to support our tremendous football student-athletes, who need your cheers, encouragement and support now, more than ever."

This Saturday, the Buffs will host UCLA (3-0) in the Pac-12 opener at Folsom Field (12 p.m., Pac-12 Network).

It is somewhat of a fresh start, but that's hardly consolation for a CU squad with more to fix than any team in the conference — even Arizona State.

"There's no comfort (in a fresh start)," head coach Karl Dorrell said. "We have to get better. The only way we're gonna get comfortable about anything is if we're playing better. So right now, there's a sense of urgency about just playing more efficiently."

Dorrell, Smith and safety Isaiah Lewis all expressed their surprise that CU has yet to figure out how to play better. There was a collective feeling within the program that the Buffaloes were going to be a good team this year.

"We're not where we want to be and that's obvious, but I will say that we feel like a brotherhood, no matter what happens," Lewis said. "We're continuing to fight. And we know that we're always looking forward and we're gonna fight in the moment, but we're not going to dwell (on mistakes). We make our corrections and then we move forward."

A sixth-year senior, Lewis said the Buffs need "a little more heart."

"When we get punched in the mouth, we need to punch right back," he said. "We're missing that right now.

"We've got a bunch of dogs who are just not letting it loose yet. When we do, I think the results are going to be completely (different), because we're really confident in our defense and offense. We're just not putting the results out there."

Despite the dismal results, Smith said he hasn't lost confidence.

"I know this game is gonna bring adversity, but the only thing we can do is stay positive," he said. "It's tough, but it's the nature of the beast and that's the game. We've just got to be prepared to come in here and work tomorrow and be better next week."

One thing the Buffs have done is work. Dorrell and players have talked about great practices throughout the offseason and through the first three weeks of this season. Lewis said hard work "is not the question" with the Buffs.

Competing on game day, however, has been difficult.

"It's weird to me just because I feel like everything looks different on the inside-out," Smith said. "We do everything well for six days and we get out here on Saturday, and instead of it being like an easy thing and something to where everything's just on all four cylinders, it feels like the hardest day of the week for us."