CU Season Preview – Offensive Line

… Previously posted … CU Season Preview: Quarterbacks … CU Season Preview: Running Backs … CU Season Preview: Wide Receivers

Offensive Line


— Seniors: Jeromy Irwin; Gerrad Kough; Jonathan Huckins

— Junior: Josh Kaiser

— Sophomores: Tim Lynott, Jr.; Aaron Haigler; Isaac Miller; Brett Tonz; Dillon Middlemiss; Mo Bandi; Justin Eggers

— Red-shirt freshman: Hunter Vaughn; Colby Pursell (gray-shirt); Chance Lytle (gray-shirt); Jake Moretti; Kolter Smith

— True freshman: Heston Paige; Grant Polley; William Sherman; Casey Roddick

— bold (returning starter) … italicized (walk-on)

By the Numbers (2016 statistics):

Jeromy Irwin … 896 plays … 13 starts at left tackle (missed Arizona game) … Grade: 2.30 … 20 knockdown blocks … 14 touchdown blocks … 15 perfect plays on passing downs

— Gerrad Kough … 669 plays … 11 starts at left guard (missed three games in November) … Grade: 2.35 … 8 knockdown blocks … 10 touchdown blocks … 10 perfect plays on passing downs

Tim Lynott, Jr. … 940 plays … 14 starts at right guard … Grade: 2.40 … 9.5 knockdown blocks … 19 touchdown blocks … 14 perfect plays on passing downs

— Aaron Haigler … 548 plays … seven starts at right tackle … Grade: 2.42 … four knockdown blocks … six touchdown blocks … eight perfect plays on passing downs

Jonathan Huckins … 368 plays … three starts at left guard (replacing Kough in November) … Grade: 2.38 … three knockdown blocks … five touchdown blocks … four perfect plays on passing downs


— CU Offensive line (Athlon) … No. 22 in the nation

Reasons to be excited:

— The Colorado offensive line is both experienced and deep

Colorado has four returning starters along the offensive line, with center Alex Kelley being the only full-time starter from last season who will not return in 2017.

The group of Jeromy Irwin, Gerrad Kough, Tim Lynott and Aaron Haigler teamed up for 45 starts in 2016, with a total of 70 career starts.

That’s experience.

And that’s not counting senior Jonathan Huckins, who is projected to replace Kelley at center, who started three games last season, and has 13 career starts overall.

“I think we have a lot of experience”, Huckins told the Daily Camera. “That’s the one thing that this line is going to be packed full of is experience, but I think experience together is going to be the biggest thing.”

Colorado went from 4-9 in 2015 to 10-4 in 2016, and the offensive line helped pave the way. Phillip Lindsay ran for 1,189 yards, CU’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Rodney Stewart 2010. Yards per rush went up (4.12, compared to 3.75 in 2015), while sacks went down (28, down from 41 in 2015).

Fortunately for the Buff Nation, though, the Buffs are more than five players deep. Kough missed spring practices with an ankle injury, moving Jeromy Irwin from left tackle to left guard. Irwin projects as a guard in the NFL, and may stay there this fall. If that proves to be the case, junior Josh Kaiser, who was named the team’s most improved offensive lineman this spring, could see more playing time.

— The future looks bright as well

With all of that experience up front, one might think that 2017 is a year for underclassmen to sit back and learn.

Not likely.

A trio of sophomores – Isaac Miller, Dillon Middlemiss and Brett Tonz (who moved over from the defensive line) – will provide depth. And two freshmen, Jake Moretti and Grant Polley, may vie for playing time despite their lack of experience with the program.

Head coach Mike MacIntyre likes CU’s options.

“If we can (rotate linemen) this year, we can keep them fresh and fast,” MacIntyre said this spring. “As many plays as we play, that’ll give us an advantage.”

Reasons for concern:

Can CU avoid the injury bug? 

When a team goes from worst-to-first, many things have to go right.

One of those things which went right for the Buffs in 2016 was a lack of injuries along the offensive line, allowing the unit the benefit of knowing what to expect from the man next to him.

As a red-shirt freshman, Tim Lynott, Jr. started every game, while Jeromy Irwin started 13 of 14 games, with Gerrad Kough starting 11 games.

If Colorado can have that threesome each start 10+ games in 2017, it could be another good season.

But there are no guarantees.

Despite the experience, production needs to improve

Athlon has Colorado’s offensive line as the No. 22 unit in the entire nation … very good.

But it’s still only – according to Athlon – the fifth-best offensive line in the Pac-12.

Colorado had it’s first 1,000-yard rusher in six years … but still finished 56th in the nation in rushing – 8th in the Pac-12.

Colorado had a dynamic passing attack in 2016 … but still finished 47th in the nation in passing – 6th in the Pac-12.

Colorado won 10 games in 2016, posting the most win in 15 years … but still finished 51st in the nation in scoring – 7th in the Pac-12.

Not all of that falls upon the offensive line, of course. But with the Colorado defense – down eight starters – projected to take a step back in 2017, it is incumbent upon the offense to be even more efficient and productive.

And that all starts up front.

Bottom Line:

When you have four returning starters along the offensive line, with two of those starters being seniors, and two of those starters being sophomores, you have a good mix.

When you have a senior – with starting experience – ready to take over the fifth starting position, you are in good shape.

When you have a junior and three sophomores ready to step in and contribute, you are content with your depth.

When you have two freshmen who are so talented that they may push senior starters for playing time, you are excited about the future.

There is a great deal to be excited about when you are talking about the Colorado offensive line.

Now it’s up to offensive line coach Klayton Adams, along with co-offensive coordinators Darrin Chiaverini and Brian Lindgren, to get the most out of this group.


2 Replies to “Season Preview – O-Line”

  1. Well hoping for all the positives here.

    Execution of the plays will be critical

    The actual play design scheme and play calling
    Will determine if the Mighty Buffs have an advantage

    Last year the ol pundits said Leavitt was successful because of the experience and talent
    He had.

    Whelp. Here is looking at you CO-offensive coordinators


  2. Conversely, as with the WRs/DBs, Iron sharpens Iron! A good OL will help shape, improve and define the front seven on defense. A good OL bodes well for improving the DL, as well.

    Like they used to say about Bud Wilkinson’s OU Sooners: the best team the OU starters faced every week, was the OU second-teamers during practice!

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