The layoff was significant for Casey Roddick.
It basically had been three full years since he last stepped on a football field for an official game, a drought that ended when Roddick was summoned off the bench to reinforce a struggling Colorado Buffaloes offensive line during last week’s 30-23 overtime loss against Air Force.
Three years removed from a competitive setting is more than enough to coat any player with a few layers of rust, and it was no different for Roddick last week when offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic finally called his number against the Falcons.
“Obviously it was a blessing to get out there. It’s my first action since high school,” said Roddick, a redshirt freshman from Ventura, Calif. “It’s been a long process. Overall, we didn’t get the W, so I don’t feel like I did my job correctly. Game speed, totally different. It’s what you do off the field that’s going to impact your play on the field. So that’s in the playbook, in your studies and everything. Knowing your opponent and knowing what they’re going to do on each and every play, knowing the coverages and everything.”
The 6-foot-4, 330-pound Roddick was a part of CU’s 2017 recruiting class, but grayshirted and delayed his arrival until the spring semester in 2018. He suffered a knee injury midway through his first spring drills with the Buffs, a setback that kept him listed as injured for the first four games of the 2018 season. Roddick eventually dressed for seven games but didn’t play.
Roddick was expected to push for playing time this season, but he played just seven snaps in the season-opening win against Colorado State. He didn’t play at all against Nebraska, though with starting guard Colby Pursell struggling with an injury that limited him to just 15 plays against Air Force, Roddick finally got his chance.
Roddick logged 60 snaps against the Falcons, though whatever personal satisfaction he gleaned from getting back into the trenches was offset by a struggling Buffs offense that produced season-low marks in points (23) and total yards (325). AFA also posted two sacks of CU quarterback Steven Montez.
“Watching film, definitely have to work on a lot of things. But preparation is the same,” Roddick said. “You’ve got to prep like you’re a starter. It’s still the same mindset on the field. It’s hard work and dedication on the field. Every single play, it’s like coach Kap tells us — every play is fourth-and-one. You’ve got to have that mindset every single play. Preparation is still the same. Whether I’m on the two-deep or starting, it’s still the same.”
It remains to be seen just how much Roddick will contribute in 2019, but if Pursell remains less than 100 percent this week, chances are Roddick will get another opportunity when the Buffs visit No. 24 Arizona State Saturday night in their Pac-12 Conference opener (8:10 p.m., Pac-12 Networks). ASU’s defense has surrendered a Pac-12-low 21 points in three games, a run that includes a 10-7 win last week at Michigan State.
Pursell returned to his customary starting spot at right guard on this week’s depth chart. However, with both Roddick and Chance Lytle coming off solid outings off the bench—on top of temperatures expected north of 90 at kickoff Saturday night — Kapilovic indicated more shuffling could be in the works.
“It’s more by series. It’s more of a situation by series,” Kapilovic said. “You saw towards the end of the game Chance was out there and then we got Kary (Kutsch) back in because we felt like we needed him back in at the time.”
“Those are big, strong kids that you really want to see them play like big, strong kids. The thing is, you look at those big, strong guys and they have no experience. They haven’t played. That’s the thing, we have to keep feeding them and bringing them along and rotating them in practice and getting them some game reps so they can develop.”
Staff writer Brian Howell contributed to this report.