Of­fen­sive line still a work in progress

The po­ten­tial is there, but the team hasn’t made the most of it.

The Denver Post - - KICKOFF - By Pat Rooney

BOUL­DER» It is a unit billed as a strength of the team just a few short weeks ago, with some be­liev­ing the Colorado of­fen­sive line had the po­ten­tial to be one of the best in the pro­gram’s long his­tory.

Cer­tainly that po­ten­tial is still there. How­ever, through three games, CU’S of­fen­sive line could prob­a­bly best be de­scribed as a work in progress.

Satur­day’s fi­nal non­con­fer­ence date against North­ern Colorado, a 4121 vic­tory, was sup­posed to mark the be­gin­ning of some sta­bil­ity up front for the Buffs. In­stead, CU played with­out start­ing cen­ter Jonathan Huck­ins and, for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive week against smaller op­po­si­tion, the Buffs were forced to make ad­just­ments on the fly.

Tim Lynott shifted from his usual right guard spot to take over Huck­ins’ du­ties at cen­ter, while Aaron Haigler moved from right tackle to right guard. Left tackle Jeromy Ir­win made his first start of the sea­son after be­ing sus­pended for the first two games. His re­place­ment dur­ing that time, Josh Kaiser, took over at right tackle.

In short, head­ing into a show­down against No. 6 Wash­ing­ton in a re­match of last year’s Pac-12 Con­fer­ence ti­tle game, the Buffs still have yet to field the en­tirety the highly ex­pe­ri­enced of­fen­sive line they ex­pected to fea­ture in 2017.

Coach Mike Mac­in­tyre said Huck­ins did not prac­tice most of the week due to an in­jury but was avail­able if nec­es­sary.

“As the naked eye goes, I thought they played pretty well. We had a cou­ple hold­ing calls,” Mac­in­tyre said. “We’ll look at it. Jon has played guard and cen­ter for us, so he can play mul­ti­ple spots and so has Timmy. We’ll di­ag­nose what is best for us to beat Wash­ing­ton and we’ll di­ag­nose how healthy we are. It does give us op­tions and good op­tions. (Huck­ins) could have gone. He didn’t prac­tice at all un­til Fri­day. He was cleared. If Timmy would have got­ten hurt, he would have been able to play. He should be full speed this week.”

Ir­win’s re­turn was a wel­come one for the Buffs, who al­lowed quar­ter­back Steven Mon­tez to be sacked just once after he was sacked a to­tal of seven times in the first two games. And after strug­gling to open holes in the run­ning game last week against Texas State (91 rush­ing yards on 41 at­tempts), CU’S of­fen­sive line paved the way for 212 rush­ing yards against UNC on 39 at­tempts.

“It felt great just be­ing out on the field,” Ir­win said. “I wasn’t on the field much and it’s nice to be out there and have a pres­ence. It’s go­ing to have to take ev­ery­body do­ing their job. To­day we had a lot of penal­ties that need to be cleaned up. Some of them were ques­tion­able, but the refs did a great job. We’re go­ing to have to look at film to see what we did wrong.

“It doesn’t re­ally mat­ter what people say, it mat­ters how we play. We cleaned up some sacks this week. I had to shake off some rust, but over­all as a group when I’m out there it’s more of a phys­i­cal pres­ence.”

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