Karl Dorrell, if you don’t play Owen McCown at QB for Buffs against UCLA Bruins, next CU football coach will


What are you waiting for, coach? If Karl Dorrell doesn’t play freshman Owen McCown at quarterback against UCLA, it’s a mistake.

CU fans, bless them, need something to cling to. Something to come to Folsom Field for. A reason not to get up and flee after Ralphie runs to glory.

The 2022 Buffs, 0-3 after a 49-7 mashing at the hands of soon-to-be-ranked Minnesota (3-0), are unwatchable. Saturday at Huntington Bank Stadium was a three-hour infomercial of arm tackles, missed blocks, dropped passes and safeties with cartoon tire tracks drawn across their respective belly buttons.

Option A at quarterback, transfer J.T. Shrout (4-of-11 passing, 24 yards, one touchdown), has Drew Lock’s arm and Drew Lock’s pocket presence, with zero clue what’s going on around him or behind him.

Option B, sophomore Brendon Lewis (2-of-6 passing, 14 yards), has no clue what’s in front of him.

Option C, though, is where things get interesting. Yes, McCown looks like he’s about 13. Yes, listing him at 175 pounds might be a tad generous. But privately, scouts and coaches say he’s the future. And given what we’ve seen of Lewis and Shrout’s “battle” for the starting job — a job neither of them seems to want — in the present, why not start the kid’s clock now?

The left-handed teen from Texas in one series — a garbage-time series, granted, with the hosts up 42 and emptying the bench — threw for 52 yards on seven attempts. While Minnesota was engaged, Shrout and Lewis combined for just 38 yards on a 6-for-17 passing day.

After taking a sack on his first Buffs snap, McCown completed his next three throws, including a 15-yarder to Caleb Fauria on fourth-and-2 to the Minnesota 31. McCown fired a rope into Jaylon Jackson on fourth-and-10 for a 28-yard gain to end the game for his fourth completion on seven tries.

The young man’s a project, no question. But in a season that already looks lost — the Buffs’ 30 points after three games is the program’s fewest since 2006, Dan Hawkins’ less-than-epic debut — before it really got started, it’s a project worth revisiting when the Buffs open Pac-12 play against the Bruins next weekend.

McCown aside, Saturday proved to be a waste of a sunny afternoon in the Twin Cities, another embarrassment on national television against a Power-5 “peer.”

We knew this September slate — vs. TCU, at Air Force, at Minnesota, vs. the Bruins — wasn’t made for the timid. It clearly wasn’t made this offense, either, given that this is the first time a CU football team has ever started a season with three consecutive defeats of 25 points or more.

CU athletic director Rick George explained to me recently that the Buffs’ scheduling madness was by design, in order to get the program more appearances on broadcast channels with better saturation. To make a stronger case for the Buffs to network execs — you know, the ones who run the sport — that CU brings eyeballs no matter what league it’s playing in. (Also, because roughly half of the Buffs’ games over the last decade were buried on the Pac-12 Network, where nobody could find them.)

The downside, of course, is when those friendly eyeballs feel as if they’re being poked with a large, pointed stick. Lately, the Buffs’ TV appearances — CU got down 14-0 within the first eight minutes, after trailing 10-0 within the first six minutes at Air Force the weekend prior — have devolved quickly into an exercise in football masochism.


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