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CU football notes: Buffs’ line working to help struggling offense

With tackle Frank Fillip (76) blocking, Colorado running back Alex Fontenot runs the ball against the Arizona State Sun Devils on Sept. 25 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
With tackle Frank Fillip (76) blocking, Colorado running back Alex Fontenot runs the ball against the Arizona State Sun Devils on Sept. 25 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.

Following a 30-0 loss to Minnesota on Sept. 18, Colorado’s offensive linemen got together for a meeting.

“We said, ‘This is never gonna happen again. It’s not our standard. It’s not what we’re gonna do,’” right tackle Frank Fillip said.

One of the leaders of a veteran offensive line, Fillip said that the group is trying to take more ownership of the struggles on offense as the Buffaloes (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) look to snap a three-game losing streak. CU hosts Southern California (2-2, 1-2) on Saturday at Folsom Field (Noon, TV: Pac-12 Network).

“We decided to put it on our back like, ‘Look if nothing else we’ll just run the ball every play and we’ll take all responsibility for that,’” Fillip said. “That’s kind of our mindset is that we want to take as much responsibility as we can as the offensive line since we’re in charge of blocking and protecting everybody. It’s just kind of how we feel.”

CU’s offense had a dismal performance against Minnesota, producing only 63 total yards and finishing with minus-19 rushing yards. Last week in a 35-13 loss at Arizona State, the Buffs didn’t have great numbers but finished with 250 total yards and 183 on the ground.

“As a unit, yes, I did feel better about it,” Fillip said. “We all came into the Arizona State week and we worked really, really hard, pushed each other. Obviously, it didn’t turn out like we wanted it to, but it was still an improvement and that’s what we’re trying to do is improve every single week.”

Between Fillip, center Colby Pursell, left guard Kary Kutsch and right guards Kanan Ray and Casey Roddick, who have rotated, there are 117 games – and 65 starts – of experience with the Buffs.

Left tackles Jake Wiley and Max Wray have just six starts between them, but they’re both veteran players. Wiley is in his third year with the program and Wray is in his fourth season of college football (first at CU after transferring from Ohio State).

It’s a group that Fillip said is close off the field and will continue striving for improvement on the field.

“I think it’s just gonna take a lot of hard work,” he said. “It’s not a fun answer, but I think the real truth is that we’re just going to have to work really, really hard every single day and just continuously chip away at getting better and better and better.”

Glad to be back

On a personal level, Fillip is happy to be on the field again with the Buffs. The starter at right tackle in 2020, he injured his shoulder in the spring and was out all summer.

Fillip then missed the first two games of this season and finally returned, as a reserve, in the Minnesota game. He made his first start of the year against ASU.

“I’m definitely not all the way (up to speed), but definitely I’ve done better every single day,” he said. “It feels really, really good to be back. It’s tough sitting on the side and watching your team get better over the summer but I’m just happy I’m back now.”

Fillip said on the field has also been good for him mentally.

“I’ve definitely been in a better mood,” he said. “In general throughout my life I’m just happier, more fulfilled. I just feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Improving

Offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said backup quarterback Drew Carter, a true freshman, is getting better.

“I see it in practice,” Chiaverini said. “I’ve seen a lot of growth from Drew from week to week. … But at the end of the day, you need game reps, not just practice reps.”

Despite losing by 22 last week, CU didn’t take the opportunity to give Carter game reps against ASU, however.

“We’ve had conversations with coach Dorrell and (quarterbacks coach Danny) Langsdorf and at the end of the day, that’s coach Dorrell’s decision,” Chiaverini said.

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