Mind The Gap – Offense

If you have ever traveled by the Underground in London, or taken a train anywhere in England, you have seen the sign, “Mind the Gap” – a basic warning to travelers to watch out for the space between the platform and train.

I’ve always liked the “Mind the Gap” reminder, a little more polite admonishment than a “Keep back” or “Stand back” warning you see in the United States, and a fond memory for those who have had the pleasure of traveling in the United Kingdom.

For CU fans, “Mind the Gap” for the next eight months will mean keeping an eye out for the spaces in the roster between what we would like to see on the field this fall … and what is actually on the current roster.

There will be much fanfare with each new transfer commitment this spring. There will be also much hand-wringing about the potential loss of players from the roster when the second Transfer Portal window opens (April 15th-30th).

The truth of the matter, though, is that there will not be wholesale changes in the locker room this spring. It will not be the turnstile the Buff Nation witnessed during the first season of Coach Prime.

Yes, some players will leave, and others will be brought in. But the reality is that most of the 85-man roster which will run out behind Ralphie on August 31st against North Dakota State is already in place. Likely 80-90 percent of this year’s team is already in the weight room in the Champions Center, getting ready for their first season in the Big 12.

As a result, while there will be plenty of time to sift through the roster and try and discern starting lineups over the course of spring practices and Fall Camp, we already have a pretty good idea of what the coaching staff will have to work with … and where the gaps are which still need to be filled (if possible), this off-season.

Below is a unit-by-unit look at the current roster, and a summation as to whether the unit is already “Power Four” conference caliber, or whether it is still of “Group of Five” quality.

The 2022 Colorado roster, candidly, didn’t have a single unit which was good enough to compete in the Pac-12. The 2023 roster was a marked improvement, but still had noticeable gaps in quality.

What about the 2024 roster?

Let’s find out …

*Note … The delineation of year in school below for each player has no basis in reality. This year, and for the next several years, being a “senior” in school has nothing to do with being a “senior” in terms of eligibility. There are seventh-year seniors out there, and “juniors” who are graduate transfers. So, for the purposes of dividing the roster below, the term “senior” should be read as: “one year of eligibility remaining”.*


  • Senior: Shedeur Sanders
  • Junior: none
  • Sophomores: Destin Wade; Walter Taylor
  • Redshirt Freshman: Ryan Staub
  • True Freshmen: none

Coach Prime stated that he wanted this off-season to bring in players who have started elsewhere. It was also a clear priority for the coaching staff – and the Buff Nation – that a quality backup be in place before Shedeur faces another season of potential injury.

Mission … not necessarily accomplished. CU did bring in two transfer quarterbacks, but neither has much in the way of experience on the field. Destin Wade got one start (in a bowl game) at Kentucky, while Walter Taylor had spot duty with Vanderbilt. Ryan Staub also has starting experience – the Utah game to end the 2023 season for CU – but right now can’t be considered a sure-fire backup.

Power Four or Group of Five? … When you’ve got a first round NFL draft pick as your quarterback (for a program which hasn’t had a quarterback drafted since 1997), this is clearly a Power Four conference worthy roster. But … it wouldn’t be a surprise if the coaching staff is still shopping for an upper classmen in the Transfer Portal this spring, a quarterback who has live fire experience.

Additions between now and August 1st? … Quite possible. CU could look at the room as complete, but the CU offense is one Shedeur Sanders injury from being stuck in the mud, so a quality backup is still on the shopping list.

Running Backs:

  • Senior: none
  • Junior: Sy’veon Wilkerson
  • Sophomores: Dylan Edwards; Alton McCaskill
  • Redshirt Freshman: none
  • True Freshmen: Micah Welch

CU’s trio of returning running backs each had their moments in 2023. Dylan Edwards made an instant splash with a four-touchdown game against No. 17 TCU in the 2023 season opener, while Sy’veon Wilkerson and Alton McCaskill gave Buff fans glimpses of the possible. That said, Colorado was 130th in the nation last season – dead last – in rushing offense last fall. The paltry 68.9 yards/game average can partially be blamed on the ridiculous amount of yardage lost to sacks (492 yards), and can also be partially blamed on CU’s inferior offensive line, but clearly improved production is necessary from CU’s backs.

Alton McCaskill missed all of the 2022 season with injury, and was limited to 14 carries in 2023. McCaskill says he is back in form, and ready to repeat his near 1,000-yard effort he had for Houston as a true freshman in 2021, but Buff fans have reason to be concerned about him fully recovering. Dylan Edwards has shown he can compete at the Power Four level, but needs to show he can be productive week-in and week-out.

Power Four or Group of Five? … At this point, and until proven otherwise, this is a Group of Five running back room. Outside factors are limiting production, but this remains a room which is too small and has too many question marks.

Additions between now and August 1st? … Likely. It’s hard to imagine CU going into the 2024 season with only four true running backs. The watchword here is patience. The second Transfer Portal window in April is likely to see the addition of some talented – but disgruntled – running backs looking for playing opportunities. It’s going to be a buyer’s market for running backs in April, and CU will be shopping.

Wide Receivers:

  • Senior: Jimmy Horn Jr.; Will Sheppard; LaJohntay Wester
  • Junior: Tar’Varish Dawson; Terrell Timmons Jr.
  • Sophomores: Omarion Miller
  • Redshirt Freshman: Adam Hopkins; Jordan Onovughe; Jacob Page; Asaad Waseem; Cordale Russell
  • True Freshmen: Kamron Mikell; Zycarl Lewis; Dre’lon Miller

Colorado has a history of producing great wide receivers, from the era of Michael Westbrook and Charles Johnson, through to the likes of Paul Richardson and Laviska Shenault. This group – without even counting the likely No. 1 receiver, Travis Hunter – is talented and deep. Xavier Weaver was an excellent receiver, and will be missed, but there is plenty of talent in the wings ready to take his place.

Power Four or Group of Five? … A Power Four group, without question. Will Sheppard (Vanderbilt) and LaJohntay Wester (Florida Atlantic) are coming in for their final seasons of eligibility, and they aren’t coming to Boulder for the scenery. They see the 2024 CU offense as a platform to showcase their skills, and will be looking to contribute immediately. Throw in the proven talents of Jimmy Horn Jr., and Travis Hunter, and you don’t have to even worry about underclassmen stepping up in order to have a complete wide receiver room.

Additions between now and August 1st? … There shouldn’t be, but Buff fans know Coach Prime likes his skill position players, so it wouldn’t be a shock if another wide receiver volunteered to catch Shedeur Sanders passes this fall. That being said, this room is the one most likely to see subtractions this April. There will be need to be additions to the roster in other units on the team, which means the subtractions have to come from somewhere. Losing one or two of the underclassmen this spring would not be a surprise.

Tight Ends:

  • Senior: none
  • Junior: Louis Passarello; Chamon Metayer
  • Sophomores: none
  • Redshirt Freshman: none
  • True Freshmen: none

Last year at this time, Colorado seemed poised to have a season with actual production from its tight ends. The roster included Brady Russell, Caleb Fauria, Erik Olsen, and Austin Smith, and it appeared likely that there would be solid contributions from the group. In the end, however, only walk-on Michael Harrison posted any real numbers from the tight end position … and he has since moved on to San Diego State.

Louis Passerello has been with the team for several years, but has yet to see any meaningful action. Chamon Metayer had 23 catches for 258 yards and five touchdowns playing for Cincinnati last fall, so his addition is certainly welcome, but Metayer by himself cannot be counted on to bring tight end glory back to the University of Colorado.

Power Four or Group of Five? … A Group of Five lineup … if that. I didn’t check the North Dakota State roster for confirmation, but it wouldn’t be stretch to imagine that the Bison, an FCS power, have better tight end production than the Power Four Buffs.

Additions between now and August 1st? … Likely, but it also depends on how the CU offensive staff plans to use the tight end position this fall. If the tight ends, other than the occasional pass to Metayer, are going to be primarily blockers, then inserting one or two of the offensive linemen into the lineup as tight ends (like Hank Zilinskas did for the Buffs last fall) may all that CU wants or needs. If another transfer comes in via the Portal this spring who can actually contribute to the passing game, it may be a signal that the CU offense may – gasp! – include its tight ends.

Offensive Line

  • Senior: Tyler Brown; Kareem Harden; Isaiah Jatta; Jack Bailey; Tyler Johnson; Justin Mayers; Kahlil Benson
  • Junior: Savion Washington; Jack Wilty; Yakiri Walker; Phillip Houston
  • Sophomores: Hank Zilinskas; Carter Edwards; David Conner
  • Redshirt Freshman: none
  • True Freshmen: Jordan Seaton

There was no unit on the team which received more blame for CU’s slide to 4-8 than the offensive line. The Buffs were last in the nation in rushing offense, second-to-last in the nation (129th) in sacks allowed, and 117th in tackles for loss allowed. Wholesale additions were necessary, and Coach Prime, at every opportunity, talked about the lines as being the focus of CU’s Transfer Portal efforts.

Mission … partially accomplished. In the Transfer Portal window, CU was open for business, adding five upper-classmen to the offensive line. Of the five transfers – Yakiri Walker (UConn); Tyler Johnson (Houston); Justin Mayers (UTEP); Kahlil Benson (Indiana); and Phillip Houston (Florida International) – only Benson comes from a Power Five conference school, but most of newcomers were starters at their previous schools, and most are among the highest-rated offensive line transfers this off-season.

The newcomers will be joined by CU’s highest-rated offensive line recruit in school history, five-star prospect Jordan Seaton, together with returning starters Savion Washington, Jack Wilty and Jack Bailey. Oh, and don’t forget Tyler Brown, a Jackson State transfer who the NCAA made sit out the 2023 season, who could be a first day starter for the Buffs this fall.

Power Four or Group of Five? … Until proven otherwise, this remains a Group of Five roster. You can squint through your black-and-gold glasses and foresee a group of six-to-eight players on the roster who could represent a Power Four lineup, but a great deal of work needs to be done. More than any other unit on the team, the offensive line can’t be a collection of individual talent. They need to be able to function as a unit, and putting together that kind of chemistry takes time. Will spring practices and Fall Camp be enough time to put together a quality starting five? To be determined …

Additions between now and August 1st? … Likely, but the pickings are slim. The second Transfer Portal window may yield some quality castoffs from elite schools who are just too deep along the offensive line to get everyone playing time … but the chances of their being a four-star offensive lineman out there – and CU being able to land them – are remote. In fact, it may be a wash come August, with an addition or two being offset by one or two defections.

The offense as a whole … 

Power Four or Group of Five? … Colorado’s skill position talent is going to be among the best in the Big 12. Shedeur Sanders, after spending a year in a conference with Michael Penix, Bo Nix, and Caleb Williams, will now be spending time in a conference competing for attention with the likes of Cam Rising, Jalon Daniels and Noah Fifita. The wide receivers will also be one of the top units in the Big 12, and the running back room has stars in the making. Once again, however, the CU offense will only go as far as the offensive line can take it. Positive steps have certainly been taken, but CU’s offense is far from a complete package.

Additions between now and August 1st? … Most definitely. CU needs a backup quarterback with experience, one or two more running backs, at least one more tight end, and any quality offensive lineman who can be lured to the Champions Center. There will be losses in the roster as well, most likely from the wide receiver corps.

CU can field a decent Power Four offense from the players currently on the roster, but Coach Prime is looking for more than improvement. For Colorado to compete for a Big 12 title, a few more pieces have to be in place.

Fortunately, there is still time to find them.



Guess what London Tube: I will not mind the GAP | by Reem Shraydeh | Medium



7 Replies to “Mind The Gap – Offense”

        1. You guys have to account for the fact that in reality, it probably is closer to 15-20. 5-8 starting caliber dudes, and another 10-12 really good second team guys.

          But? As good as Deion seems to be at identifying and bringing in talent, he’s not going to win em all. Yet.

          So far, seems like linebackers are the biggest remaining need. I doubt they’re done.

          Go Buffs

      1. And that’s just to get to being decent. To be great? Takes like a regular 6-12 nfl players a year.

        Still a ways away from that. But one hell of a lot closer than any time recently.

        Go Buffs

  1. Appreciate the update.
    Would be great if some talented under classmen on the OL and LB spots become available a la programs with coaching changes…

    Mind the Gap…great refeerence and memory of London.
    I didn’t think I would like London but ended up loving it…oddly it felt like home.
    The trains we were on said “mind the gap” over the comm’s and I never forgot it.

  2. You got me thinking about Micah Welch. I remember he had offers from some if the best schools in the country, Georgia included, so I went back to watch his highlights….or the first half of them anyway till I got buffered to death. My server in the stick’s speed has been slow lately.
    The kid certainly has speed. There wasn’t anyone who could stay with him.
    What concerned me was I saw very little lateral movement or running through tackles. This is because I still remember watching Darrell Scott’s high school film when he signed, I think, as the number one player in the country. Scott’s coach had implemented a devastating swinging gate blocking scheme that left Scott untouched for at least the first 10 yards on each play. After he ran past it, though he really didnt have much YAB (yards after block),. Cant really tell by watching several straight line to the goal plays for Welch. Hopefully he will surprise us.
    As far as running we have enough good running backs. Dont forget Offerdahl who can play. We dont, however, have that Csonka/Riggins type battering ram for obvious situations or additional pass protection. Seems like the oft forgotten fullback still helps immensely for teams that succeed with running as well.
    For another QB I hope starting experience isnt the only qualification for selection. Brings me back to Jordan Webb. Seems like “starting experience” was the only excuse for bringing him onboard. For my money Staub is still Number 2 until proven otherwise.

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