Pat Shurmur once again fails upward, this time with Prime’s Buffs

Dec 4, 2023, 3:01 PM

Despite having a much improved and top-level offense, in the middle of his first season leading the Colorado Buffaloes, Deion Sanders decided to make some changes to his offensive staff.

Coach Prime downplayed the moves at the time, saying offensive coordinator and now San Deigo State head coach Sean Lewis hadn’t been demoted. And neither had longtime pro and college man, Tight Ends coach Tim Brewster, who had to be moved to an analyst and is now working for Charlotte. The changes were to give Pat Shurmur more opportunity, to talk to players, recruits and calling plays.

The results of Shurmur’s first few games in Boulder were no wins and an offense that took a significant step back. And on top of that, offensive commitments as well as current players, are leaving Boulder in droves. Yet Shurmur is likely to lead Colorado’s offense next year, Sanders told USA Today on Monday. The 58-year-old is expected to become the full offensive coordinator in Boulder.

Shurmur had been at the next level, unsuccessfully coaching the Broncos offense in 2020 and 2021. And Sanders hopes Shurmur can push Shedeur Sanders into the NFL and up Draft boards, all the while protecting him better.

The junior gunslinger shot up NFL Draft mocks in his first season at Colorado and is likely a first-round pick whenever he decides to leave for the NFL Draft. Most expect that to happen in 2025. But Sanders was hit more than any other quarterback in the country, sacked several times a game. This was true of Lewis’ offense and made more true when the signal-caller was injured before the season’s finale in Shurmur’s scheme.

Sanders was averaging 329.6 passing yards per contest under Lewis but CU ranked No. 128 out of 130 FBS programs in rushing offense. Across the team’s final four games where Shurmur called plays, Sanders only threw for 593 yards total and accounted for five of his 27 touchdowns. Colorado went from scoring 227 points through 6.5 games, or about 35 points per 60 minutes to 20 points a game in the final four contests. The issues really started under Lewis, during the second-half collapse of the Stanford game and bled into the next week against UCLA, when he last called plays. Colorado scored just 30 points over 21 possessions after going up 29-0 at halftime against the Cardinal. Still, Shurmur couldn’t correct the issues, and things actually got worse for Sanders and the Buffs run game, which wound up dead last in the nation.

Shurmur’s notable history includes a plethora of mess-ups. The Broncos once carried the ball 16 times for 18 yards, of course, there’s the Kendall Hinton game and the funny practicing incompletions. On top of that, Shurmur may have ruined any chance that Drew Lock would become good, stunning the young quarterback’s development. The Broncos 36.36% winning percentage with Shurmur leading the offense was the worst performance by an offensive coordinator in team history at the time. And that all came after his 19-46 debacle tenures as a head coach, leading the Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants

With Colorado’s eyes set not only on the postseason but the College Football Playoff, Prime’s pick at OC is a big deal, as is the talent acquisition season, which began in earnest on Monday. Shurmur had a short but unsuccessfully shot leading the Buffs offense, but as is the story of his career—he will somehow get an even more secure job next fall.


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