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Countdown to Spring Practices – Offensive Line

… Program Note … Colorado’s first of 15 spring practices will be conducted on March 18, with the spring game scheduled for April 27th at Folsom Field.

In addition to a look at the current roster and questions which Coach Prime & Co. will be looking to address this spring, we’ll take a look at the odds of whether the described unit is likely to add new players – or face attrition – after the spring.

Previously posted:

Up next: Defensive Line … Coming this Sunday …

— Offensive Line (13) …

Returning starter (bold); walk-on (italics):

  • Seniors … Tyler Brown … Justin Mayers … Kareem Harden … Isaiah Jatta
  • Juniors … Savion Washington … Tyler Johnson … Yakiri Walker … Kahlil Benson … Phillip Houston … Ben Reznik … Camden Dempsey
  • Sophomores … Hank Zilinskas … Carter Edwards … David Conner
  • Red-shirt freshmen … none
  • 2024 Signees … Jordan Seaton (EE) … Cash Cleveland (EE) 

The Stats … 

No need to beat a dead horse here … Buff fans are all too familiar with the numbers. CU gave up a school-record 56 sacks last season. Coach Prime’s son, Shedeur, was sacked 52 times and the toll of those hits prevented him from playing in the final six quarters of the season. The offensive line was a sieve, with the 4.67 sacks allowed per game ranking the Buffs 129th nationally (second-to-last).

Oh, and the CU rushing “attack” posted an absurdly low 68.9 yards/game, dead last nationally. For comparison’s sake, the pathetic 1-11 2022 team averaged 108.3 yards/game, almost double what the much more talented 2023 team posted. All you need to know about how terrible CU was at rushing the ball … even if the sack yardage allowed is subtracted out, the Buffs rushing numbers would still only get the Buffs into the 110’s nationally.

When you are looking for stats to judge an offensive line, the first two to look at would be the rushing attack and sacks allowed … and Colorado was at the bottom of the FBS in both categories.

“When you watched us play, what did you say?” Sanders said in an interview with 247Sports the day the transfer portal officially opened in early December. “‘Oh boy, if they just had some protection for Shedeur [Sanders] or if they could just get after that passer, oh, they would be …’ We’re going to address that. We got to address that in the portal and from the high school rankings. You got to understand, high school to me is like draft choices in the NFL, the portal is free agency. And we’re in free agency right now. And I’m thankful that we have and we will have the wherewithal to go get what we need.”

True to his word, Coach Prime landed four transfer offensive lineman in the first ten days of the Transfer Portal. All four were starters at other FBS schools – Kahlil Benson (Indiana), Tyler Johnson (Houston), Justin Mayers (UTEP) and Yakiri Walker (Connecticut).

Throw in five-star freshman Jordan Seaton and holdover Tyler Brown, who had to sit out last season, and you can make the case for CU having five new starters along the offensive line come August.

And, considering the stats of the 2023 season, that might not be a bad idea …

Nationally … CU in 2023 … 

  • Rushing offense … 68.9 yds/game … 130th nationally
  • Passing offense … 294.7 yds/game … 16th nationally
  • Total offense … 363.6 yds/game … 80th nationally
  • Scoring offense … 28.2 pts/game … 58th nationally

What to watch for …

— Four starters from last year’s sieve of an offensive line are no longer with the team. Right guard Landon Bebee has graduated, Jack Bailey entered the Transfer Portal in March, while left tackle Gerald Christian-Lichtenhan and center Van Wells have both transferred to the black hole which is the remnants of the Oregon State program. Returning from last season is starting right tackle Savion Washington, so the first issue of the spring is whether Washington will be able to hang onto his position.

— Normally, you don’t plan on having a true freshman start along the offensive line. Then again, CU doesn’t normally have a five-star recruit coming to Boulder. Jordan Seaton, at 6’5″, 287-pounds, appears to be all that was advertised, and will quickly become a fan favorite. That said, even though CU is desperate for offensive line help, and Seaton appears ready to be a day one starter, Buff fans need to look no further than how Coach Prime treated another five-star prospect, cornerback Cormani McClain, to keep an eye on Seaton’s development this spring.

— You can’t help but root for Tyler Brown this spring. Brown, a projected starter at guard this past fall, never got a chance to play because, as a second-time transfer, he didn’t get a waiver from the NCAA (you know, the same NCAA which backed down when challenged on this exact rule when basketball season rolled around. The same NCAA which has now eliminated this rule altogether). Brown was an FCS All-American for Sanders at Jackson State in 2022, and will be squarely in the mix for a starting role this fall.

— Second time’s the charm? Last spring, Buff fans were sold on the idea that the rebuilt offensive line would benefit from having a Kent State connection. It is axiomatic in college football that you need to have the offensive line spend time together in order to function as a unit. CU was supposedly skirting that issue by having its new offensive coordinator, its new offensive line coach, and two of its new offensive line starters all making the transition from Kent State. Well … that didn’t work out so well. Now, Buff fans are going to be sold on the idea that having transfers come in who were starters at other FBS schools will make the difference.

We’ll see …

Burning questions for spring … 

  • CU has a new offensive line coach Phil Loadholt has been an offensive line coach, well, never. He has seven years of experience as an offensive lineman (89 career starts), and has been an offensive line analyst. How quickly can he establish that he knows what he is doing, and can make believers out of his new charges?;
  • Will Jordan Seaton prove to be a freak of nature, taking over as a starter in the opener, or will it take time for Seaton to find his way into the lineup?;
  • Which of the FBS transfers will live up to their billing, and remain starters at FBS Colorado?; and
  • With unity of the line a priority, will Coach Prime and his coaching staff be able to identify a starting five for the fall … or at least the top 6-8 players heading into the fall?

Addition/Attrition likelihoodMedium … There will always be room for one more, but Coach Prime has probably identified the highest-rated offensive line transfers in the market. Now, if there are some unexpected defections from high profile schools this April, CU will definitely be in the market.

On the flip side, it wouldn’t be a surprise if there were one or two losses from the unit, especially from players who were part of the dismal 2023 season. They had their chance, and the offensive line – correctly or not – was seen as the Achilles’ heel of the CU offense. If some of the returning players read the room, and see that they are not going to see playing time in 2024, they may opt to play elsewhere.


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

  1. Bailey has already stated he will enter the portal and is no longer listed in the roster no no reason to even consider him competing for a spot (which he most definitely wouldn’t have anyways)

  2. That’s awesome, fisher.

    My answer to the poll question would be I am not worried about the o line. Even less worried after hearing that about loadholdt.

    Prime has shown he can get dudes to Boulder. He got them “outside” at the skill positions first. No reason to think the dudes he got “inside” can’t do their jobs at a high level.

    After all, weren’t they collectively credited with like two sacks over two years?

    I don’t expect that to hold, but that sure seems to bode well.

    Go Buffs

  3. Talked to a starter oline player from Buffs 2001 Buffs (anyone remember them) 😎.. Said new oline coach is a complete bad ass .. His kid a oline at OU was sad to see him go.. Buffs oline in good hands

    1. Thanks, so I looked up his bio, 15 starts his rookie year in the NFL and 16 (every game) the next three years and 15 again and 11 after an injury towards end of year six, that’s pretty bad ass to play O-line and start every game or almost every game for six years. No injuries (that kept him from starting) for the first four years and all the way to the end of year five with one game lost, and then he started 11 more games in to year six.

      His experience and body of work better get their attention. Add in years as an analyst, studying the details of the game after that much playing time in the NFL… Including blocking for Adrian Peterson, he’s got to be worth listening to. With the right energy, and I’m betting he has plenty, he could be a great O-line coach.

      Getting these kids attention is the first half of the battle and having something worth listening to is the second and I’m betting Loadholt has plenty of both.

      If Brown is as good as projected along with the new guys, the line will be much improved and I’m betting Loadholt will be a great leader… And a Bad Ass.

      (after writing all of this… rah rah)

      I expect for this O-line to have an attitude and a certain amount of nastiness this season. Give Shedeur a few extra seconds… give the Buffs a running game AND give the defense some sustained breaks, and give the Buffs more wins.

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