It was supposed to be his senior season, when Kary Kutsch would help anchor Colorado’s offensive line through the usual 12-game slate while vying for a bowl bid.
Yet Kutsch was just like every college football player in the nation who saw the reality of the 2020 season turn into something far different than anyone ever envisioned. For Kutsch, that meant his own battle with COVID-19 in a pandemic season that trimmed the Buffaloes’ schedule to just six games. When healthy, Kutsch was a man without a permanent home, as he spent his active-duty weeks shuttling between left guard and center.
“I got COVID last year so I missed a few games,” Kutsch said. “I played a few games out of position at center. I had another year, so I was going to use it for sure.”
After playing mostly on special teams during his first season at CU in 2018, the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Kutsch started all 12 games at left guard in 2019. That’s where Kutsch started against UCLA in the first game of the delayed 2020 season, but an injury to Colby Pursell forced Kutsch to step in at center the next two games. After missing the following two games while dealing with COVID, Kutsch returned to the lineup for the Buffs’ Alamo Bowl loss against Texas at his more familiar left guard spot.
“I think focusing on (left guard) will help a lot,” Kutsch said. “I really only got to play one game fully prepared at left guard. I feel like another year is great for improvement. I’m still trying to practice center too in case anything ever happens, but I am focusing more on left guard.
“I think I’ve made a jump every year, and I think every coach I’ve had has done something new for me every year, taught me something new. The longer I spend here, the more my confidence builds, and that also helps. Every year I just get more confident in my play.”
During a session with reporters on Wednesday, CU offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue noted that it has been difficult to establish continuity along the offensive line this spring. Having a player like Kutsch, a veteran who has logged starts at multiple positions, no doubt is an asset to any offensive line. However, Rodrigue also said that in Kutsch’s case, the chance to focus throughout the spring on his familiar, more natural left guard spot will likely give Kutsch a boost going into his extra season.
“It is a good feeling to know that if we have a problem at center, he can come in and fill those shoes,” Rodrigue said. “Kary is a quiet warrior. He doesn’t vocalize leadership, but he does exhibit it through his play. Every day he comes to work. He has his lunch pail and goes to work and does his job and does it quietly. He’s had a fantastic spring.
“For him to be allowed to stay at one position and get good at it, that has meant the world to him. He didn’t have that opportunity during the season. He had to play at different positions. It’s really benefitted him to stay at that left guard position.”