Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
No. 21 Colorado (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) vs. Arizona State (3-2, 1-1)
When: Saturday, 2 p.m.
Where: Folsom Field in Boulder
TV: Pac-12 Network
Since the start of the 2016 season, Tim Lynott has been the rock of the Colorado offensive line.
Prior to Friday night, Lynott had started 27 of the Buffaloes’ previous 29 games, missing only the final two games of the 2017 season with an Achilles’ tendon injury.
During the Buffs’ 38-16 win against UCLA, however, the junior right guard stood on the sidelines. For the first time in his career, he was a healthy backup.
“Timmy’s been doing well,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said after practice Monday. “Some of the other guys have been playing a little bit better.”
Although undefeated and ranked No. 21 in the country, the Buffs (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) are still a work in progress up front. They continue to strive to find their best group as they go into Saturday’s matchup with Arizona State (3-2, 1-1).
Aaron Haigler – the right tackle in Games 1-3 – started in Lynott’s place at right guard against UCLA. Sophomore Kary Kutsch has also played at right guard. And, of course, Lynott remains an option there.
“Timmy is a key part of our football team,” MacIntyre said, pointing out that Lynott can play guard or center. “He just needs to keep working and we’re just trying to work and find the best ways. Timmy is a special part of our team and he’ll continue to compete and he’ll have big roles in the future, because he’ll just keep working.”
Lynott will keep working, but the Buffs have shown early this season a desire to get their young, talented offensive linemen up to speed in a hurry.
Freshman Colby Pursell has started all four games at center and is the only CU lineman to start all year in the same spot. Freshman William Sherman made his first career start at left tackle against UCLA; that pushed senior Josh Kaiser to right tackle, and Haigler inside to guard.
At times during the UCLA game, the Buffs went with true freshman Frank Fillip instead of Kaiser at right tackle, giving them three freshmen on the field at once.
“I thought he did well in the game last week,” MacIntyre said of Fillip. “He hurt his ankle our first practice (in August) and it set him back. If he hadn’t hurt his ankle, he might have been in there a lot earlier. I feel like he’s an excellent talent and we’re going to keep pushing him along. He did a good stride in the New Hampshire game, he did a good stride this week. We’ll keep pushing him to play.”
A fourth freshman – guard Jake Moretti – started at left guard against New Hampshire and has perhaps more potential than any of the other youngsters.
While the Buffs have four veterans – Lynott, Haigler, Kaiser and left guard Brett Tonz – up front, they’ve given their four freshmen, as well as Kutsch, opportunities.
“This is the most athletic line we’ve had,” MacIntyre said. “Some of it is young, but if they play some, they could be really good too. I feel we have enough athletic guys and big guys who can understand it that hopefully we’ve got enough depth. Sometimes you say you play five (all the time), but really if you’ve got seven or eight that can play and you can rotate them in when people get nicked up and things happen, you’re a better football team as the year goes along.
“That’s what I think we’ll be on the offensive line.”
Ranked, but no big deal
The Buffs have entered the Top 25 rankings for the first time since 2016, but MacIntyre is hardly celebrating.
“We’ve got to just keep moving forward,” he said. “If we keep doing what we want to do, we’ll stay ranked; if we don’t do what we want to do, we won’t stay ranked. It’s just that simple.”
USC game time set
CU’s game at Southern California on Oct. 13 has been slated for an 8:30 p.m. MT kickoff from the Los Angeles Coliseum. The game – CU’s third night kickoff of the season – will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1.
MacIntyre said he estimates the CU defensive backs have dropped 10 interceptions. “We’ve got to make those plays,” he said. “We’re going to work extra drills all week this week, every single day.” … The first two times the Buffs played their backup quarterbacks (against Colorado State and New Hampshire), it was sophomore Sam Noyer first off the bench. Against, UCLA, it was freshman Tyler Lytle getting the backup snaps. MacIntyre said that doesn’t mean there’s a change on the depth chart. “We’re doing it week to week and they’re both competing hard,” he said. “They’re both going to have to be ready.” … Pac-12 players of the week: Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin (offense); Oregon safety Ugochukwu Amadi (defense); and USC safety Marvell Tell III (special teams).