Buffs QB Sam Noyer, coordinator Darrin Chiaverini have CU running to glory

Is that Darrin Chiaverini calling plays up there? Or did somebody invent a time machine, kidnap 2010 Mark Helfrich, and dress him up in CU Buffs gold?

Forget the asterisk: Take a picture.

The unbeaten Buffaloes (2-0) head into Saturday’s hastily-arranged visit from San Diego State leading the Pac-12 in points scored per game (41.5), rushing touchdowns (eight), red-zone scoring percentage (10-for-10, 100%) and touchdowns-in-the-red-zone percentage (9-for-10, 90%).

Take the label off the side of the helmet, just look at the numbers, and you’d think it was Oregon. Right?

“The thing I think our offensive staff has done a tremendous job with, is that they all have a number of areas of expertise that they’ve had success with,” first-year CU head coach Karl Dorrell said earlier this week when asked about the Buffs’ prolific scoring to open this abbreviated season.

“And I think Darrin’s done a really good job of really creating that melting pot of information from a lot of people that have been successful offensively. And (he) really put it together to tailor it for us, in terms of our skill sets for our offensive personnel.”

The Buffs ranked No. 19 nationally in points per offensive drive, according to BCFToys.com, going into their tussle with the Aztecs (3-2). Take out what the site describes as “garbage possessions” — running out the clock at the end of a half or kneeling at end of a game, for instance — and CU is averaging 3.07 points every time the offense takes the field.

Perspective: The site’s been tracking drive data since 2007. Over that stretch, no shock, the Buffs have never ranked among the country’s top 50 most efficient offenses, let alone the top 20. The previous best national ranking was 59th in 2017 (2.12 points per drive).

And, true, it’s just two games. We’re talking about small sample sizes within a season of small sample sizes, a college football campaign unlike any other since 1918. Staggered starts, cancellations, improvisation, and, let’s be frank, conferences doing whatever it takes — duct tape, piano wire, whatever — in order to cash in on the College Football Playoff payoff at the end of the road.

But asterisk or no asterisk, the Buffs have been all kinds of fun to watch whenever they have the ball. And that’s largely because they’ve gotten back to their McCartney Era roots with a 21st century twist — using the run game, and the threat of the quarterback run game, to open up everything else.

Graduate quarterback Sam Noyer heads into the weekend ranked second among Pac-12 signal-callers with more than one appearance in terms of rushing yards per game (50), trailing only the Ducks’ Tyler Shough (65.7 rush yards over three contests).

Paired with whirling dervish tailback Jarek Broussard, who has rushed for a league-best 154 yards per game, Noyer’s package of a big body (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), surprising speed and ability to sell the fake has left UCLA and Stanford defenders guessing. And usually guessing wrong.

“Coach Chev and I have developed our relationship since I’ve been here,” Noyer said recently. “He came in my freshman year (2016). I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with him, learning what he likes, learning his system, and understanding kind of what goes through his mind. And I think he does the same with me.

“And also (quarterbacks) coach (Danny) Langsdorf does a great job … he’s come in here and does a great job of implementing a lot of stuff. I think those two together do a great job of putting me and putting our offense in the best position to win, with their calls and their game plans.”

Langsdorf joined Dorrell’s staff in early March, shortly before the pandemic hit, and brought a load of Pac-12 mileage with him, having served as Mike Riley’s offensive coordinator at Oregon State from 2005-13 and with Riley at Nebraska from 2015-17.

That melting pot of ideas, as Dorrell called it, combined with Chev’s calls on game day, has seen the Buffs zoom out to a 35-14 halftime lead against UCLA and a 35-16 fourth-quarter cushion at Stanford.

“Just to be playing college football right now, in the middle of a global pandemic, is a blessing,” Chiaverini said. “So I’m proud of our players and proud of our coaches. And you don’t take anything for granted anymore with what we’ve gone through this year.”

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