Bernardi
Gary Bernardi

Gary Bernardi is an old-school offensive line coach. He wholeheartedly believes any offense is only going to go as far as the offensive line takes it.

It makes sense. Bernardi has been coaching college football for 33 years now, 32 of them with the big guys up front.

So it's safe to say there is no one involved in the Colorado football program -- not even coach Mike MacIntyre -- who is putting more pressure on Bernardi and his players and feeling more pressure to produce great results than Bernardi.

"I feel like each game we've done a good job improving, taking little steps getting better," Bernardi said. "They're not astronomical or giant. They're small steps forward every week."

The Buffs will officially reach the halfway point of their first season being coached by MacIntyre and Bernardi and the rest of the staff after this week's home game against Charleston Southern (12:07 p.m., Pac-12 Network) at Folsom Field.

So far, it has been a mixed bag when it comes to the results the offensive line has produced leading to inconsistency for the offense as a whole.

The Buffs started strong passing the ball against Colorado State and Central Arkansas but struggled to run well. In the past three games against Pac-12 competition, neither part of the offense has been stellar but there have been positive moments on which to build.


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The CU offense has scored a total of 46 points in the past three games combined. Two of those three opponents scored more than that in beating the Buffs. The running game is ranked 110th in the nation averaging just 108 yards a game.

The Buffs are 86th in total offense and 87th in scoring offense and their once-strong passing numbers have been dropping like a stone in calm water, which is a big reason true freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau is now at the controls.

Before the season started a concern for the offensive line was staying healthy because there isn't a lot of experienced depth behind the starters. The Buffs couldn't ask for better luck on the injury front to this point. The same five offensive lineman have started each game.

"You can't really simulate those game reps and I feel like the more game reps we get, the more we come together as a group," center Gus Handler said. "We're better at communicating and better at knowing where each other is going to be."

Yet, there have been too many moments where the Buffs suffer breakdowns, which have led to incompletions, negative-yardage plays and even turnovers. The bottom line is the line still needs to reach another level of play and consistency for the team to be more competitive.

Bernardi gave a one-word answer -- "communication" -- when asked how he would like to see his group improve and take a step forward this week.

Bernardi gives his players a test every Friday night and he said he has seen marked improvement in the results of those tests each week since the Friday night before the season opener.

"I'd like to think we're well prepared," Bernardi said. "I think the kids do a good job. They do some extra meeting time. They watch extra film. I have them fill out extra blocking sheets and they're very, very good about that. I really like working with them because they do extra things. I think some times in this position, you have to do extra things. They do whatever I ask them to do."

Contact staff writer Kyle Ringo at ringok@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/kyleringo.