Colorado’s offense “just needed change,” coach Deion Sanders said after the Buffaloes’ 26-19 home loss to No. 16 Oregon State on Saturday.
The loss dropped Colorado to 4-5 on the season, below .500 for the first time this year.
Last week, Sanders moved analyst Pat Shurmur up to co-offensive coordinator and primary play caller and demoted Sean Lewis to co-offensive coordinator. However, Lewis still has input on play calling. Lewis continued to work with quarterbacks on Saturday and Shurmur is working with the offensive line.
Tight ends coach Tim Brewster, who followed Sanders from Jackson State to Colorado, moved into an off-field role to make room for Shurmur to keep the Buffaloes in compliance with 10 on-field coaches after Sanders’ staff shuffle.
“We’re not going to demean Sean Lewis. We’re not going to take that tone,” Sanders said. “Sean is a good man; I think he is a good play caller. We just needed change at the time. We needed to try something else at the time, and that’s what we did. I don’t look back on it. I don’t second-guess myself whatsoever, because there’s more to it than what you may know.”
Sanders declined to offer more detail on the decision but said Shurmur and Dennis Thurman, quality control director for defense, are both heavily involved in coaches meetings and have been valuable advisors during the season.
Shurmur served as offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos in 2020-21 and wasn’t on a coaching staff in 2022. Shurmur was coach of the New York Giants in 2020-21 and the Cleveland Browns in 2011-12. He went 19-46 in his four seasons as a coach. Before this season, he hadn’t coached in college football since 1998, when he was Stanford’s offensive line coach.
Lewis coached Kent State for five seasons before leaving his post to join Sanders’ staff as offensive coordinator. In his final four seasons, Lewis was 18-10 in the MAC and 22-21 overall before bringing his up-tempo, spread offense to Boulder. Now, after just eight games, Sanders made a change at offensive play caller.
Why Sean Lewis left Kent State to be Deion Sanders’ OC
The Buffaloes scored just three points and had 78 yards in the game’s first three quarters, but scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter for a late rally that came up short. Quarterback Shedeur Sanders was sacked four times and had to go to the locker room in the second half for treatment before returning. Colorado started the season 3-0 and scored at least 35 points in five of its first seven games but has struggled to protect Sanders and run the ball all season. Sanders has been sacked 46 times this season, and only Old Dominion has allowed more sacks.
The Buffaloes also rank last nationally in yards per carry, at 2.3.
In Saturday’s loss, Colorado’s running backs ran for 31 yards on 11 carries. Sanders urged trust in the process after the game.
“I’m not going to disclose all my thoughts, man — my thoughts are my thoughts,” Sanders said. “Just know that I made the decision and I don’t stumble or stutter on it, and I’m not looking back. It is what it is, and that’s what it’s going to be. I make a decision to help this team win. You guys don’t know all the intangibles yet. You’re just looking from the outside of the crib, looking in.
“I got tinted windows and you can’t even see in the house, but you’re making conclusions on what I should and should not do.”
(Photo: Chet Strange / USA Today)