Spring Practices … First Look: Offensive Line

Program Note … Spring practices will begin February 16th (Spring Game: March 17th). Leading up to spring ball, previews will be posted for each unit of the 2018 Colorado roster.

Previously posted: QuarterbacksWide ReceiversTight Ends/FullbacksRunning Backs … Up next: Defensive Line

The roster: 

Players lost … Jonathan Huckins (36 career games; 21 starts) … Jeromy Irwin (46 career games; 36 starts) … Gerrad Kough (43 career games; 35 starts)

OFFENSIVE LINE (17 scholarship):

Seniors: Josh Kaiser
Juniors: Aaron Haigler; Tim Lynott; Dillon Middlemiss; Isaac Miller; Brett Tonz
Sophomores: Hunter Vaughn
Redshirt freshmen: Chance Lytle; Jacob Moretti; Heston Paige; Grant Polley; Colby Pursell; William Sherman
True freshmen: Frank Fillip; Josh Jynes; Casey Roddick; Kanan Ray

The stats (2017):

Aaron Haigler … Played in 11 games … 763 snaps … 10 touchdown blocks … 15 perfect plays on passing touchdowns … 5 1/2 sacks allowed

Tim Lynott … Played in 10 games … 709 snaps … 11 touchdown blocks … 15 perfect plays on passing touchdowns … 3 1/2 sacks allowed

Josh Kaiser … Played in nine games … 418 snaps … three touchdown blocks … five perfect plays on passing touchdowns … 4 1/2 sacks allowed

Isaac Miller … Played in nine games … 390 snaps … seven touchdown blocks … eight perfect plays on passing touchdowns … two sacks allowed

Brett Tonz … Played in three games … 63 snaps … one pressure allowed


On paper, the offensive line entered the 2017 season in good shape.

In CU’s 2016 season, the line helped to produce decent, if not spectacular numbers – 56th in the nation in rushing offense; 47th in total offense; 51st in scoring offense. Four starters returned for the 2017 campaign, with another player with playing experience, Josh Kaiser, joining what had the looks of being a dominant group.

With a dynamic quarterback in Steven Montez, a proven 1,000-yard rusher in Phillip Lindsay, and a stable of quality of talented receivers, the Colorado offense was set to take off in 2017.

Except that it didn’t.

In 2017, Colorado finished 74th in rushing offense, 48th in total offense, and 81st in scoring offense. While there was plenty of blame to go around, the Buff offensive line took a noticeable step back. The Buffs were 123rd in the nation in sacks allowed, permitting 39 in 12 games.

And now three offensive line starters are gone.

All you need to know about the concerns of the CU coaching staff as to the status of the 2018 offensive line is how hard the coaches have been working on getting a senior transfer to come to Boulder.

While the search goes on for additional help, spring practices will be a quest by offensive line coach (and newly appointed co-offensive coordinator) Klayton Adams to find the best five players for September 1st.

The usual suspects:

— Tim Lynott … As injuries and lack of production forced numerous lineup changes, Lynott bounced back-and-forth between right guard (six starts) and center (four starts) last season. With the graduation of Jonathan Huckins, who had eight starts at center, the logical move is to have Lynott at center this fall. The junior missed the final two games of the 2017 season with a torn Achilles tendon, so he may see his participation limited this spring;

— Aaron Haigler … Another junior who bounced around the line last fall, Haigler had three starts at right tackle, and six at right guard. If Lynott moves over from right guard to center, Haigler may find a home at right guard;

— Isaac Miller … The other junior with starting experience, Miller was on the field for less than half (390) of CU’s 909 offensive plays. Miller did have four consecutive starts at right tackle … but played every offensive snap in just one of those games. Miller missed all of the 2016 season with a knee injury, so Miller’s health is always an issue.

— Josh Kaiser … The only senior (for now) on the roster, Kaiser had his first career start (at left tackle) against Colorado State, but was injured the following week against Texas State. Later, Kaiser moved to right tackle, starting three games there. Like Miller, Kaiser was able to take the field for less than half (418) of CU’s snaps on offense. Like Miller, Kaiser will be depended upon to provide experience and depth for the 2018 offensive line.

Next man up

There are three other offensive linemen returning who do not have “freshman” next to their name, and will have a chance to make a name for themselves this spring. Juniors Brett Tonz, Dillon Middlemess, and Hunter Vaughn have played in a total of 44 games (good), with zero starts (not so good). These players have mostly taken the field when the Buffs are attempting field goals and extra points, so there is not much in the way of game experience when it comes to this trio of players.

A “Ray” of hope?

— Kanan Ray … While CU has yet to land its sought-after senior offensive line transfer, the Buffs did land a late four-star recruit in Ray. A 6-foot-4, 280-pound prospect from Chatsworth, California, Ray has signed a financial aid agreement with CU and will enroll for the spring semester. Ray greyshirted at UCLA last fall as he recovered from shoulder surgery, and was granted a release from his previous National Letter of Intent. Ray will have four years of eligibility at CU and can begin practicing when spring drills begin Feb. 16.

— Jacob Moretti … The highest-rated of all of CU’s recruits from the Recruiting Class of 2017, the four-star prospect hasn’t seen the field of play since 2015. Moretti missed his senior high school campaign in 2016 with a knee injury, and sat out the 2017 season in Boulder for his red-shirt season. The former Ohio State recruit has the potential to be a four-year starter at left tackle … or another player who was never able to overcome injuries and live up to his potential. Moretti won’t likely be a “full go” for this spring, but is reportedly coming along, and should be a factor in the 2018 lineup.

— Grant Polley … Another highly recruited player from the Recruiting Class of 2017, Polley was rated as the No. 20 guard prospect in the nation last February. The Buffs are in desperate need of a redshirt freshman (or two) to find their way into the offensive line rotation … and Polley is a good bet to be one of those players.

— The best of the rest … Heston Paige and William Sherman, two three-star recruits from the Class of 2017. Both sat out the 2017 season, and will compete this fall as red-shirt freshmen … Chance Lytle and Colby Pursell, two gray-shirt recruits from the Class of 2016, Both have been with the team since last January.

Actions speak louder than words.

Colorado has several quality offensive linemen in the pipeline, but they all have “freshman” next to their names.

The Buffs do have three returning starters along the offensive line, but that’s about as far as the good news will take us. Three from a unit which was 123rd in the nation in sacks allowed.

Behind those three there is promise, but little in the way of known quantities.

Which is why the CU coaching staff, which already is hovering around the 90 mark in scholarship players (the limit, come this summer, is 85), is still in the market for senior transfer help along the offensive line. Stanford graduate Casey Tucker was a potential pickup, but it now appears that he will be heading home to Arizona, and play for Arizona State instead of Colorado. If there is another quality senior transfer out there, the Buffs will be in the market.

The CU offensive line, a liability in 2017, is in line to be a liability in 2018.

Unless news from spring practices leads us to believe otherwise …



7 Replies to “Spring Ball First Look: OL”

  1. There were high expectations for the Oline from everywhere. (Got “Hawkensed” again. Sheesh.


    Meeting or exceeding expectations. Oline grading. Shoulda included early post

    0.00 – 1.90 Phenomenal performance
    1.91 – 2.09 All-Conference caliber
    2.10 – 2.25 Starter caliber
    2.26 – 2.40 Above Average
    2.41 – 2.60 Average
    2.61 – 4.00 Below Average

    Buff O line ratings for 2017

    Above Average:
    2.29 Irwin
    2.31 Kough

    2.42 Huckins
    2.42 Lynott
    2.43 Kaiser
    2.47 Haigler
    2.47 Miller
    2.56 Tonz

    So from a self grading perspective, not one oline guy performed at the starter level. Adams Adams Adams what the hell is going on out there. Gonna give you the benefit because of your OC. Okay?

    Go Buffs.

  2. Ya you could be correct on Keiser. Guard may be better suited for him.

    Tonz can play center. Purcell may be the guy though.

    Haigler is not a tackle

    Sherman-Lynott-Polly on the inside is what I really want to see.

    OUtside may be the big question

    Oh well we can go see who the put at what position at the spring practices…………..Oh wait…..no we cant.


    1. I like your inside grouping too, or even: Sherman-Pursell-Lynott with Polly possibly playing outside (he was a LT in HS and many scouts felt he could play either at college level).

      Will be interesting to see if Moretti and Lytle can overtake Miller-Haigler at the tackle spots.

      Haigler got moved around so much last year and Miller was dealing with injuries (again) so I’d like to see what they could do if focused on a single position and healthy through camps and season.

  3. The O-line. The vaunted O-line. The Maligned O-line. The Over-rated O-line.

    Wow! Could be all of the above.

    Stuart says “And now three offensive line starters are gone” That is really good news. Good news really. Seniors play cause well that is how it is in this org.

    Beginning note. The RS frosh class and the frosh class has more talent, athleticism and rating than the seniors, juniors and sophs listed by stuart. (Those sr lineman from last year underperformed, under led and were under talented yet they played the most. (The ingrained MickeyMac flaw))

    Truth and fact.

    So what is this year gonna be? It is a rebuild, a reload, or a continuation of the rise, or a continuation of the slide down???

    What ever it is gonna be will decide how the coaches decide to play the talent……….or not………?

    So go young now. Go talent now.

    LT: Miller (Jr); Vaughn (So); Moretti (rFr); Filip (Fr)
    LG: ; Polley (rFr); Middlemiss (Jr) Ray (GsFr)
    C : Lynott (Jr); Tonz (Jr); Pursell (rFr); Jynes (Fr)
    RG: Sherman (rFr); Haigler (Jr) Paige (rFr); Roddick (GsFr)
    RT: Kaiser (Sr); Shutack (Jr); Lytle (rFr); Paige (rFr)

    I expect this to be the best Oline we have seen in TWO YEARS.

    Go Buffs and hopefully year Six Under MickeyMac with a whole new coaching staff except for you know who, will be the real growth of he and the staff. I mean year 6. All your recruits. All your staff. All your money.

    This oline needs to be the best in 10 years not 2. This offense needs to be the best in 20 years not 2

    Dang nab it……….Tad has grown to use the Zone and talent…….Mickey needs to grow To be a HC guru not a “Earache DB gur”

    Perhaps this is the year..The coaching changes indicate hmmmmmmmmm “Moving on up to the East side, to a deluxe box in the sky”

    It’s all so confusing really.

    I come to praise MickeyMac not to bury him

    Go Buffs.

    1. You spout starting the most talented O-line regardless of seniority and then want Kaiser to be the starting RT? He allowed more sacks per snap than anybody last year (27% higher than the next worse guy Huckins).

      With a very talented crop of red-shirt freshman on tap, CU should be able to redshirt the new class of o-linemen as well: Jynes, Filip and Roddick,

      LT is going to be the hardest spot to fill. Miller and Haigler probably have the edge going into spring drills with Moretti and Vaughn competing. Moretti is the most talented but as Stuart points out he has been out of competition for 2 years. He also was 20-30 pounds behind those guys at the end of 2017 (per CU’s roster). 3-star transfer walk-on Jack Schutack could also factor in at tackle. Grant Polley also is a natural tackle that most project as a guard but he could be better suited outside for CU.

      I disagree with Stuart’s assessment at Center, however. Colby Pursell traveled with the team all of 2017 as the emergency center and much talk was that he could have competed last year if needed but they wanted to preserve his RS. With Lynott’s injury I think he is the front runner for the center spot. Tonz is not a natural OL and certainly not a center; he is best as a reserve guard (where he mostly practiced at).

      That means Lynott can stay at one of the guard spots when he is healthy.

      Will Sherman and Grant Polley are going to be really hard to keep off the field and one of them should win the other guard spot (or both if Lynott isn’t ready to go). Middlemiss, Tonz, Kaiser, Paige, and Ray would fill out the depth chart.


      1. The ol offense………….The OLine. Just want the best to play. The seniors last year were not the best of the bunch.

        Funny about stats for Oline guys. Lot is judgement by somebody.
        Even Sacks. Qb problem, Good coverage, all that stuff. Sacks a fairly useless stat when used stand alone really

        (Hey scotty, you get those stats off the CU (no offense and said with much respect) data base? Asking for a brother-in-law

        And being able to do the math is really important

        Sacks or pressures

        Buffs gave up
        Sacks 24.5. pressures 29 and throw in penalties 28 Call those negative plays

        ……….snaps….neg P………worse category
        Irwin……709…..12.5……….7 penalties
        Huckins….591……12………..5 sacks and penalties
        Kough…..907……12.5………6 penalties
        Haigler….763……16.5………8 pressures
        Kaiser…..418…….8.5………4.5 sacks
        Lynott…..709……12.5………7 pressures
        Miller…..390…….6……….3 penalties.

        Actually they were all pretty not good.

        % of negative plays
        Keiser .0203349
        Hagler .0216251

        There ya go.

        Grades for the year


        The Oline lacked any leadership. Senior caption (He got all the preseason hype)suspended and highest ranked O line guy for the year.

        Who takes the heat? The captain or the Oline coach. I would suspect the “seniority plan” of MickeyMac is a major player in this problem area.

        Last years Oline was supposed to be the best in a while. It wasn’t. You can lay the repsonsiblity squarely on the over-hyped and failed senior captain.

        Need a better captain this year.


        1. Yessir, stats from CU websites final season booklet. PDF available on website.

          Sure, always subjectivity when “grading” plays instead of objective criteria for o-line.

          There were also about 15 sacks allowed by CU not “blamed” on the O-line.

          BTW: the “grades” are in reverse order, per the stat book…
          “Grades based of 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 points per play (½-points awarded if somewhere in-between), the lower the better. Final Grade Scale: 0.00-1.90 phenomenal
          performance; 1.91-2.09 all-conference caliber or better; 2.10-2.25 starting caliber; 2.41-2.60 average; 2.61-4.0 below average”

          So the “senior captain” with all the pub was the best along with Kough. Not saying they were great either.

          Not sure why you keep saying the “seniority plan” by Coach Mac. Lynott was All-American Freshman in 2016; Lynott, Haigler and Miller played a lot as a sophomores.
          2,625 O-line snaps by upperclassmen in 2017 58% of total
          1,925 O-line snaps by underclassmen in 2017 42% of total

          Not a whole lot of point in dissecting a horrible performance last year, so let’s hope the new breed challenges the established players and talent wins out in 2018! I know Montez is hoping so!

          This year we only have one senior, Kaiser; so you better find a new drum to beat… haha (just kidding).

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