Wilson Likes Unit's Maturity

Defensive line coach <b>Chris Wilson</b> is upbeat about the potential of his defensive linemen heading into August drills. The unit will be a key in CU's revamped defense in 2004, and Wilson plans to field the best six or seven players this fall. He will spend the next few weeks figuring out who that is among the returning candidates, as the unit recently gained a new face and may be losing another.

"I wish we could have started last week," Wilson said Friday when asked if the team was looking forward to Sunday's open of August camp.

The Buffs return five players on the defensive front with starting experience, including Brandon Dabdoub (17 starts), Matt McChesney (12), James Garee (8), Vaka Manupuna (2) and Alex Ligon (1).

"I like our maturity," he said. "I like what we've been able to accomplish over the summer. They've had a fantastic offseason and a really good spring."

The new face on the defensive line is a familiar one, as junior John Guydon returns to the defensive side of the ball after spending the spring practicing with the offensive line. Guydon, the 6-2, 290-pound former juco transfer, earned scout team awards last fall for his play on the defensive side of the ball. He'll provide some depth on the defensive interior, where veterans Manupuna, McChesney and Dabdoub are considered starters going into camp.

Coaches are hoping the move spurs two other defensive linemen, as it should create more competition for playing time in the trenches.

"John has been placed back on our side of the ball for depth," Wilson said. "It also gives us competition because we've got some guys like (sophomore) Marcus Jones — who's a good player, but who the jury is still out on. And we've got to get more out of (senior) McKenzie Tilmon."

The move also provides some insurance in case redshirt-freshman Chadd Evans does not return to the team this weekend. Evans has been considering a transfer all summer, and reportedly will make up his mind today or tomorrow whether or not to continue with the Buffs.

"We obviously want to have him," Wilson said. "We've extended our hand to get him back, but we won't know until he shows up or doesn't show up on Sunday."

Evans, who had a good spring, was penciled in at No. 2 rush end behind starter Garee. If Evans doesn't return, Wilson said he thinks the team has enough flexibility to make things work without him. McChesney has played both inside and at defensive end in years past.

Wilson also said that Dabdoub, a senior, who missed spring ball with a torn pec muscle, will be physically ready to play next week.

Vying for the starting duty at the defensive end spot opposite Garee will be sophomores Ligon and Abraham Wright, and redshirt-freshman Alonzo Barrett. Incoming freshman Josh Hunt will get a look along the line in camp, as well, most likely on the interior.

Whoever is in pads and ready to work when the team holds its first full-squad practice Monday, Wilson plans on finding the best players along the defensive line.

"That's how we're going to look at it — the best six or seven defensive linemen are who we're going to take on the road with us," he said.

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