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Fall Camp Roster Review – Offensive Line

Previously Posted …

The Roster … 

bold = returning starter … italicized = walk-on … TR = Transfer …

— Offensive linemen (19):

  • Seniors … Kary Kutsch
  • Juniors … Colby Pursell … Chance Lytle
  • Sophomores … Frank Fillip … Casey Roddick … Max Wray (TR) … Kanan Ray … Joshua Jynes … John Deitchman 
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Austin Johnson … Jake Wiley … Valentin Senn … Nikko Pohahau … Noah Fenske (TR) … Dominick Cate
  • True freshmen … Carson Lee … Gerad Christian-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, while senior Will Sherman garnered second-team All-Pac-12 honors.

CU 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

What others say about CU’s offensive line … 

Pac-12 Media … none listed in preseason All-Pac-12 lists  … not even as an honorable mention

Athlon’s … Unit Ranking: 10th in the Pac-12 … CU hasn’t finished in the top half of the Pac-12 in scoring since joining the conference in 2011, but strong quarterback play and some changes to the offense could help. “We were very vanilla offensively last year, in terms of movement and shifting, things like that”, Dorrell says. “We’ve made some tweaks, with adding more formation and motions, and doing more adjustments and shifts … which we didn’t really do much of”.

Phil Steele … Projected Starters: C – Colby Pursell; RG – Casey Roddick; LG – Kary Kutsch; RT – Frank Fillip; LT – Max Wray … Despite the loss of Will Sherman, the Buffs do have seven of eight offensive linemen who started in 2020 (58 career starts) returning for a unit that posted the highest rushing yards per game in 19 seasons.

Comments … Even with William Sherman leaving early for the NFL, this could be the most talented 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, Joshua Jynes and Kanan Ray, who both had their first career starts this past fall, and Ohio State transfer Max Wray.

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, and his status for the fall is 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 has been the main goal of this off-season.

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.

Comments … From the Daily CameraThere are some question marks on the line, but this should be a solid group. Most of the unit returns from 2020, when CU averaged a solid 4.62 yards per rushing attempt and gave up just seven sacks (1.17 per game, second in the Pac-12). If healthy, Fillip is expected to start at left tackle, Kutsch at left guard and Pursell at center. Roddick missed spring, but will fight to keep his starting job at right guard. He will have tough competition, including from Fenske, Johnson and Ray, who played well in limited snaps last year. Wray might be the favorite to play right tackle, but Wiley, who held that spot for much of spring, will compete, as well.

Final word … There were multiple injuries in the 2020 season that kept the lineup going through constant change. Then, there were injuries in the spring that kept some key players from getting on the field.

If there’s a silver lining, however, it’s that several linemen have gained valuable game or practice experience.

“It’s given us an opportunity to play people at different positions, so that’s been the positive,” offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue said in the spring.

Can Rodrigue and offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini find a way to make all of the puzzle pieces fit into the right positions?

That is what spring practices and fall camp are for – finding the best combination of linemen who can make the team successful.

CU didn’t have spring ball in 2020, and had an abbreviated fall camp, yet the line helped produce the Pac-12 Offensive Player-of-the-Year and the 23rd-best rushing attack in the nation.

The coaching staff has now had a full off-season to work with their team, and Shannon Turley and his strength and conditioning staff have had six months to work their magic.

Of all of the above notes and quotes, what stood out to me was the stat from Athlon: “CU hasn’t finished in the top half of the Pac-12 in scoring since joining the conference in 2011”.

Yikes.

If the Buffs are to finish in the top half of the conference in scoring … and the top half of the conference in wins … the offensive line will play a significant role.

Despite the fact that no CU offensive lineman even rated honorable mention in the preseason All-Pac-12 media compilation (despite having two returning starters who were honorable mentions in 2020), it seems like the pieces in place for this line to have an exceptional season …

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5 Replies to “Fall Camp Roster Review – Offensive Line”

  1. I’m thinking the Oline is gonna be just fine.
    Mitch Rodrigue? How did HCKD get hold of this guy?

    What a find eh?

    Bolder Buffs Bowl Bound

    1. Jay Johnson and Chris Kapilovic recommended him. If I recall, Jay had coached w/ him, and Kapilovic was a fan of his training system.

      Go Buffs

  2. Definitely more concerned about say, Fillip continuing his development, playing very well and moving on after the year…than our O-line being a liability (though we are a bit inexperienced/thin at T vs. interior). That being said, want to see continued development…better communication (no free blitzers/stunters) and better feel (need to be able to run simple screens to offset the blitzing).

  3. “CU hasn’t finished in the top half of the Pac-12 in scoring since joining the conference in 2011”.

    Yet another indication that Jim Leavitt was primarily responsible for the success in 2016….and in MHO that Mickey Mac, a defensive oriented coach, was meddling far too much with the offense.

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