During the Boulder Chamber Kickoff Luncheon on Friday, Colorado head football coach Karl Dorrell joked that the Buffaloes were planning to rotate their defensive linemen like lines in hockey.
Clearly the Buffs won’t be shuffling linemen in during plays, but Dorrell is confident in their depth up front and first-year defensive line coach Gerald Chatman is eager to utilize the talent.
“We’re going to keep guys fresh and it’s one solid unit playing together,” Chatman said Monday. “Whoever’s on the field, the expectation is the same, no matter if it’s a guy that’s supposed to be a (backup) or whatever it is. Whoever is on the field representing the defensive line, we’re gonna play as a united group. They’re gonna play with the relentless traits that we require in that room and they’re gonna play with the discipline that it takes for us to be successful as a defense.”
A year ago, the Buffs had a 3-4 base defense and had a line rotation of, basically, six players. Defensive end Terrance Lang (589 snaps), and tackles Jalen Sami (432), Na’im Rodman (429) and Mustafa Johnson (369) got most of the playing time. Tackles Janaz Jordan (234) and Justin Jackson (135) were in the rotation, too.
CU has shifted to a 4-3 base this year — the Buffs will use multiple fronts, however — and features more depth, even with the loss of Johnson to graduation.
At tackle, Sami, Rodman, Jordan and Jackson are all back, while freshmen Tyas Martin and Aaron Austin could work their way into the mix. At end, Lang is joined by transfer Chance Main and freshman Ryan Williams.
While the veterans lead the group, Chatman said he doesn’t view the Buffs having a starting group and a backup group.
“Whoever is in there representing this unit is going to play with the same expectations, the same standard,” he said.
The group didn’t have its best day in the Buffs’ scrimmage on Saturday, which included several offsides penalties. Chatman said that was a good learning experience, however.
“Yeah, we had some errors,” he said. “We have to make sure that we come out more locked in and focused and that we’re disciplined in terms of pre-snap. We’ve got to make sure we do a better job with that.
“It’s just, the guys have to do it. They have to do it the right way and that’s how it’s gonna get fixed.”
Back in action
On Monday, transfers Tommy Brown and RJ Sneed returned to the practice field for the first time since April.
Brown, a junior offensive lineman from Alabama, missed the end of spring practices with a minor knee injury. Sneed, a senior receiver from Baylor, injured his foot in the spring showcase. Both spent the summer and the first three weeks of preseason camp recovering from their injuries.
Brown and Sneed did some individual work on Monday and will be eased back into team action. Dorrell said Saturday he’s hopeful both can be ready to face TCU in the season opener on Sept. 2.
Receivers Ty Robinson and Grant Page have recently returned to practice after dealing with injuries in the past year. Robinson, a true sophomore who caught six passes last year, missed spring drills with an injury.
Page, a true freshman, played only five games of his senior year at Fairview High School in 2021 because of a knee injury.
“It was great to see (Robinson) make a couple plays (in Saturday’s scrimmage), coming off his injury last spring,” Dorrell said. “We’re just getting those guys out there playing again and coming off of these injuries that they’ve had, trying to work their way back.
“Grant is gonna be a really good player, too, in time when he’s really recovered.”
Chatman said Austin, a 6-foot-2, 250-pound true freshman from Fort Worth, Texas, has a high motor. “He plays with passion, he plays violent, he’s tough and he plays with tremendous effort,” Chatman said. “He’s gonna give himself a chance to have success from his effort alone.” … Monday was the first day of fall classes for the Buffs.