After seven years in the same location and 11 years with the same boss, Chris Kapilovic has stepped out of his comfort zone this year.

Colorado's new offensive line coach has been enjoying the change of scenery so far.

"It's been good," said Kapilovic, who was hired by first-year CU head coach Mel Tucker in December. "I love being on the field and I love this group. I was talking the other day about how hungry these guys are to not only just learn and be coached, but they really want to be good and they want to win."

Kapilovic is used to winning. Working under head coach Larry Fedora for four years at Southern Mississippi (2008-11) and seven years at North Carolina (2012-18), Kapilovic helped his teams to bowls in eight of the last 11 years.

UNC fired Fedora after last season, leaving Kapilovic seeking another opportunity. He found not only an opportunity, but a new challenge, in Boulder, where he's working with Tucker for the first time and reunited with offensive coordinator Jay Johnson. From 1999-2000, Johnson was an assistant coach at Kansas, while Kapilovic was a graduate assistant for the Jayhawks.

"I was basically with the same head coach for 11 years, so kind of the same system," he said. "It challenged me (coming to CU), bringing this offense together, some stuff we did (at North Carolina), stuff Jay did and stuff they did here before.


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"It has forced me to really learn some terminology for what we call formations and some of the calls we use. It kind of revitalizes you and forces you to think and see things a different way and grow as a coach. I'm excited about that."

Several CU linemen have expressed their appreciation for Kapilovic's approach in the early going of spring football.

"I think coach Kap has already done a great job in his short time of being here of coaching us all up," redshirt freshman Kanan Ray said. "He's fine-tuned a lot of things for me already, so I just have to keep on grinding and keep on taking everything in he has to tell me."

Kapilovic is still getting to know his players at CU and has stressed daily competition within the group.

"I'm hoping I can change the depth chart daily, weekly so there's some real competition and guys are trying to take each other's jobs on a daily basis," he said.

Just like Kapilovic, the players have embraced the change and the challenge as they go through spring practices.

"They haven't second-guessed anything, and they really are accepting the challenge," Kapilovic said. "That makes it fun to go out there. It's great to have a group of kids that really want to be good and want to win and they're willing to put the work in."

Fueled by competition

Receiver KD Nixon said he's enjoying working against cornerbacks Delrick Abrams Jr. and Dante Wigley in practice every day.

"We're really competing," Nixon said. "Me and Slim (Abrams) are going at it every day; me and Dante are going at it every day. I know it's probably not a big deal to others, but Slim and Dante have made me one of the best receivers in the country."

Nixon, a junior, said he's been impressed with the defense being installed by Tucker and new defensive coordinator Tyson Summers.

Stepping up

Tony Brown, the lone senior receiver on the team, is off to a great start this spring.

"Tony Brown, to me, has been the most consistent guy," receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini said. "Every practice he shows up and makes plays. He knows what to do, he doesn't really bust a whole lot. I've been excited about him."

Last season, his first with CU, Brown was third on the team in catches (32) and receiving yards (333), while scoring one touchdown.

Originally recruited by Chiaverini to Texas Tech, Brown played two seasons with the Red Raiders (2015-16), catching a total of 27 passes for 378 yards and one touchdown.

Notable

CU took the weekend off from practice, but will return to the field on Monday morning. ... The spring game is set for noon on April 27 at Folsom Field.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33