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Insights on the Early Signing Day and Offensive Coordinator Hire

Insights on the Early Signing Day and Offensive Coordinator Hire
By TrevMon • Issue #18 • View online
This issues analyze focus on two big recent events in Buff Nation.
  1. Highlights on Early Signing Day - Dorrell and staff gout out into the real-life recruiting trail for the first time amidst a changing landscape shaped by NIL money and ripple effects from coaching changes.
  2. CU hires an offensive coordinator - the hire clashed with the wisdom of twittershphere, but new coordinator has a track record and checks some important boxes.

Signing Day Highlights
Buffs signed 19 players to letters of intent on Dec 15 and will likely add another seven by fall either through portal or by signing a few more on Feb 2.
Solid ratings from top to bottom. The class currently ranks well amongst the Pac12, at least by Rivals (#4) and 247 (#6), although oN3 consensus (#9). Buff average is player grades at 85.42, which is below the Pac12 average of 87.2. The spread from worst to first is tight (STDEV = 1.93). Although USC is on a roll, and will likely surpass the Buffs and many others by Feb 2.
Georgia on their mind - Aubrey Smith (LB) and speedy Victor Venn (RB) from Buford defeated Langston Hughes and Xavier Smith (S) in the 6A state championship. All three are coming to Boulder. Smith is
It’s a family affair with legacy signees Travis Gray (OT), and Oakie Saleve'a (ATH) sons of Lamar Gray (RB) and Okland Salave'a (DL) respectively who played for CU in the 90s. Oakie will wear #8 in honor of the late Buff’s legend Sal Aunese. Karl also convinced Owen McCown (QB from TX), the son of former UCLA and NFL veteran Cade McCown who played under Karl at UCLA. Owen has great arm, form, impressive statistics and is mobile.
Coach Meat is building something in the Back 7, he pulled in some prototype corners in Joshua Wiggins, Simeon Harris who are long, and athletic, + Keyshon Mills who was discovered at 7 on 7 tourney. Coach Maxie has Dylan Dixon (S), the highest ranker in the class and has day one ready frame. Safeties Xavier Smith and Oakie Salave'a are athletic and both played QB (Oakie will rep at QB for starters)
Don’t sleep on the Wideouts Jordyn Tyson and Chase Sowell top underrated players in Texas according to two recruiting experts who cover the state (Cole Patterson: DeAngelo Blair). Grant Page was a signing day surprise flip from Nebraska, it helped that his Mom works at CU. Buff also got a Tight End, Zach Courtney is a 6-6, all-around athlete from, TX, he will factor in special teams early.
Strong and agile on the edge, Coach Michalowski has a knack for finding OLBs with length and speed. He has three long and swift types in this class, 6-5 Kayden Ludwick looks most impressive on film. 6-4 Eogan Kerry is the Buff highest rated edge recruit. Kerry decommitted from Texas late, and Shakaun Bowser is high rated 3* OLB from AZ who can run.
Send supplies in the trenches, only two offensive lineman (Carter Edwards (T); Travis Gray (T) were signed. Buff currently only have three scholarship Tackles. Aaron Austin (DL) is the lone signee in the defensive trench. He is undersized but has a tenacious speed rush. Expect Buffs to work the portal for seasoned talent that has chance to compete in Spring.
Biggest disappointments were Kenny Soares, a talented LB that flipped to Northwestern at the 11th hour. Buffs also missed out on Samuel Okunlula (DL, Pitt) and Jayden Ott (RB, Cal) who announced chose Cal. Karl spoke to grade school students of Ott’s Mom, which was a nice touch.
Six signees will early enroll in January for spring practice, including Salave'a, Gray, Page, Kerry, punter Ashton Logan and cornerback Joshua Wiggins + JC transfer linebacker Isaac Hurtado
Hope is still alive for 4* Safety Larry Turner-Gooden who will announce on Jan 1. Buffs are in the hunt for Andrew Paul (RB) a fast and powerful RB who finished strong in his senior season. Coach Meat’s son Cole Martin is a 4* could be an early commit to the Buffs 23 class. Cole will also announce Jan 1.
Texas pipeline delivers: Almost half of the class hails from the Lone Star state.
Times are changing: the early signing period drives the coaching carousel and NIL is changing the game as rich programs get richer. NCAA may move the early signing period to the summer, and add some rules and tools to level the playing field in the wild west.
Check out the 2021 Colorado Signing Day special on Youtube to learn more and see videos on the 2021 class.
Buffs Hire New Offensive Coordinator
Mike Sanford was the late Friday reveal. The online reaction to the hiring of Mike Sanford was full of vinegar and vitriol as the Twitterverse tends to be.
The right man for the job? Sanford is a young, but a savvy veteran of 17 years. Sanford was not retained as OC after two years at Minnesota (20-21), he was previously coordinator at Utah State (2019), Notre Dame (15-16), Boise State (14) and head coach at Western Kentucky (17-18). Earlier in career, he coached QBs/RBs/WRs at Stanford, Yale, and UNLV. Check out Neil Wouelk’s post for more on his career accomplishments.
Sanford checked all boxes on my wish list: (1) alignment with KD’s vision of a productive balanced attack (2) extensive play calling experience (3) knows the QB hotspots, has recruited TX/CA and coached QBs throughout his career (4) runs an adjacent offense to current scheme to accelerate learning curve.
If Sanford’s past is predictive of future, expect a balanced offense that is strong in trenches, perhaps in the mold of the physical and balanced Stanford offenses that won three Pac12 titles, where Sanford served (2011-13) alongside current strength and conditioning coach Shannon Turley.
His OC experience by the numbers:
2014 - Boise St: Pff-Off rank 14 PASS: 64.5 RUN: 75.7 || Rushing S&P: rank 13 | Passing S&P: rank 3
2015 - Notre Dame: PFF-OFF: Rank 18; PASS 80.6 RUN: 79.5 || Off. S&P+: rank 33
2016 - Notre Dame: PFF-OFF: 52; PASS:67.8 RUN: 67.5 || Rushing S&P 35 Passing S&P 80
2019 - Utah State: PFF- OFF: rank 80; PASS: 77.2 RUN: 71.9
2020 - Minnesota: PFF-OFF rank 22; PASS: 69.8, RUN: 83.5
2021 -Minnesota: PFF-OFF rank 7 (?); PASS: 75.6, RUN: 80.9 || F+: .88 (rank 22),
All told, over the course of his OC career, the average PFF rank of his offenses is 32. His offenses grade above average in both Pass (72.5) and Run (76.5) categories in PFF. The SP+ rank averaged over the years is 32 in FBS, F+ averages at 35. Bottom line, his offenses are also generally above average over the course of his career by the power ratings.
Note: 78-68 = above average in PFF grade, I reference PFF, and S&P plus because they are composite metrics that cover several dimensions and a more robust measures of performance.
Initial Verdict: Karl has much at stake in this hire. I think he made a wise choice, particular over the fan favorite, who has a much sparser body of work and has not yet called plays at Power 5 level. Karl knows what he wants, and he found someone with a track record of delivering it at a high level in Sanford.
Look for Sanford to install an offense that aligns better with Karl’s vision of a balanced attack, that produces above average results in pass and run, and is characterized by…
  • Physicality up front
  • Keeping the ball out of opponents hands
  • Balanced attack, hedged toward run
  • Multiple, Pro-Style, creative power running, RPO etc
Sanford will inherit a historically poor offense that finished in the bottom of FBS in most statistics, however, Buff’s did perform surprisingly well some key factors that are usually predictive of success… (1) finishing drives (set school record for scoring percentage in red zone; (2) elite play in special teams (top five nationally); and (3) elite in turnovers (lowest in Power-5).
Sanford will have talent in the RB and WR rooms, and a very young QB room that had only two healthy scholarship QBs in 21. He will need to fill key gaps on the interior line, Purcell ©, Kutch (LG) , but he has a room of bodies who have have experience on the interior (Roddick, Ray, Lytle, Jynes). He really needs to bring in a few Tackles, and a QB who can compete and provide depth in the off-season.
Looking forward to Sanford and Karl’s next moves, like hiring a WR and OL coach. Who will they bring in at Tackle and QB? Will they use VR to accelerate QB reads, how will Sanford work with Turley to bring conditioning and altitude into the new milieu?
Happy Holidays!
@trevmon28
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