Two years ago, the constant shuffling of offensive linemen proved to be one of the main problems for the Colorado football team, which went 4-9 in 2015.
Going into the 2017 season, CU head coach Mike MacIntyre is confident enough in his linemen that he thinks some shuffling would be good for the Buffs.
Four starters are back from a line that was much improved in helping CU go 10-4 and win the Pac-12 South last year, and the young talent is as good as it's been in years.
With preseason camp just a month away, the Buffs aren't sure who will wind up as their starting five linemen, but they like their options.
"If we can (rotate linemen) this year, we can keep them fresh and fast," MacIntyre said this spring. "As many plays as we play, that'll give us an advantage."
Guards Gerrad Kough and Tim Lynott and tackles Jeromy Irwin and Aaron Haigler are all returning starters from last year.
Then, there's senior Jonathan Huckins, who is projected to start at center. Huckins has never started a game at center, but he's got 14 starts and over 1,000 snaps played at guard over the past two years.
"I think we have a lot of experience," Huckins said recently. "That's the one thing that this line is going to be packed full of is experience, but I think experience together is going to be the biggest thing."
During the next couple of weeks, BuffZone.com will take a look at each position group for the Buffaloes. In this installment, we take a look at the offensive line.
Position: Offensive line
Returnees: Mo Bandi (So., 6-5, 265); Justin Eggers (So., 6-5, 310); Aaron Haigler (So., 6-7, 280); Jonathan Huckins (Sr., 6-4, 310); Jeromy Irwin (Sr., 6-5, 300); Josh Kaiser (Jr., 6-5, 295); Gerrad Kough (Sr., 6-4, 295); Tim Lynott (So., 6-3, 200); Dillon Middlemiss (So., 6-5, 295); Isaac Miller (So., 6-7, 280); Kolter Smith (Fr., 6-2, 285); Brett Tonz (So., 6-3, 290); Hunter Vaughn (Fr., 6-7, 290).
Additions: Chance Lytle (Fr., 6-7, 310); Jake Moretti (Fr., 6-4, 270); Heston Paige (Fr., 6-5, 270); Grant Polley (Fr., 6-4, 265); Colby Pursell (Fr., 6-4, 285); Casey Roddick (Fr., 6-4, 340); William Sherman (Fr., 6-3, 295).
Losses: Shane Callahan (graduated); Alex Kelley (graduated); Sam Kronshage (graduated and elected to forego final season); John Lisella II (graduated and elected to forego final season); Colin Sutton (graduated and elected to forego final season); Sully Wiefels (graduated).
2016 recap: After a difficult and injury-plagued 2015 season, the Buffs' offensive line was much better last year. They gave up just 28 sacks (compared to 41 the year before) and improved their yards per rushing attempt to 4.12 (up from 3.75 in 2015). Lineup consistency helped, as the Buffs were fairly healthy up front. Right guard Tim Lynott started the entire season, while left tackle Jeromy Irwin and center Alex Kelley started all but one game. At left guard, Gerrad Kough started the first 10 games before an ankle injury let to Jonathan Huckins taking over. And, at right tackle, the Buffs worked out a solid job share between Aaron Haigler and Sam Kronshage. Even with some lineup shuffling, the Buffs had good chemistry in Klayton Adams' first season as the offensive line coach.
2017 outlook: The Buffs' most experienced lineup would have Irwin at left tackle, Kough at left guard, Huckins at center, Lynott at right guard and Haigler at right tackle. Together, that group has 83 career starts. There's a decent chance that's how the Buffs will line up when the season begins Sept. 1 against Colorado State. However, there is enough talent behind those five to make preseason camp interesting. Kough missed all of spring ball with an ankle injury, which pushed Irwin to left guard. Irwin is likely a guard if he's going to play in the NFL, and he could be a guard this season for the Buffs. Kaiser spent much of the spring at left tackle was named CU's most improved offensive lineman. MacIntyre has said Miller can be "special" if he's healthy. Kaiser and/or Miller are sure to push for starting jobs at tackle. Another wild card is Moretti. He might be the best true freshman lineman at CU since Ryan Miller (and some think he can be better). He missed his senior year of high school — and spring ball — with a torn ACL, but if he's healthy, he could certainly push for playing time. Tonz moved from defensive line in the spring and the Buffs liked what he did at guard, and he could play center, as well. There's a ton of potential with the freshmen, too. Roddick may wind up as a grayshirt, which means he won't arrive until January. Overall, this appears to be CU's deepest and most talented line in years - certainly since MacIntyre arrived in 2013.