Mike MacIntyre finally gave fans of the Colorado football program a look at how he sees his team shaping up when the program released a depth chart Monday heading into Friday's season opener against Colorado State.
In what will surely be seen as gamesmanship in Fort Collins, MacIntyre made sure to point out the depth chart could change between Monday and 7 p.m. Friday when the Buffs and Rams kick off the 2014 season at Sports Authority Field in Denver.
"That depth chart is fluid as it can be," MacIntyre said
There were two surprises and both related to injuries.
Junior defensive end Tyler Henington is out for the season with a torn ACL in his knee, an injury MacIntyre said happened in a non-contact situation during practice last week. Henington had missed a sizeable chunk of camp with an ankle injury he suffered on the first day of practices earlier this month.
"It's a big loss," MacIntyre said. "... I feel bad for Tyler. The silver lining is that is he does have a redshirt. So both guys we lost to ACLs, they weren't career-ending and they didn't lose a year of eligibility."
CU previously lost senior safety Jered Bell to the second torn ACL of his career. He plans to petition the NCAA for the sixth year of eligibility.
The other surprise was sophomore Chidobe Awuzie being listed as the starting free safety in the Buffs' base defense, a spot previously occupied by Bell. Awuzie is also the Buffs' starting nickleback when they open games in that formation, typically against spread offenses.
"He's got a lot of versatility, good football player," MacIntyre said. "We need to keep him on the field."
With Henington out, the Buffs go into the season with sophomore Jimmie Gilbert listed as one starting defensive end and redshirt freshman Derek McCartney as the other starter. Their backups are sophomore De'Jon Wilson, who has played sparingly to this point in his career, redshirt freshman Timothy Coleman and true freshman Christian Shaver and Michael Mathewes.
"They'll make their mistakes being freshmen, but I think they're all athletic enough and good enough to play," MacIntyre said. "The oldest guy in the group is a sophomore. So we'll see what happens."
McCartney, the grandson of legendary CU coach Bill McCartney, is the only CU defensive starter who will be making his college debut against the Rams, assuming the depth chart holds up this week.
"I'm excited," McCartney said. "It's a great opportunity. I haven't played football, a game, since 2011. So I'm just excited to get out there. Whether I can start, that's just whatever. I just want to play.
"As for the team the D-ends, yeah, we're young, but our coaches are doing really well with us and we're learning a lot fast and I think we're going to be ready."
The only two Buffs listed on the first team offense who will be making their college debut against the Rams are wide receiver Bryce Bobo and fullback George Frazier. Both are redshirt freshman.
There are nine true freshman listed on the depth chart released Monday. Of those nine, those most likely to play against the Rams are wide receivers Shay Fields and Donovan Lee, safety Evan White and defensive linemen Shaver and Mathewes.
MacIntyre said the strength of the CSU team looking at it on paper is senior quarterback Garrett Grayson and his receivers. "I know they'll run the football because that's what they like to do," MacIntyre said. "So we've to be ready for that. But their receivers are very talented and their quarterback is extremely talented."