Success in spring camp starts up front with experienced offensive line

Chad Deutschman

In a spring full of turnover for the Colorado State football team, one thing that remains familiar is the offensive line.

Offensive lineman Jake Bennett with CSU coach Mike Bobo during a spring practice. (Luke Walker/ The Collegian)
Offensive lineman Jake Bennett with CSU coach Mike Bobo during a spring practice. (Luke Walker/ The Collegian)

While many other position groups have unfamiliar faces stepping into the larger roles, the offensive line returns four of its starters from a year ago. In 2015, the line ranked 10th nationally by allowing 4.6 tackles for loss and 22nd nationally with 17 sacks allowed.

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Returning starters on the line include: Redshirt senior Nick Callender, redshirt junior Zach Golditch, redshirt junior Jake Bennett and redshirt senior Fred Zerblis. The newcomer? True sophomore Colby Meeks, and he seems to be adjusting to his new role just fine.

“Meeks is a good player, he works really hard,” Zerblis said. “I think the biggest thing for him was he got a little bit of experience last year and knows how fast the game is and knows the playbook. He’s a smart kid. I think the biggest thing is just trying to build that chemistry like everyone else has, bring him along with us and keep working hard.”

Meeks is not the only one the group is getting used to.

With last year’s starter Nick Stevens and transfer Faton Bauta competing for the starting quarterback gig in 2016, the O-line is looking to further their comfort level with Stevens behind center and build a familiarity with Bauta.

“We played thirteen games together last year and fall camp coming through the spring, that rapport is pretty strong (with Stevens),” Bennett said. “And it’s getting there with Faton as well just cause of his knowledge of the offense.”

The offensive line may have retained a lot of experience from a group that saw some success last year, but according to head coach Mike Bobo, nothing is guaranteed.

“Just because we’ve got four returning starters does not mean that we’re automatically going to walk on the field and be a dominant offensive line,” Bobo said. “You’ve got to work every single day. Nothing is going to be given to us.”

The offensive has all the tools to be a force in the 2016 season. A complacent mindset could get in the way of that.

“You’re 18 to 22 years old, sometimes you think ‘oh, I’ve been here, I’ve done this spring practice, I kinda got it figured out’,” Bobo said. “You don’t ever have it figured out. I don’t have it figured out every day I get up.”

The first real test to see if 2016’s offensive line has it figured out will be April 23 during the Green and Gold spring game at Hughes Stadium.

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“If we want to be good, we’ve got to be good up front,” Bobo said.

Collegian Sports Reporter Chad Deutschman can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ChadDeutschman.