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Projected Colorado Two-Deep: The Offensive Line

Henry Chisholm Avatar
May 10, 2020

There was no spring football.

We don’t need to dig into everything we’ve missed out on because there was no spring football, but one of the big ones is a depth chart. Typically, the first two-deep of the year is released shortly after the end of camp and, for the most part, it’s about what you’ll see during the season.

Here’s what last year’s looked like:

There were a few changes, notably that Alex Tchangham surpassed Nu’umotu Falo Jr. in fall camp, but it was largely accurate.

Since the new coaching staff hasn’t had a chance to work closely with its players, there was no way it could put together a depth chart, so I did. Every Sunday I’ll share a new piece of the two-deep I developed, starting today with the offensive line.

Here’s how I see the line shaking out, with the starter listed first and the backup second:

Left Tackle: William Sherman (Jr.), Jake Wray (Fr.)

Left Guard:  Kary Kutsch (Sr.), Chance Lytle (Jr.)

Center: Josh Jynes (So.), Carson Lee (Fr.)

Right Guard: Colby Pursell (Jr.), Casey Roddick (So.)

Right Tackle: Frank Fillip (So.), Austin Johnson (R-Fr.)

Let’s start with the top: William Sherman is the clear leader of this group. With a strong 2020 campaign, Sherman may have the opportunity to leave school early in favor of the NFL. If not, he’s still in a pretty good spot in terms of the 2022 draft.

The question with Sherman is where he’ll play. Sherman held down the right tackle spot in 2019, opposite Arlington Hambright. But now that Hambright is a Chicago Bear, Sherman may flip to the left side of the line, as that’s typically where a team will put its best tackle.

The competition for the second starting tackle job is fairly open, though Frank Fillip is the clear favorite to land the job. Fillip was the third true freshman in CU history to start a game at tackle, back in 2018, but when Hambright transferred to Boulder after the season, Fillip was effectively blocked for the 2019 campaign.

Without seeing much from Fillip over the last 18 months, there’s no way of knowing how much he’s developed. Austin Johnson received some praise from coaches last season but will likely have to wait before cracking the Buffs’ lineup. True freshman Jake Wray could surprise and make a run for the job himself, though he’ll likely need at least a year in the weight room to be ready.

If Fillip lands the job, he may profile better on the left side of the line than the right. He’s long and lean at 6-foot-7 and just under 300 pounds, and he may hold up better against speed rushers on the left side than as a road-grader on the right side. Plus, if Karl Dorrell wants to build his team’s identity on the ground, putting his best blocker on the right side of the line where the team is going to run behind him more often may make sense.

I projected Sherman on the left side because that’s still the most important position on the Buffs’ line — even if they want to run the ball a lot — and Sherman is the best lineman.

Expect Sherman to be one starter and either Fillip to be the second starter. The battle for the No. 3 tackle job should be a tight one.

The interior of the line provides some intrigue as well.

Kary Kutsch and Colby Pursell are penciled in at the starting guard spots, where Kutsch served all last season and Pursell served for four. Casey Roddick is the likely swing guard in case the other two get hurt, but he has starting experience and could compete for one of the jobs. He started two games as a redshirt freshman in 2019.

At 6-foot-7 and 320 pounds, Chance Lytle could be ready for a promotion from special teams to regular offensive duties, but he sits behind the three aforementioned guards on my depth chart. Lytle’s easiest path to the field may be winning the No. 3 tackle job, rather than a depth spot inside. He certainly has the size to do so.

At center, Josh Jynes is the frontrunner to take over. The Buffs credited Jynes with 15 offensive snaps over three appearances as a redshirt freshman in 2019. The 300-pounder is bright enough to man the middle of the line, but we just don’t have much film on him so it’s tough to gauge whether there’s a gap between him and his competition. It won’t hurt that he was. the No. 20 center prospect in the nation in 2018 as a three-star recruit.

Carson Lee could give Jynes a run for his money. Lee is a true freshman, but he’s already bigger than Jynes, though he may still need to add strength before he’s ready to perform. Lee has enrolled at CU and would have participated in spring ball, which would have put him in position to develop while making his case to coaches. He likely would have been listed No. 2 on this chart anyway.

Lee and Jynes are on similar timelines at the same position, which makes this battle more interesting. If Jynes wins, he’ll likely start three seasons at center. If Lee wins, he could start all four. The loser will likely slide into one of the guard spots, but don’t expect that to happen until 2021 at the earliest.

Heston Paige is a dark horse. He’s a senior center who hasn’t seen the field much during his time at CU. There’s not much of a book on him, but he could be a contender considering the youth of the Buffs’ other centers.

So that’s all of the offensive line info, but don’t forget that the Buffs tried multiple different five-man combinations during fall camp and into the early stages of the season. This could be the case again.

Watch for guys like Casey Roddick or Colby Pursell to take some reps at center.

Check back next Sunday for the next edition of the Buffs’ projected two-deep.

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