BUFFS

Coach Prime settles for Pat Shurmur to fill Buffs’ full-time OC job

Jan 16, 2024, 2:13 AM | Updated: 2:15 am

Deion Sanders has told his team what was already the most likely option, Pat Shurmur will be the Colorado Buffaloes’ offensive coordinator in 2024. The news comes from a vlog produced by Sanders’ family, where the head coach told the locker room some coaching changes.

The longtime coach, Shurmur, presumed playcalling duties and was promoted to sharing the job with Sean Lewis halfway through the 2023 season. It was assumed all along that Shurmur would get the gig and even more probable after Lewis got the head job at San Diego State earlier this offseason. Shurmur had been in the acting role of the job, but Sanders didn’t name him the guy, supposedly having Byron Leftwich as an option.

Coach Prime is justified in his apprehension. The Buffs offense has the potential to be one of the best in the country, led by his possible No. 1 overall 2025 NFL Draft pick son Shedeur. Add in Heisman candidate Travis Hunter, a heap of highly-touted wideouts, and a rebuilt offensive line, and Shurmur could be cooking with gas. Though, Shurmur as recently as last year, shows he struggles to spark any offense. Shurmur’s last job before Boulder was a disaster in leading the Broncos offense.

Shurmur’s notable history includes a plethora of mess-ups that may be magnified in the market because it happened in front of our eyes.  The Broncos once carried the ball 16 times for 18 yards, of course, there’s the Kendall Hinton game and the hilarious practicing incompletions. On top of that, Shurmur may have ruined any chance that Drew Lock could become good in orange and blue, 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

Just last year, Sanders was averaging 329.6 passing yards per contest under Lewis. 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. 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.

With a full offseason on the job and new jimmies and joes, maybe Shurmur can find the grove that earned him the 2017 NFL assistant coach of the year. But again, Sanders taking two months to hand him a job which he obviously was going to get the whole time says a lot about the possibility Colorado settled here.

The move opened up some other roles; Brett Bartolone, who was Colorado’s very successful wide receivers coach in 2023, will be moving to tight ends. While Jason Phillips comes in from Jackson State to be the new guy leading the wideouts. Sander is still seeking a defensive coordinator after Charles Kelly left for Auburn.

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