HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Colorado’s talented group of receivers has lost one of its veterans for the season.

Junior Maurice Bell suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in a recent workout and will not play during the 2021 campaign.

Bell caught nine passes for 89 yards and a touchdown during the five-game regular season in 2020 and added a 26-yard catch in the Alamo Bowl. He was also CU’s primary kickoff returner last season, with 151 yards in seven returns (21.6-yard average).

Coming into his fifth season with the Buffs out of Murrieta Valley (Calif.) High School, Bell has played in 21 career games with two starts (both in 2020).

Losing Bell takes away from experience and leadership, but the Buffs are still expected to be loaded with talent at receiver.

Sophomore Dimitri Stanley and redshirt freshman La’Vontae Shenault are returning starters. Juniors Daniel Arias and Maurice Bell and freshman Brenden Rice also have experience.

CU also has several freshmen in the room, including Chris Carpenter, Montana Lemonious-Craig, Keith Miller III, Chase Penry and Ty Robinson.

“That group has skill. The receiver group has skill,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. “We continually have to refine that skill where the talent is consistent. They have to grow and have a level of consistency that needs to be better than where it is.”

Football focus

New Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff has made it clear he will put a major emphasis on improving the conference’s position in football.

The Pac-12 has received only two of 28 spots in the seven-year history of the College Football Playoff. Kliavkoff said his focus will be to help the Pac-12 compete for national titles. That message was well received among coaches, including Dorrell.

“The thing that resonates with me that he said that I really liked is he said we’re going to make this a championship program or conference,” Dorrell said. “That’s what I want to hear. I want that expectation from our leader to tell us that this is all about winning championships.

“Those are the things that I think all of us as coaches if we have a commissioner that feels that way, too, we need to have that more relevance and significance in the CFP. That’s what it tells me, is that we need to get more teams involved in that. I think he wants to help that process and do the things that are necessary for us to get into that next step. We’re very encouraged with what he told us. That was a good pep talk he gave us (Monday). We’re very encouraged with the direction we’re headed.”

Rivalry?

For years in the Big Eight/Big 12, CU had an intense rivalry with Nebraska. Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, however, CU has struggled to find a true rival.

Over the course of the past decade, however, a rivalry has started to emerge with another team in red.

“I would say Utah is a big game every year,” Stanley said. “It’s at the end of the season almost every year, a cold game. You’ve got to be ready to play, honestly. Nitty-gritty. It’s a real physical game and it’s usually make or break, kind of, for our season. It’s been the deciding factor for us to either go to a bowl game or not the past couple of years. So I definitely see that as a kind of rivalry game. And I think Dorrell would agree with that.”

Linebacker Nate Landman agrees, adding, “I think it’s just turned into a natural rivalry. Being in the South and priding ourselves on both being physical teams, I think it’s just a hard-nosed game. We both came into the Pac late so it’s kind of one of those natural rivalries.”

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