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82 Days Until Kansas Football: Previewing the Offensive Line

Will the offensive line be a cause for concern or a cause for optimism?

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

KU’s offensive line has been a trainwreck since Mark Mangino was run out of town, contributing to KU’s at times completely inept offensive performances over the past eight years. Is there any reason to believe that 2018 will be any different?

Cause for Concern

KU’s best offensive lineman for 2018 was supposed to be Mesa Ribordy, who would have been a junior but unfortunately had to leave the football program due to an undisclosed medical condition. In the two games Ribordy missed in 2017, KU had a total of 127 yards of offense. Ribordy would have been an anchor for this year’s line, and will be sorely missed.

Adding to that, injuries appear to have his this group hard. With 16 offensive linemen on the current roster, the Jayhawks only had 8 available in the spring, and had to alter the spring game format to compensate.

Cause for Optimism

I suppose the primary cause for optimism that almost every other offensive lineman returns from last year’s squad. Hakeem Adeniji has the tools to be an All-Big 12 player, and a core of now-juniors gave this group depth in 2017. Jacob Bragg and Larry Hughes will be the only seniors in 2018, and some promising recruits like freshmen Jacobi Lott and Nick Williams give even more hope for 2019 and beyond.

Projected 2-deep

LT - JR Hakeem Adeniji / JR Clyde McCauley

LG - JR Andru Tovi / SO Cam Durley

C - SR Jacob Bragg / JR Hunter Saulsbury

RG - SO Chris Hughes / SR Larry Hughes

RT - JR Antione Frazier / SO Earl Bostick

Coaching

The position coach for this group is AJ Ricker, who is in his first year at Kansas. Ricker came to KU from Oklahoma State, where he was an offensive analyst and worked with the offensive line. Prior to that, he was in a similar role at Houston. He played college football at Missouri, where he was just 2-2 against Kansas and couldn’t protect Brad Smith from the swarming KU defense in a stunning upset in 2003.

Conclusion

I don’t know. These guys are finally upperclassmen, but they’ve been so bad the last couple of years it makes me seriously wonder if that will even matter. Unfortunately, we’ve got to put our faith in a Missouri Tiger to see if he can get any better production out of this group. (That thought makes me a little sick to my stomach.)

Based solely on experience, the line should be improved over 2017. Will that be enough to keep Peyton Bender off the ground or Carter Stanley from running for his life every play? I actually have a cautious optimism for this group, but as with KU football in general these days, I’ll believe it when I see it.