O-line Depth a Concern for Bowl Game

Attrition on the offensive line has the team shuffling its lineup in preparation for the Dec. 27 Champs Bowl. Sophomore Edwin Harrison will likely start at tackle, after playing most of the year at guard. Inside, more news on the O-line situation, plus other pre-bowl information.

Dwindling depth on O-line a concern
Dave Borbely Monday said the offensive line situation is "fluid" heading into the final seven practices for the bowl game. Here's what the Buffs are facing in terms of offensive line personnel issues:
Jack Tipton who started four games at guard this fall, is out after he had knee surgery Dec. 16.
• Clint O'Neal is suspended after the racist e-mails incident.
• Sophomores Tyler Polumbus and Edwin Harrison are slated to start at the tackle positions. Polumbus started the first two games before getting banged up, and coming off the bench the rest of the season. Harrison played guard most of the season, but played tackle last year. He has six starts under his belt in 2005.
• Redshirt-freshman Daniel Sanders has not practiced in two days because of an undisclosed injury. Dave Borbely said Monday his status is "up in the air" for the bowl game.
• Senior Gary Moore becomes very valuable in that he can play any line position except for center. He will be the No. 1 backup at all spots other than center. He started 10 games at tackle, but right now looks to start at guard.
John Guydon has been practicing at guard, but has a ways to go to be effective in other than emergency situations.
Mark Fenton and Brian Daniels are healthy and good to go at center and guard, respectively. Bryce MacMartin can play center and allow Fenton to move to a guard in an emergency.
• Interim head coach Mike Hankwitz said Monday the team may be forced to pull the redshirt off one of the three freshmen offensive linemen if injuries mounted Dec. 27. However, offensive line coach Dave Borbely said later he wouldn't do that at this point in the season.

• One emergency scenario, Borbely said, would be to use tight end Quinn Sypniewski at tackle and move one of the tackles inside. Sypniewski may see some reps at tackle in bowl practices this coming week.

Klatt's availability still uncertain
Joel Klatt has not practiced with the team in their practices for the bowl game. He has recently begun riding a stationary bike, but is not yet allowed to run.

Klatt's been at the practices, helped out with advice for the scout team and given some words of advice to fellow quarterbacks James Cox, Brian White and Bernard Jackson. But he has not been medically cleared to play by team doctors after getting knocked out of the Dec. 3 Big 12 title game with a concussion.

Klatt said Monday he wants to play, but now that he's married, he has family considerations that weigh into the decision if it was deemed a close call.

James Cox will likely start, with White and Jackson running co-No. 2.

The blow that put Klatt out of the Texas game drew a penalty. The two head coaches of those teams at the time — Mack Brown and Gary Barnett — are close friends. When asked Monday if anyone in the Texas program had contacted him, presumably with an apology for the questionable play that looks like it has ended Klatt's season, Klatt said "I'd prefer not to go there."

This is not the first concussion the quarterback has sustained. He declined to say how many he's had in his playing career, but said this was the worst. He said he still wants to pursue an NFL career if the opportunity arises.

Mood lifted
The overall mood of the team has lifted in recent days from the low it experienced two weeks ago when reports were flying about the future of Gary Barnett, and in the days following his Dec. 8 firing. Hankwitz and several players attributed the elevated spirits to being able to get back to the business of playing football.

Two-week interview
Dan Hawkins is in the middle of putting together his coaching staff. Hawkins spoke with members of the CU coaching staff Saturday before he headed back to Boise Sunday. On Monday, Hankwitz said Hawkins told them he's got their phone numbers. But Hankwitz noted that Hawkins is also busy preparing his Boise team for their Dec. 28 bowl game.

Hankwitz termed Hawkins' reaching out to the current CU staff as "gracious." But it remains unclear whether or not any of the CU staff will be on board past the bowl game.

Hankwitz continued to answer questions about the difficulty of coaching the bowl game with their futures up in the air in the same way he has the past week. On Monday, he reiterated that the coaches are professionals, and determined to do right by the Colorado players, working hard to put them in a position to win the bowl game.

And each of the staff members are looking for work, whether they get that opportunity in Boulder or elsewhere. With that in mind, coaches assume some eyes will be on how the coaches handle the bowl practices and game, and that will show up in how the players respond.

"How our players play and conduct themselves during this time will be as good an interview as you can do," Hankwitz said.

On Recruiting
CU recruiting coordinator under Barnett John Wristen met with Hawkins and gave him CU's database of recruits and briefed him on where CU was with all of them.

On Monday, Hankwitz was asked about the status of recruiting in wake of the coaching change. (Note, coaches are in the midst of a dead period).

Hankwitz said: "We had 10 commitments and felt like we had an excellent base and interest from several key positions. We had been actively calling them and telling them not to make a decision just yet.

"Some of those kids will get pressured from other schools because there will be schools that will say, ‘Look, we've only got one spot left, if you don't take it, it might not be there.' That's just a numbers game. When you only have 15 to 25 scholarships to give, it gets down to number.

"I know a lot of kids will wait to reserve judgment. Now they know who (the new head coach is). You would think receivers we have been talking to would be excited given the way Dan Hawkins likes to throw the ball. A lot of them will wait to see which (assistant coaches) will be retained because they may have been recruited by them.

"I know Coach Hawkins can certainly sell his success and his record. There will be positive things that will come out of it. We are hoping that all the hard work we did recruiting will help carry over the interest of the kids and I know (Hawkins) will be contacting them."

Divvying up duties
Hankwitz said he will not impose his view on the offensive game plan, nor on most of the offensive play calling during the bowl game. However, he said, he will step in and have final say if the team faces a critical play, while soliciting advice from offensive coordinator Shawn Watson.

CU Bowl Schedule
Dec. 20: Day Off
Dec. 21: Travel to Orlando
Dec. 22: Practice (Florida Citrus Bowl Complex)
Dec. 23: Practice, Universal Studios
Dec. 24: Practice, Disney Theme Park
Dec. 25: Practice, Holiday Dinner
Dec. 26: Walk-through practice
Dec. 27: Game, 3 p.m. (MT), ESPN
Dec. 28: Return to Boulder
The team will have 1 a.m. curfews except for Dec. 21 (midnight), Dec. 25 and 26 (11


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