CU football: Offensive line still a major work in progress

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Aaron Haigler has been one of several players who have stepped up during spring drills, offensive line coach Klayton Adams said.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado offensive linemen Shane Callahan, right, and Jonathan Huckins are battling for starting jobs this spring.



Line depth

As Colorado goes through spring drills, nobody has earned a starting spot on the offensive line, and competition for all five spots will continue into the fall. Here is a projected look at how the depth chart could look this fall:

Projected starters

LT – Jeromy Irwin, Jr., 6-5, 300

LG – Gerrad Kough, Jr., 6-4, 290

C – Alex Kelley, Sr., 6-2, 315

RG – Tim Lynott, R-Fr., 6-2, 300

RT – Shane Callahan, Sr., 6-6, 310

Projected backups

G/C – Jonathan Huckins, Jr., 6-4, 310

G – Josh Kaiser, So., 6-5, 290

G – John Lisella II, So., 6-4, 295

G – Sully Wiefels, Sr., 6-3, 315

T – Aaron Haigler, R-Fr., 6-7, 270

T – Sam Kronshage, Jr., 6-6, 280

T – Isaac Miller, R-Fr., 6-7, 270

In his first spring as Colorado’s offensive line coach, Klayton Adams is seeing a lot of good individual effort from his players.

Individual success is not what Adams and the Buffaloes are striving for, however. As the Buffs head into the final stretch of spring ball, Adams wants to see more growth as a line unit.

“I think generally the attitude that they’re going to show up and work is good,” Adams said. “Overall, we have to be a more cohesive unit and we have to be mentally tougher. Until we get there, none of this stuff we do is going to matter. The scheme is not going to matter. The fundamentals and the mentality of being an offensive line are what make you good.”

An all-conference center at Boise State years ago, Adams understands the cohesive nature of the offense line. For him, it’s been quite a change from the past three years, when he coached CU’s running backs and tight ends, where he was trying to develop great individuals.

“It has to be like one piece of steel; five guys. (Offensive line) is so much different than any other position in that way, because really, it’s one position,” Adams said. “It’s like one player with five people and 10 legs.”

Now 10 practices into the spring, Adams said he likes the talent he has to work with. He’s been pleased with how several individuals have stepped up, including redshirt freshman center/guard Tim Lynott, junior left guard Gerrad Kough and tackle Aaron Haigler.

That individual growth is just a small part of CU’s main goal.

“When you think about offensive line play and what makes that group good, it’s the mentality of the position and being a cohesive unit, and we’ve got a long way to go in those areas,” he said. “I think you can start seeing the pieces come together. That’s probably an area that I’d like to see happen a little bit faster than it is.”

Progress is a little slow because the Buffs are still trying to figure out starting roles and who fits best at each spot.

Veteran left tackle Jeromy Irwin is not participating this spring as he continues his recovery from a torn ACL suffered last spring. With Irwin out, the Buffs have tried a number of players, including Shane Callahan, Haigler, Sam Kronshage and Isaac Miller, at the two tackle spots.

Junior left guard Gerrad Kough is one of the few who have spent the entire spring in one spot, and he appears to have a stronghold on the starting job. Several others, including Jonathan Huckins, Josh Kaiser, John Lisella II and Sully Wiefels, are battling for time at guard.

At center, Tim Lynott has spent a lot of the spring with the No. 1 offense, but returning starter Alex Kelley is a senior who fill fight to keep his job. Meanwhile, Huckins has started working at center and could be a factor there. If Lynott doesn’t win the job at center, he could slot into a starting role at guard.

“I’d say there’s like 12 guys that are fighting for a starting job,” Adams said. “Everything is a legit competition.”

While individual roles are up for grabs, CU is looking for those moments when a guard and tackle, or a set of three linemen, team up for perfect execution.

Kough believes the Buffs are on their way.

“We’re communicating better and we’re starting to jell a little bit more,” Kough said.

Communication is only part of the equation. The Buffs need linemen who are mentally tough “to do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to get the job done,” Adams said.

Throughout the spring, Kough has seen that “lineman mentality” get better in the Buffs.

“We’ve just been stressing the mentality of being an offensive lineman,” Kough said. “Going out there and being physical. As long as we keep progressing with that, I feel like we’ll do a lot better next season.”

Luckily for the Buffs, the season doesn’t start for another five months. They may need all of that time to finalize their depth chart.

“You’ve got to try to find those few reps in practice where all five guys do the right thing schematically, do the right thing technique-wise, do the right thing effort-wise,” Adams said. “As you get toward the end of the spring, you need to see more and more reps like that.

“We’re a work in progress and I think we’re definitely taking some strides.”

Brian Howell:, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.