CU football notes: Offensive line gearing up for matchup with TCU

Aug. 25—After a full offseason of going against teammates, the Colorado offensive line is preparing to face someone different.

As CU gears up for the Sept. 2 opener against TCU (8 p.m., TV: ESPN), offensive line coach Kyle DeVan is pleased with the work his group has put in up to this point.

"We're making that transition to TCU," DeVan said Thursday. "I think this has been the first full day we've devoted the majority of our time (to TCU), which has been awesome. I really liked the attention to details and getting the reps in.

"I really like where the guys are, man. It's been fun, to be honest. It's been fun to work with a bunch of hungry young men that have the ability and have the capability and now we're putting it all together."

Tackle Frank Fillip and guard Casey Roddick are leading the group. They started next to each other on the right side of the line last year. Both have been playing on the left side quite a bit this month. DeVan wouldn't reveal where they'll start against TCU, but they're sure to be next to each other.

"I like those two together," DeVan said. "They're roommates, they're friends. They've been doing this a long time. I think when you get in the O-line, there's a comfort level to (playing next to someone)."

DeVan also wouldn't reveal whether Tommy Brown is going to being ready. The Alabama transfer is expected to start at guard at some point but just began practicing this week.

"I really like where Tommy is," DeVan said. "When you play at Alabama for four years, his foundation is really strong from a football IQ standpoint, so that part he's been locked in with us. Now, it's just getting the physical stuff back."

Jake Wiley started at left tackle last year and had some growing pains, but has had a good camp.

"He was just so young and so new (last year)," DeVan said. "We've kind of sat down and talked about everybody has deficiencies. We talk about minimizing your deficiencies and maximizing what you're really good at. Jake's a very athletic guy and so Jake starts efficiently. He gives himself a great chance to be successful."

At center, Noah Fenske and Austin Johnson continue to battle for the starting job, but Johnson has played a lot of guard with Brown out.

For months, the entire group has faced the different looks thrown at them by CU defensive coordinator Chris Wilson. Now, DeVan is in the fine-tuning stage as they prepare for TCU.

"Now it's about doing everything on the same day and then (against) a different defense," he said. "It's been fun with the transition. I think the guys have learned from it, especially because they have experience. I think playing against coach Wilson has been awesome for our guys because we see us so much on a daily basis."

Emotional leader

Several players have said they are enjoying learning from first-year defensive line coach Gerald Chatman. The youngest member of the full-time coaching staff at 34, Chatman has shown some fire in practice and on the sidelines.

"I usually try to get in where I fit in, in terms of that," he said. "It's not something that's pre-planned, it's just how it goes. It's keeping that group together on the sideline. Coaching them on the sideline is very important and making sure that we keep our rhythm as a defense is very important."

Chatman is one of several assistants slated to be on the sidelines during games, including Wilson, DeVan, Phil McGeoghan (receivers), Darian Hagan (running backs), Brett Maxie (safeties) and Mark Smith (inside linebackers).

Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford is planning to be in the coaches' booth, along with Clay Patterson (tight ends) and Rod Chance (cornerbacks).


Head coach Karl Dorrell said receiver RJ Sneed is "trending that way" in being ready for the opener against TCU. The Baylor transfer spent the summer recovering from a foot injury but returned to practice this week. ... Outside of the lead group on the offensive line, DeVan said several players have made an impression with the second unit. That group includes tackles Gerald Christian-Lichtenhan and Travis Gray, guards Luke Eckardt and Alex Harkey and true freshman center Van Wells. DeVan said Wells is "one of the smartest freshmen I've ever been around."