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Spring Practices … First Look: Offensive Line

Program Note … Spring practices begin March 18th (Spring Game: April 27th). Between now and the start of spring ball, previews will be posted for each unit of the 2019 Colorado roster.

… Previously posted: QuarterbacksRunning BacksWide Receivers/Tight Ends

The roster: 

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (18 scholarship):

Seniors: Tim Lynott, Jr.; Brett Tonz; Arlington Hambright*
Juniors: Kary Kutsch; Hunter Vaughn; Va’atofu Sauvao
Sophomores: Colby Pursell; William Sherman; Jacob Moretti; Chance Lytle; Heston Paige; Frank Fillip
Redshirt freshmen: Casey Roddick; Kanan Ray; Josh Jynes
True freshmen: Austin Johnson**; Jake Wiley; Valentin Senn; Nikko Pohahau

bold: denotes returning starter

* Hambright signed on with the Buffs after the preview was written. Hambright will have one year of eligibility at Colorado. With only one year to play in Boulder, it would seem clear that the coaching staff would have confidence that Hambright will compete for playing time this fall.

** Early enrollee, will be on campus for spring practices …

The stats (2018)

Colby Pursell … 830 plays … Grade: 2.53 … 12 career games; 12 starts (all in 2018; all at center) … third on team in both touchdown blocks (13) and perfect plays on passing touchdowns (13)

William Sherman … 750 plays … Grade: 2.45 … 12 career games; nine starts (all in 2018; all at left tackle) … third on team with 14 knockdown blocks

Tim Lynott, Jr. … 644 plays … Grade: 2.55 … 36 career games; 33 starts (most on team; nine starts in 2018; all at right guard) … led the team in knockdown blocks (18); tied for the team led in perfect plays on passing touchdowns (15)

Brett Tonz … 569 plays … Grade: 2.54 … 30 career games; six starts (all in 2018; all at left guard) … second on team in knockdown blocks (16); third on the team with 14 perfect plays on passing touchdowns

— Frank Fillip … 207 plays … Grade: 2.66 … Eight career games; two starts (both in 2018; both at right tackle)

Jacob Moretti … 65 plays … Grade: 2.50 … Seven career games; two starts (both in 2018; both at left guard)

There’s a new sheriff in town

Klayton Adams, one of the least favorite of Mike MacIntyre’s assistant coaches, is no longer in Boulder. After six seasons as CU’s offensive line coach and part-time offensive coordinator, Adams wasn’t unemployed for long. A month or so after being relieved of his duties at Colorado, Adams was hired as Wyoming’s offensive line coach. Four weeks later, Adams pulled a Kliff Kingsbury and headed off to the NFL, where he is now as assistant offensive line coach for the Indianapolis Colts.

Like Klingsbury, Adams was fired for being ineffective at the collegiate level, took another college job, then bolted for the NFL.

Go figure …

Love him or hate him, Adams is no longer at the Champions Center, replaced by Chris Kapilovic.

Kapilovic is the offensive line coach and run game coordinator, and was the third coach hired by new CU head coach Mel Tucker, joining the Buffalo staff on Dec. 13, 2018.

Kapilovic (pronounced kuh-pil-oh-vick) came to Colorado from the University of North Carolina, where he spent the previous seven seasons (2012-18) coaching the offensive line under head coach Larry Fedora.  He was also the run game coordinator his first two seasons there, and then was the co-offensive coordinator for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.  For his last three seasons on the Tar Heel staff, he was the associate head coach and offensive coordinator along with his offensive line coaching duties.

In his seven seasons at UNC, he was part of an offensive unit that established over 60 school records, including points per game (2012, 2014), total offense (2012, 2014), passing yards (2012-13-14-15-16) and first downs (2014-15).  North Carolina averaged more than 170 rushing yards per game from 2012 through 2016, the highest five-year average for the Tar Heels since Mack Brown was their head coach some two decades earlier.  The 2018 squad allowed just 10 sacks all season, the .91 per game figure seventh best in the nation while the team also averaged 193 rushing yards per game (5.3 per carry) and a healthy 442.1 yards per game, 35th best nationally.

Coach Tucker had nothing but high praise for his new offensive line coach. “Kap is a veteran coach who has a great reputation for developing cohesive offensive lines,” Tucker said.  “He had several great lines at North Carolina that were the backbone of some prolific offenses.  He’s an outstanding recruiter, has high character and is a great family man.  He came highly recommended from Andy Heck, who I coached with in the NFL with Jacksonville – Kap coached both of his boys.”  (Heck is currently the offensive line coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.)

Coach “Kap” has successfully recruited a number of four-star recruits over the years, and is credited with bringing into the fold CU’s first recruit from the Class of 2020, three-star offensive lineman Carson Lee from Cherry Creek high in Denver.

Chris Kapilovic will have a clean slate with Buff fans, as getting rid of Klayton Adams was seen as off-season priority No. 1 (even if Mike MacIntyre had been retained).

So we’ll see how “Coach Kap” does in reshaping the CU offensive line into an effect unit.

Four returning starters: Good news … or bad news?

The good news for Coach Kapilovic is that the cupboard was not left bare by Coach Adams, with four starters returning.

The bad news is that, well … you know the rest.

In a year of injuries, only one offensive lineman, center Colby Pursell, started every game. Pursell will be a sophomore this season, and should provide a solid base from which the new offensive can be constructed.

The guard positions, at least at the outset, belong to two seniors, Tim Lynott, Jr. and Brett Tonz. Lynott started nine games at right guard last fall, while Tonz started six games at left guard.

The left tackle position may also be set, with sophomore William Sherman holding down the starting position for the final nine games of the 2018 campaign. Sherman, along with fellow sophomore-to-be Pursell, were the only two CU offensive lineman last year to reach double digits in knockdown blocks, touchdown blocks, and perfect plays on passing touchdowns.

The fifth offensive line spot, right tackle, is the only one where there isn’t anyone you can at least pencil-in as a potential starter. Aaron Haigler and Josh Kaiser, both seniors last year, had all but two of the starts at the position last year, with yet another sophomore-to-be, Frank Fillip, starting the Oregon State and Arizona games.

Overall, the line has a good mix of talent. The aforementioned starting guards – Tim Lynott and Brett Tonz – are the only two seniors. There are three juniors on the roster, with returning contributors Hunter Vaughn and Kary Kutsch (68 combined snaps last fall) joined by incoming junior college transfer Vastofu Sauvao.

With five upperclassmen on the roster, that means that Coach Kap has a whopping 13 underclassmen to mold. In addition to the three potential sophomore starters – Colby Pursell; William Sherman; and Frank Fillip – there are three other sophomore contributors – Heston Paige; Chance Lytle; and Jacob Moretti.

Which leads us to …

Will Jacob Moretti ever be able to become a dominant lineman? 

Jacob Moretti is one of CU’s most heralded offensive line recruits of the past decade. A four-star prospect from Pamona high in Arvada, Moretti originally pledged his services to Ohio State as a member of the Recruiting Class of 2017. A knee injury forced Moretti to miss his entire senior season, however, and Moretti switched his commitment from Ohio State to Colorado.

Still recovering from injury, Moretti sat out the 2017 season as his redshirt year. Last fall, his first time on the field since 2015, Moretti played in seven games, starting two. Even in those games, however, Moretti was unable to finish. For the season, Moretti was only on the field of play for 65 snaps.

So, if healthy, the former first-team all-state performer will be looking this fall for his first meaningful participation on the field … in four years.

Fingers crossed.

Overall Last year, the Colorado offense – despite producing a 1,000-yard rusher for the third consecutive season – finished 99th in the nation in rushing offense (143.0 yards/game). The Buffs were also 106th in the nation in sacks allowed (2.83/game) and 127th in tackles for loss allowed (8.67/game … better than only two teams in the FBS).

So, Coach “Kap” has his work cut out for him.

There are a number of players returning who have experience, and a number of players who have talent.

CU’s 2019 season will rise and fall on Coach Kapilovic’s ability to take that experience and talent, and mold it into a cohesive unit which can control the line of scrimmage.

—–

 

12 Replies to “Spring Practices … First Look: Offensive Line”

  1. I remember watching the Oline play last year and thinking these guys are not as STRONG as the Dline they were playing against. This became quite apparent when PAC 12 play began. They also looked much smaller than their opponents.
    We now have the same strength and conditioning coaches but a different head coach. Now I’m reading that the workouts in the weight room has gone through the roof. Players are saying they are lifting more weight in a shorter amount of time and sprinting between sessions. The players can already see the positive results in new found strength but also in a new found mental attitude that these types of changes to your football team can have. Another positive influence by our new head coach.
    I also like the size of the new Oline recruits. Some of these kids are going to come in and raise the bar for physical and mental toughness that I think has been missing around here for far too long.
    HCMT does not mince his words when he says that football is a game for Big Men and the best players at each position will be the ones on the field helping us to win games and eventually…….CHAMPIONSHIPS!!
    With improved Oline play, I anticipate Montez will shine as well as our receiving corp and running backs. It all starts up front.
    In Tucker I trust!!! Go Buffs

  2. Hambright is a huge get for the Buffs and gives us demonstrated success at a P5 level that we can have “hope” that he will lock down the LT spot. Aside from that we are going to have a great competition on the interior lines between Lynott, Sauvao, Moretti, Pursell, Tonz, Kutsch, and maybe even Roddick and Ray. Depending on where Sherman gets placed he could be in that mix too. Whichever three emerge from that group as the starters I will have confidence in since there are some talented and hardworking kids in that group.

    The biggest concern now is the RT spot. Should be Fillip’s to lose but if he hasn’t bought in to the new staff then not sure who is the answer there. Sherman might get moved there out of necessity, but there is also Shutack who is a talented PWO (former 3 star recruit with multiple P5 offers), Vaughn, and maybe Lytle gets moved to tackle to create some competition but honestly none of that inspires much confidence as I see Sherman as an interior lineman.

    Still time for another grad transfer however and there are a few still hanging out there with P5 talent.

    I trust Kapilovic leaps and bounds above Adams however so it will be certainly interesting to watch how it unfolds.

    1. At the very least, Hambright brings some much needed insurance to the tackle position. Moretti has injury issues, and it has been reported that Fillip will not be staying on the roster. If Sherman and Hambright wind up as your starters at tackle, you’re not in too bad a shape. If Moretti can play a full season, and/or Fillip decides to stick around, CU can have a decent rotation at those positions.

        1. No, it’s not publicly known …
          We’ll have to see what sort of official announcement is made by the University, or what the young man posts on social media, in due course …

          1. Yes, that is what Howell said in his weekly chat.
            The question was “why?”, and we don’t have that answer yet.

  3. And the oline.

    5 new dudes

    Vaatofu Sauvao JC………………6’4 320 will get a shot to play this year.

    The 4 frosh will redshirt…………………..
    Johnson 6’4 265
    Wiley 6’6 260
    Senn 6’7 280
    Pohahau 6’5 270

    Yo the big line………….
    Sosauvao……………….6’4 320
    Lynott……………………6’3 300
    Jynes…………………….6’3 310
    Roddick………………..6’3 340
    Sherman……………….6’4 300
    Lytle……………………..6’7 315
    Moretti………………….6’4 300

    Go Buffs

  4. Happy belated Valentines day and early happy Presidents day and Go Buffs.

    I guess one has to trust the new staff on this one. The oline basically has been soft, slow, and not coached well. (Adams as an NFL assistant line coach? ……that is not a job where you are TEACHING kids to be oline guys…………more of a gopher job……perfect.. no offense bud “pun intended” and good luck to you but glad you are gone) Anyway it will be interesting to see if the toughness can be brought into this oline and the offense and hell the whole team.

    The Current oline guys will have to up the level and do it quickly. Yup Coach Kap is a teacher and hopefully these boys will pick it up and gel as individuals and then as unit. Damn why am I even typing this…………….Cause I am hooked into Mighty Buff Sports…………Simple

    Play the best player. Meaning the players that will make this the best oline in a decade. Play the players (Like HCMT stated) that will beat USC. I am not sure that was the case with the last staff. ( Across the board)

    Doesn’t matter to me who starts. Hey if players wanna leave and I don’t care what the reason is……………GET GONE……………NOW

    Buffs.

    Note: This year?????? …………….7 and 6 min………………

  5. I’m still not sure Pursell is the penciled in starter at center as he has a low ceiling. This staff has a preference for size and I would not be surprised if Lynott is the starting center.

    I think Roddick will play quite a bit at guard, especially in short yartage situations. Kanan Ray was a 4-star and likely to play if healthy.

    It still seems most likely Fillip will transfer to Notre Dame especially if he thinks he won’t have to sit out a year. Man do we need him to stay, he would likely end up starting for Notre Dame and we dont have many people at ANY position that’s true of.

    I think this line has a lot of talent and much better coaching. It’s Year 0 but the talent and staff are there.

  6. It seems like it is the same year after year after year, and it also seems as if it has been forever. Will this be the year that the OLine finally is able to protect the QB, and consistently contribute to a strong running game?

    One has to wonder what it would be like to have an offense, that when they need to run the ball can do so with some consistency and success. One also wonders with the group of WRs and skill players what it would be like to observe a QB that is not always running for his life or having to scramble from the pocket because the center of the line has totally collapsed or the outside rushers are barreling down on him.

    Early in the season Montez seemed to be staying in the pocket, but as the season wore on he again had to revert to scrambling for his life while going through his reads, and then his mechanics seemed to degrade, faced with this issue, game after game.

    If the OLIne is finally competent we could maybe see some outstanding running backs performing, and if Montez is truly a big time QB, which I think he could be this team could finally rock on offense. Who knows we might not even be as critical of the play calling as in the past if only the OLine
    Performs well.

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