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2021 Colorado Football Preview: Quarterbacks

It’s officially the Brendon Lewis show.

Valero Alamo Bowl - Texas v Colorado Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The offense has so much talent at every skill position. On paper, this is one of the most balanced attacks in a long time. There is one question mark. Unfortunately, the question mark is so big that the dot at the bottom is bigger than the rest of the sentence. That question mark is quarterback. Somehow, someway, this is the first time since 2013 that the Buffaloes will start a quarterback that was not recruited by Mike MacIntyre. Yes, that long ago. Steven Montez is in the past and Sam Noyer is finding success at Oregon State (with the man who recruited him, Brian Lindgren). We are officially, finally, in a new era in the quarterback room. If you look around, that room’s pretty empty.

The entire scholarship quarterback room is these people: Brendon Lewis, J.T. Shrout, Drew Carter. Three freshmen (thanks to some creative COVID eligibility math). By default, Brendon Lewis won the job after Shrout went down with an unfortunate knee injury (his surgery went well). So, we are going to talk about Lewis.

Lewis has not taken many college football snaps, but there is reason to be excited. He showed well against Texas in the 2020 Alamo Bowl, and he took a lot of snaps in spring football for the Buffs. Brendon is a dual-threat quarterback who wants to throw first, which should a familiar archetype for Buff fans at this point. Expect more Sefo Liufau than Darian Hagan. In the aforementioned Alamo Bowl, Lewis had 93 yards passing and 73 yards rushing. Expect his season-long splits to lean more heavily towards passing, but that gives you a good picture of what he is capable of. This is the first time in a long time that CU has gone into a season with 0 QBs on the roster that haven’t taken a snap against Pac-12 opponents. Lewis is going to be fun to watch. I love his smarts and his legs, and that combination can take you really far in college football. His arm seems adequate, but not a rocket, and that’s something I’m totally fine with. Lewis is not the focal point of this offense.

The other man ready to take the job is J.T. Shrout. UNFORTUNATELY FOR EVERYBODY, HE CANNOT TAKE THE JOB IN 2021 DUE TO INJURY. The California gunslinger came to CU-Boulder by way of the Tennessee Volunteers. Shrout played sparingly for the Vols in his freshman year, who started a carousel of QBs over a tumultuous season. Shrout stood out in his short time because of his disgustingly strong arm. Steven Montez had a cannon, but J.T. Shrout has a Howitzer attached to his torso. Similar to Lewis, it’s hard to take any impressions from live fire, but J.T. Shrout definitely did not come out scared in his action. He is not statuesque in the pocket, but he is less of a running threat than Noyer or Lewis. During the spring showcase, Shrout showed some of his arm as he led a few drives with the offense. At 6’5, he is a bit more prototypical of a presence than Lewis, and his #7 can make some long-term CU fans reminisce about John Elway.

Quarterback is the only unit on the Colorado Buffaloes offense with a lot of unknowns. Unfortunately, it is also the most important position on the team, bar-none. Sam Noyer did a good job managing the game for most of the season. In 2021, a game manager is still what the Buffs need. Mediocre QB play will not sink this team. However, Lewis has not shown he can provide that consistently. He also hasn’t shown his ceiling. Because dual-threat quarterbacks can break a defense, and (let’s face it) because they’re more fun to watch, we are excited to watch Lewis cook.