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Chemistry a focus for CU Buffs’ O-line in bye week

Players have been in and out of lineup due to injuries

BOULDER, CO – October 13, 2020:  Offensive lineman Casey Roddick during Colorado football practice. (Courtesy photo/University of Colorado)
CU Athletics
BOULDER, CO – October 13, 2020: Offensive lineman Casey Roddick during Colorado football practice. (Courtesy photo/University of Colorado)

An illness kept Colorado right guard Casey Roddick off the football field for about six months, including all of spring practice.

An injury kept right tackle Frank Fillip out for about five months. Tackle Max Wray has missed two games, while center Colby Pursell missed one.

Among the many issues CU (1-4, 0-2 Pac-12) is trying to fix during its bye this week is the offensive line – a veteran group that hasn’t played well throughout the Buffaloes’ four-game losing streak. As far as Roddick is concerned, much of the problem lies with lack of chemistry because of injuries.

“I haven’t had my opportunity to work with Frank throughout those six months I was out,” Roddick said. “Frank hasn’t had his opportunity to work with me throughout those months.

“The inconsistency of the lineup has been our main issue. Last year we still had that inconsistency (on game day) but, I mean, we still worked together every single day (at practice), day in and day out.”

Roddick isn’t making excuses but said there’s no question chemistry is a factor for the line, which is aiming to make significant improvement this week in preparation for an Oct. 16 matchup with Arizona.

The Buffs rank 10th in the Pac-12 in rushing yards per carry (3.64) and only Washington State has allowed more sacks than CU’s 15.

“Chemistry is the number one thing and as an offensive lineman,” he said. “If you know who you’re working with, you know what techniques they use, you can be a very good offense in terms of the offensive line.”

The lineup up front has changed and had some moving parts throughout the past couple of months and Roddick said it’s “extremely difficult,” but added, “You have to make parts that don’t work together work together. So even when one guy is out, you still work with (someone else) in practice and understand how his play style is. So at the end of the day, it’s just learning different people’s play styles and how they play.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about execution. … We still have to get it done.”

To this point, the line hasn’t met expectations.

It’s a group loaded with veterans, including Pursell and left guard Kary Kutsch, who are both in their fifth seasons of college football. Fillip, Roddick, Wray and guard Kanan Ray are all fourth-year players, while tackle Jake Wiley is in his third year.

“There’s some experienced guys that are playing but maybe haven’t played as well (as expected),” head coach Karl Dorrell said. “We’ve addressed that with our coaches.  I gave the coaches really a mandate this week about talking to each and every one of their players in their segments about what are one or two attributes that we’ve got to fix this week so that we can carry on that improvement going into the next week, in terms of getting ready for Arizona.”

In addition to building chemistry, Roddick said the line is aiming to fix its mentality.

“I feel that the offensive line unit, we need to get our physicality back,” he said. “(The opponents) are giving us some hard boxes to run the ball against; seven-man, eight-man boxes are definitely tough to run the ball against.

“Still, as an offensive unit, we pride ourselves to have the mentality is even when we do get those hard looks, we have to run the ball. So it’s kind of getting back to that mentality of pound and ground, stuff like that.”

Players on both sides of the ball have said this is a good week for a bye, but there may not be a unit needing the bye more than the offensive line.

“Having this week off is definitely going to help us get our bodies right and get our minds right, most importantly, but also understand what our goal is going into this next game,” Roddick said. “It’s really nice that coach Dorrell did have the goals for us and what we need to work on in terms of techniques.”

The Buffs have also looked in the mirror and tried to figure out how an opposing defense might play against them.

“It’s kind of flipping that table on us and what we need to work on,” Roddick said. “I think that’s going to make us a better football team.”

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