After this season, the Buffs will lose three starting offensive linemen to graduation: left tackle Jeromy Irwin, left guard Gerrad Kough and center Jonathan Huckins.
Despite losing that group, the Buffs are excited about their future up front. The 2017 recruiting class included the best group of linemen signed by CU in years.
"I think there's definitely a lot of ability," line coach Klayton Adams said. "We'll have to go through an offseason to really know."
That group includes Colby Pursell, who traveled with the team most of the season as an emergency option at center. The fact that he traveled "speaks a lot to his maturity, physically and mentally," Adams said.
Throughout the season, the Buffs have also seen good things in practice from freshmen Chance Lytle, Heston Paige, Grant Polley and William Sherman. They're expected to add grayshirt Casey Roddick in January.
In addition, true freshman Jake Moretti hopes to be healthy in time for spring drills. After missing his senior year at Pomona High School with a knee injury, Moretti arrived at CU in January, but missed spring drills and has not practiced this fall.
"There's definitely a large group of guys there that we're excited to develop, but we have to go through an offseason and see what they do in spring ball and see what they do in winter conditioning and see how their bodies change, see how they adapt to the offense, see how they grow fundamentally," Adams said.
Guard/center Tim Lynott Jr., will be the most experienced lineman next year as a junior, but he will be out next spring as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles' tendon. That will leave tackles Josh Kaiser and Isaac Miller, guard/tackle Aaron Haigler and guard/center Brett Tonz as the veterans of the group, with junior-to-be Dillon Middlemiss and sophomore-to-be Hunter Vaughn also fighting for playing time.
The freshmen have spent most of this season working with the scout team, and Adams said the bye week will allow coaches to work with the young linemen more on CU's offense. Reaching a bowl game and getting 15 extra practices in December could help that group grow even more.
Adams has gained a lot more confidence in Tonz as the year has progressed. Last offseason, Tonz, a redshirt sophomore, converted from the defensive line.
Through the first 10 games, Tonz had played 63 snaps, all at guard, with 43 of those coming at Washington State on Oct. 21. He has also practiced at center.
"He's been coming on every week," Adams said. "Had he had to go into a game for 60 or 70 snaps early in the season I wouldn't have felt as good about it. At this point in the year, I'm definitely much more confident in him. He's done a really good job of learning all the interior pieces."
This has been an up and down year for sophomore quarterback Steven Montez, but he's putting up some good numbers.
With one game to play, Montez ranks in the top 10 of CU's single-season leaders for passing yards (fourth, 2,780), touchdown passes (tied for seventh, 18), completion percentage (ninth, 61.3) and QB rating (10th, 140.1).
Montez is also top 10 in completions and attempts, and his interception rate (one for every 38.78 throws) is ninth-best among the 31 QBs that have had 200 or more attempts in a season.