Some serious changes have finally taken place within the University of Colorado Boulder’s football program, as they look to win their first game of the season against the California Golden Bears on Saturday. Head coach Karl Dorrell and defensive coordinator Chris Wilson have been relieved of their duties after an 0-5 start, and an energetic interim coaching staff will step in looking to turn the season around.
After Dorrell’s dismissal, offensive coordinator Mike Sanford will step into the head coaching role for the remainder of the season. Sanford, who is currently only in his first season with the Buffs, has occupied the role of head coach of a college football team before. During the 2017-2018 season, Sanford coached the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers to a 6-7 record and a bowl game appearance. This will only be Sanford’s second time behind the helm of a college football team, and it will be the first time he is doing so for a Power 5 team. Despite this, Buffaloes fans are hoping Sanford will be able to translate this experience into some success for the Buffs.
Sanford won’t just be bringing his prior experience with him as he assumes the role of head coach, but he is also bringing a newfound energy that this team hasn’t seen for the duration of the Dorrell era. Sanford has been fired up and extremely energetic all week during practices, which has been a nice change of pace from Dorrell’s cold and calculated demeanor for the past two and a half years. Sanford looks to fully capitalize on this energy to try to pull off an upset on Saturday.
“The bye week [is] in our rearview mirror and now it’s time to look forward to what lies ahead, and that’s family weekend at a highly energetic Folsom Field that we look forward to playing in front of,” Sanford said during his press conference on Tuesday. “We want to surpass that energy from a team perspective in terms of how we play and how our sideline operates, and I think the practices have definitely been reflective of that energy.”
This drastic change of pace and scenery during practice and games might be just what the Buffaloes need to turn this season around, and Sanford is providing that in droves. Dorrell was seemingly uninvolved during practice, as he preferred to take a step back and let his assistants lead the way on drills. During the last two weeks of practice, this has changed completely. Sanford has been hands-on during practice in his short time as head coach, hyping up the players every step along the way. While Dorrell rarely praised any players during practice or games, Sanford has complimented people at every opportunity. Sanford has gone as far as even changing the location of practices, from the lower practice fields to the upper one.
There was a fundamental problem with how the Buffaloes practiced, and it’s clear that Sanford was aware of this. After each game every week, Dorrell would comment about how they had a great week of practice despite getting blown out five weeks in a row. Sanford is trying his absolute best to change the way the Buffs practice to prepare for this week’s game against Cal.
“If we want to fix some of the things that preceded this new start, in the run game and stopping the run, then we’ve gotta practice that way,” said Sanford. “I think the players understood that, [with us] continually giving them the ‘why’ and they’ve been giving us the ‘what’, which is effort, enthusiasm, and intensity.”
The Buffs enter the game on Saturday as 14.5-point underdogs. Will the energetic new coaching and revamped practices translate to the first Buffaloes win of the season? All our questions will be answered when the Buffs face off against Cal at noon this Saturday at Folsom Field. Be sure to tune into the game on the PAC-12 Network.