Shift of sides for Casey Roddick, Frank Fillip brings new look for CU Buffs O-line

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Aug. 30—The goal, of course, is to hit the practice field each and every day with the same high level of focus and intensity.

Yet after a full month of competing strictly against one another, there is no denying the first workout of game week brings with it a rejuvenated spirit. Casey Roddick, one of Colorado's incumbent starting offensive linemen, could practically taste it earlier this week as the Buffaloes began their final preparations for Friday's season opener against TCU at Folsom Field (8 p.m., TV: ESPN).

"The (physical) intensity may be pulled back a little bit because you don't want to be banging too hard, but the intensity in terms of mental focus and assignment, alignment and execution was up four or five levels from what it was previously," Roddick said. "I think that adds not only maturity, but it adds to your adaptability knowing when to turn it on and when to turn it off."

One year after CU's offense pretty much was turned off the entire season, Roddick and his fellow big men up front are excited about a new offense and, even more so, an opportunity to make amends for last season's woeful production. Quarterback Brendon Lewis was forced to suffer in the spotlight as CU struggled, and while the Buffs undoubtedly need improved play from the quarterback spot, often last season the offensive line didn't do many favors for Lewis.

It didn't sit well with Roddick and his crew throughout the offseason.

"That group of guys that's in the locker room right now, that group of people and the young guys, they've adopted the culture. They've adopted the mindset for how we do things around here," Roddick said. "That's been really nice to see. Purely based on that, I think that's what's going to bring us a lot of success."

Roddick has been a stalwart along the line for the Buffs the past two years, starting 16 of 18 games (and playing in all of them) while entering the 2022 season with 30 games and 18 starts to his credit. Despite that track record, Roddick is shifting roles somewhat this year, as he and tackle Frank Fillip are switching from the right side of the line to the left.

Roddick and Fillip have manned the right side of CU's line the past two seasons, but the duo's shift this season could be a positive sign for Buffs fans on two fronts. First, head coach Karl Dorrell has noted he shares an NFL-type ideology with first-year offensive line coach Kyle DeVan in desiring linemen who can play multiple spots. Fillip and Roddick might be on the left side when the season kicks off on Friday night, but they could be the ones called upon to fill any injury-spurred holes on the right side. The strive for versatility also has been on display with the preseason battle at center between Noah Fenske and Austin Johnson, with the loser possibly looking at a significant dual-backup role at guard as well.

Secondly, moving that duo from a position of strength could be a sign that Dorrell, DeVan, and first-year offensive coordinator Mike Sanford have more confidence in the depth of an offensive line set to also likely feature Jake Wiley, who started all 12 games a year ago, and Alabama transfer Tommy Brown.

"Definitely comfortable there," Roddick said. "I think that both sides, you have to show a little bit of comfort. But mainly I've been playing left guard throughout the entire camp and also a little bit during the spring. Right guard is definitely still an option. If one guy goes down, somebody is going to have to pop over there and play for him. But left guard has been my comfort level throughout camp.

"The only thing that's different is which hand is down in the dirt. Frank and I have played a lot of games together and have a lot of continuity together. Knowing how he plays, his certain playing style, is definitely going to benefit us both, regardless of what side it is."