Several major college football programs are winding down their spring practices while a few have already held their spring games. But Colorado is just getting going, and the team will have a busy month of April before their final get-together on the 23rd.
Related: Spring 2022 Pac-12 Power Rankings
The Buffaloes will look to rebound after a 4-8 finish in Karl Dorrell's second season in Boulder, and there are changes aplenty amongst both the staff and the players entering 2022. Here are a few things to watch for during Colorado's spring drills.
5 Storylines to Watch During Colorado's Spring Practice
Brendon Lewis did what was asked of him as a redshirt freshman, as he protected the ball well and didn't make huge mistakes. But he also only completed 58 percent of his throws with an average of just six yards per attempt, a number that tied for last among eligible Pac-12 quarterbacks. Tennessee transfer J.T. Shrout is an intriguing option who could battle Lewis for the starting spot, but he is recovering from a knee injury and may not be full-go the next few weeks.
Brendon Rice and Dimitri Stanley both have transferred out of Colorado. Combined, the two only had 36 receptions, but they were two of the top three wide receiver targets, and Daniel Arias, the leading returning wide receiver, had just 19 catches. Chase Penry and Ty Robinson, two members of the 2021 recruiting class, will be counted on for more production, though the Buffs landed an impactful transfer of their own in R.J. Sneed from Baylor. Those three will get plenty of reps with Lewis this spring.
3. Finding a running back
Or two. The transfer portal also slapped the Buffaloes at the running back position, as leading ground-gainer Jarek Broussard decided to go to Michigan State. Deion Smith and Jayle Stacks are the two returnees who will compete for carries in 2022. Sam Houston transfer Ramon Jefferson is a player who had 1,155 yards and 13 touchdowns at the FCS level and could be the eventual Broussard replacement.
4. Plugging the secondary holes
The defensive backfield is another area where Colorado was ravaged by transfers. Mark Perry, Christian Gonzalez, and Mekhi Blackmon combined for 160 tackles and 12 pass breakups, and all three will be playing elsewhere in 2022. That leaves a bunch of inexperienced players in line for significant playing time bumps. Kaylin Moore, Nikko Reed, Toren Pittman, and Tyrin Taylor are four defensive backs who played a bit last year and will be a bigger part of the rotation this coming year.
5. Rush defense
The front seven is the most proven part of the defense, but that's not saying much, and holding up against the run is something that has to improve this season. In 2021, opponents ran for an average of 178 yards per game on Colorado, and with youth in the secondary, the Buffs have to at least have a formidable rush defense. Despite returning veterans like Quinn Perry, Terrance Lang, and Jalen Sami, there are several pieces that need to be replaced, and new playmakers must emerge during the upcoming practices.
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– Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, covering the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.