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Countdown to Spring Practices – Offensive Line

Note … This is the fifth in a series of unit-by-unit spring previews. A new unit will be previewed every few days over the next month, leading to the start of spring practices in late March. The tight ends preview will be posted next …

Previously posted … 

The Roster … 

bold = returning starter … italicized = walk-on … *= early enrollee (in school for spring practices) … TR … Transfer …

— Offensive linemen (16):

  • Seniors … Kary Kutsch
  • Juniors … Colby PursellChance Lytle
  • Sophomores … Frank FillipCasey Roddick … Kanan Ray … Joshua Jynes … John Deitchman 
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Austin Johnson … Jake Wiley … Valentin Senn … Nikko Pohahau … Dominick Cate
  • True freshmen … Jake Wray … Carson Lee … Gerad Lichtenhan
  • 2021 Signees … Jackson Anderson … Edgar Amaya

The Stats … 

Snaps played during the 2020 season (not counting the Alamo Bowl – CU does not include bowl game statistics in season-ending stats):

  • Frank Fillip – 375 – started every game at right tackle
  • Will Sherman – 369 – started every game at left tackle
  • Casey Roddick – 365 – started four games at right guard; one game at left guard
  • Kary Kutsch – 243 – started the opener at left guard; started two games at center; was injured for the final two games
  • Chance Lytle – 193 – started three games at left guard (first career starts); broke his leg in the Arizona game
  • Colby Pursell – 132 – started the opener and the home finale at center; missed three games in between with injury
  • Kanan Ray – 126 – made his first career start against Utah, starting at right guard
  • Joshua Jynes – 92 – made first career start at center v. Arizona

The entire starting five was nominated as CU’s “Offensive Player of the Game” for the opener v. UCLA, in which CU ran for 264 yards and five touchdowns. Frank Fillip was nominated as CU’s “Offensive Player of the Game” for the Stanford game.

Sophomores Frank Fillip and Casey Roddick were both named to the 2020 All-Pac-12 teams as honorable mentions.

Nationally … 

  • Sacks allowed … 1.17 sacks/game … 10th nationally
  • Red zone offense … .913 (21-of-23; 17 touchdowns; four field goals) … 14th nationally
  • Rushing offense … 212.3 yds./game … 23rd nationally
  • Third down conversion offense … .427 (41-of-96) … 48th nationally
  • Total offense … 413.8 yds./game … 48th nationally
  • Scoring offense … 28.5 pts./game … 63rd nationally
  • Tackles for loss allowed … 6.33/game … 68th nationally
  • Passing offense … 201.5 yds./game … 87th nationally
  • Fourth down conversion offense … .429 (3-of-7) … 104th nationally

Comments … Even with William Sherman leaving early for the NFL, this could be the most experienced offensive line Colorado has been able to put on the field since the early 2000’s, when the likes of Andre Gurode and Wayne Lucier were paving the way for Chris Brown and Bobby Purify. With Kary Kutsch coming back for a second senior season, the Buffs have four returning starters along the line, and that doesn’t include Chance Lytle, who had three starts at left guard during the 2020 campaign, and Joshua Jynes and Kanan Ray, who both had their first career starts this past fall.

Finding the right combination of starters – and keeping them healthy – could go a long ways toward a successful 2021 season for the Buffs. Chance Lytle suffered an ugly fracture to his leg during the Arizona game, so his status as spring turns to summer will be worth monitoring. Despite missing the Utah game and the bowl game, Lytle was still named to the All-Pac-12 team, joining fellow sophomore Frank Fillip as honorable mention honorees.

Looking at the national rankings, the fact that the Buffs were 10th in the nation in sacks allowed per game, and 23rd in rushing stand out as positives for the offensive line. The fact that CU was in the bottom half nationally in passing offense (87th), and only mediocre in total offense (48th) and scoring offense (63rd) can only be partly attributed to the line play.  Offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue, a hire questioned by many (including myself), has proven more than capable of taking over and developing talent. Creating a pool of seven or eight linemen who can play multiple positions will be the main focus of spring practices.

It certainly would have helped to have Will Sherman return for his senior season, but this is a group that has significant experience returning, and should only benefit from having its first set of spring practices with the new coaching staff. Injuries are a way of life for offensive linemen – Colby Pursell missed three games this past season due to injury; Kary Kutsch two; and Colby Pursell one – but the offensive line still had one of its better seasons of the past decade. Managing the inevitable shuffling of the roster will play a significant role in CU’s success on the field this fall.

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5 Replies to “Countdown to Spring Practices – Offensive Line”

  1. The success of the OL will be:
    1. The # of QB rushes allowed
    2. The # of QB sacks allowed
    3. The avg. rushing yards gained per carry
    I’m not stating anything not known, but therein lies the secret as to how well the BUFFS will do in the PAC-12. Hoping for the best, however, there are too many unknowns to be overly optimistic at this point. We simply can’t prognosticate like an Alabama. Just facts.

    GO BUFFS

  2. Well they have to prove it but I am optimistic after Mitch’s first season as OL coach and how much depth they have going into this year.
    Add Shannon Turley S&C coach and potential for a good year is there.
    The four sophmores that played had 958 combined snaps last year…not bad.

    Shout out to David Bakhtiari who tore his ACL in late December. Former 2 star recruit and CU Buff,
    now one of the best in the NFL. Get well soon and come visit CU when you feel better.

  3. I too strongly questioned the coaches hire. He didn’t look very impressive on paper but seemed to do a good job last year. This year could really be a big jump as COVID shortened practice sessions last year so a full year’s of training could really help all the young men. Go Buffs!

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