CU Buffs’ offensive line flexes muscles against Arizona State

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Mustafa Johnson celebrates a tackle for loss with teammate Drew Lewis on Saturday against Arizona State.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Laviska Shenault reaches for a touchdown on Saturday against Arizona State.



Two years ago, after rushing for 219 yards in a dominating win against Arizona State, Colorado running back Phillip Lindsay brought the entire offensive line to the postgame press conference.

On Saturday, CU quarterback Steven Montez figured it was worth doing again.

Standing behind the seven linemen who blocked throughout the Buffs’ 28-21 victory against ASU, Montez looked like a proud father.

“The O-line played absolutely phenomenal today,” he said, before mentioning that ASU came into the game as one of the national leaders in tackles for loss and sacks. “Today, they only got three tackles for loss and zero sacks. That is absolutely huge for these guys. They played absolutely out of their mind.”

It’s been a bumpy road at times for the Buffs’ line, but that group played its best game of the year.

Senior Josh Kaiser (right tackle), juniors Aaron Haigler (right guard) and Brett Tonz (left guard) and freshmen Colby Pursell (center) and William Sherman (left guard) started, while junior Tim Lynott and freshman Frank Fillip both came off the bench to contribute.

“I can speak for all of us, every single one of them work their (butt) off every day knowing the stunts and stuff,” Tonz said. “It was great.”

The line was especially dominant at the end, helping the Buffs run out the final 7 minutes, 10 seconds.

For a group still trying to get settled, this was an important moment.

“Before the season started,” Haigler said, “we brought everyone together on the offensive line and said, ‘This is going to be the group we have together for the next five or six months.’ We just talked about look, we’re going to be a family This is us every day. Come out here and compete with each other and let’s have each other’s backs.”

On Saturday, they did that, and the it helped the Buffs get an important win.

Big hit

Midway through the third quarter, CU linebacker Drew Lewis was on punt coverage and delivered a crushing blow to ASU punt returner N’Keal Harry, who also happens to be the Sun Devils’ star receiver.

Lewis came from the sidelines to make the hit, but it was legal.

“It was pretty bizarre to be honest,” Lewis said. “I got pushed out of bounds and almost knocked out (CU head coach Mike MacIntyre), actually. I kept on going because I knew the play was still going on. As soon as I got back in bounds, I don’t think (Harry) saw me at all.”

Harry, who caught three passes for 62 yards, was shaken up on the play, and did return, but only as a decoy. He didn’t touch the ball after that hit.

Callier out for season

Outside linebacker Jacob Callier will have season-ending shoulder surgery, the Buffs announced prior to Saturday’s game.

Callier had played in the first four games — with two starts — but with new NCAA rules will be able to use this season as his redshirt year. He will still have three years to play after this season.

“Jacob hurt his shoulder in the very first game against (Colorado State), so he played on it the first four games,” MacIntyre said. “We thought he’d be able to play on it the rest of the year, but it’s really bothering, so he’s getting operated on Tuesday.”

Callier had six tackles and a sack in 80 snaps played this season.

CU also announced that cornerback Mekhi Blackmon will redshirt. He had played in the first four games, mostly on special teams.


CU’s Laviska Shenault has four rushing touchdowns this season. He’s the first CU receiver with that many rushing touchdowns since Mike Pritchard had five in 1990. … Shenault (51 catches) is already tied for the 17th-most catches in an season in CU history. … Saturday’s attendance (52,681) was the highest total at Folsom Field since Oct. 2, 2010, when CU sold 52,855 for a 29-27 victory against Georgia. … Receiver Juwann Winfree (ankle) missed his third consecutive game. … CU has scored in 18 of 20 quarters.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or