It would have been easy for Jonathan Huckins to be more than a little distracted from the task at hand this past week.
But football always has been an outlet for Colorado's senior center. And so the concerns he harbored all week for loved ones back in his native Texas were channeled into action during the Buffaloes' season-opening 17-3 win against rival Colorado State Friday night at Sports Authority Field.
Neither of Huckins' parents were able to travel to the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown. And Huckins spent as much time preparing for the Rams this week as he did checking the reports from the vast devastation caused by Tropical Storm Harvey back home.
"It was a little scary when I was hearing all the Category 4 stuff. Both my parents' flights got canceled," said Huckins, who is from The Woodlands, Texas. "So they weren't able to come to the game, which is upsetting. My mom and my dad both evacuated. My dad lives nearer Houston, so he probably got the worst of it. I'm just praying for them. They're all fine, which is awesome.
"The home situation, my dad left his. But his is in downtown Houston, so he doesn't really know what the status of his house is. But my mother got like six inches, and my brother didn't get anything."
Huckins moved from guard to center this year to fortify what is being billed as one of the best CU offensive lines in more than a decade, but the unit only looked that part in fits and starts against the Rams. Huckins and Co. cleared enough holes for running back Phillip Lindsay to churn out 140 yards on 19 carries, but quarterback Steven Montez endured enough heat to get thrown for five sacks.
"I think the biggest thing, especially for the offensive line, is communication," Huckins said. "That obviously starts with me. I've got to help communicate better. I've got to get guys in the right call faster. I think we've got to move at a faster tempo next game as well. We kind of simmered off and I think we could've really pushed it on them if we went a little faster."