Colorado doesn’t have the luxury of going into next football season with a bunch of experience on its offensive line.
Instead, the Buffaloes are counting on competition within the group to fuel the line. With that in mind, co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Klayton Adams feels the Buffs got better last week with the addition of Kary Kutsch, a versatile tackle from Butte (Calif.) College.
The late addition of Kutsch was in response to the Buffs losing tackle Isaac Miller to medical retirement this spring.
“I don’t think in that type of situation you just go out and grab just anybody,” Adams said. “You go out and say, ‘Is there someone who is good enough to compete for a starting job?’ Luckily, in my opinion, we found somebody who is good enough to compete for a position in our group.”
The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Kutsch, who can also play guard, fills a need for depth. His signing is also a testament to the fact that the Buffs truly are a work in progress on the line, with several spots up for grabs.
“What we really have to hammer down is who are our top eight going to be,” Adams said, “and how can we find the most consistent, nasty guys that communicate without having to stop and slow down the offense to get things done.”
Kutsch gives Adams and the Buffs another option in that battle for the eight spots, and it’s a battle that will be waged throughout the summer and August training camp – if not even into the season.
Particularly at tackle, the Buffs have just two players – senior Josh Kaiser and junior Aaron Haigler – with significant playing experience.
Haigler has 1,311 career snaps and 16 starts over the past two years. Ten of those starts have come at right tackle, but he played most of last season at right guard. Haigler might be more equipped to solidify a starting spot than ever before, however.
“There were a lot of people that made big jumps (in the spring) and generally what people look for and expect is someone who hasn’t played or maybe hasn’t played a lot to make the bigger jumps,” Adams said, “but really in my opinion, the biggest jump in the entire group might have been made by Aaron Haigler.
“What we set off to do in this offseason with him, let’s go from being a freshman who is just out there doing everything he can and a sophomore who is sometimes struggling and sometimes doing things to become a consistently dominant player. He’s not there yet, but he took steps in that direction.”
Kaiser, who has 502 career snaps and five starts (all last year), continues to progress, as well.
“If anybody went back and watched the last three or four games of last season, Josh Kaiser really continued to improve as the season went along,” Adams said. “He did a good job last season and had a good spring.”
The best of the bunch at tackle might be redshirt freshman Jake Moretti, but he hasn’t played a game since his junior season at Pomona High School, in 2015. Injuries have plagued him since, but he finally got on the field in team drills late this spring.
Adams said Moretti continues to do all he can to get healthy and added, “There’s not a lot of guys that are where he was with that injury that are squatting 500 pounds and having no problems with it.”
Beyond that group, the Buffs could use junior Dillon Middlemiss (31 career snaps), sophomore Hunter Vaughn, redshirt freshman William Sherman or true freshman Frank Fillip at tackle.
With every player fighting for spots on the depth chart, however, there are question marks. Adding Kutsch to the mix at least gives the Buffs another player with college experience.
While Adams said it’s difficult to project how Kutsch will fare with the Buffs, he said, “I was really impressed with what I saw him do in practice at Butte College.”
If Kutsch can impress Adams and the coaches in practice at CU, the intensity of the group should go up a notch or two.
“I think there’s going to be really good competition for (starting roles),” Adams said. “There’s definitely the ability to be good at those spots.