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Sources – Colorado starting C Van Wells doubtful Saturday


Colorado starting center Van Wells is doubtful to play against Colorado State on Saturday night, sources told ESPN, leaving the Buffaloes with a true freshman starting at center.

Wells was limited in practice this week, sources said, after leaving the Nebraska game with an apparent leg injury in the fourth quarter. His absence would add another layer of uncertainty to one of the Buffaloes’ most glaring weaknesses.

True freshman Hank Zilinskas is slated for his first career start, sources said. Zilinskas is a former three-star prospect from nearby Cherry Creek High School in Englewood, Colorado, whom ESPN rated as the No. 21 overall center in the 2023 freshman class. He is listed at 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds.

Colorado coach Deion Sanders said this week that Wells was healing and that he had confidence in the depth at that position. Sanders added that Colorado “didn’t miss a beat” with Zilinskas in the game late against Nebraska.

The loss of Wells would put additional pressure on a struggling unit. Colorado is last in the country in sacks allowed, with an average of 6.0 per game. That included giving up eight sacks against Nebraska last week.

Colorado has the country’s No. 2 passing offense, averaging 453 yards over two games. Colorado plays almost exclusively out of the shotgun, which amplifies the importance of Zilinskas’ snaps in his starting debut.

Colorado’s rush offense ranks No. 124 out of 132 schools with 56.5 yards per game. (Colorado State, which has played just one game, is tied for last at 37.0 yards.)

Wells is one of the eight returning scholarship players on the Buffaloes roster this season and is one of the four starters among that group. He played in nine games as a true freshman, which included 377 offensive snaps.

Opposing coaches have pointed to both lines of scrimmage as the weaknesses for Colorado, which has jumped out to a 2-0 record thanks to the resplendent play of quarterback Shedeur Sanders, the dynamism of the receiver and tailback positions and a defense that’s opportunistic enough to be No. 8 in the country in turnover margin.

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