A boot. A boot on the foot of Brad Thorson raised a few questions as to the senior offensive lineman's status going into the season. The reality? Much ado about nothing. Brad Thorson isn't the concern. As Thorson put it, "I figured all of the Texas people wear boots so I just wanted to fit in."
When the season starts Thorson will be playing, the concern is elsewhere. As has been rumored and Thorson somewhat hinted further at, Jeremiah Hatch is still working himself back into playing condition.
The common feeling is that he should be ready to go, and Thorson did support that by saying that he sees Hatch working out and thinks he'll be ready. Still no one will go quite as far as assuring the status of the would be starting center. Something Thorson and the program have done with regards to his own status.
How big of a concern is the offensive line if Hatch isn't ready to go? First and foremost Thorson would be the most likely candidate to move inside to the center position should that be needed. Where things get tricky is replacing his experience at right tackle.
At full strength the starters most likely would have consisted of Tanner Hawkinson, Trevor Marrongelli, Hatch, Sal Capra and Thorson. Jeff Spikes would have battled for time, possibly at guard or right tackle with at worst a role as the first man off the bench. Knock one man out of the equation and Spikes can plug in as needed.
Now we already know that Spikes is officially out of the equation, so what happens if Kansas loses one more? If the injury is specifically to the center position Kansas is likely dropping Thorson back to the interior and call upon a redshirt Freshman in Riley Spencer or Gavin Howard based on spring ball. This isn't a doomsday scenario, but the fact is neither option is nearly as polished or prepared as what Kansas looked to have a few months ago.
Another possibility if the injury occurs on the interior would be redshirt sophomore Duane Zlatnik. In that instance a loss at guard wouldn't be as damaging as Zlatnik is physically prepared and entering his third year with the program. Still it is only his second year at the position and Zlatnik has no track record so regardless of how good he looks on paper, there are questions.
Ideally Hatch patches things up, gets to where he needs to be and doesn't miss a beat. Then Kansas goes through the season without injury or incident on the offensive line. Worst case though, this is an area and a unit that could be a concern. The top level talent looks solid and the experience returning certainly leads to a positive first impression. Below the surface however, the depth isn't great. This could become an issue and it's an issue that seems to be a bit below the radar just a few days before the start of camp.
- Owen K(email@example.com)