Kansas has had just two offensive linemen drafted into the NFL in the last 8 seasons, and the results on the field back up the notion that KU has simply struggled to find decent offensive line play over that time.
Everything starts with a decent O-line. Ideally, they open up holes for the run game and give the quarterback time to throw the ball.
Except at Kansas, where they just do this:
Ugh. Although the clip above is from the 2017 season, things haven’t improved much. Last year, the KU O-line allowed 47 sacks at a rate of 5.2 sacks per game, easily the worst nationally, and obviously the worst in the Big 12.
Anyway, let’s take a shot at guessing the two-deep for KU along the line this year, and what we might be able to expect out of them.
Remember, I’m just guessing here, but based on publicly available information and including transfers, here is my best guess for what we’ll see in Week 1.
LT - RS-SR Earl Bostick / RS-FR Jackson Satterwhite
LG - S-SR Malik Clark / S-SR Adagio Lopeti
C - RS-JR Mike Novitsky / RS-JR Colin Grunhard
RG - S-SR Chris Hughes / SO Armaj Adams-Reed
RT - RS-FR Michael Ford Jr / RS-FR Bryce Cabeldue
Michael Ford was projected to be a starter at Buffalo this fall at RT; I think he will get the nod over Bryce Cabeldue simply due to familiarity with the coaching staff and offensive scheme. Obviously, if Cabeldue has a big fall camp, he could claim the starting spot instead.
LT is the biggest question mark for me, but Bostick started there in the spring game, so I figure he has the edge. Satterwhite and RS-JR Nick Williams also saw time at offensive tackle in the spring game.
Scott Fuchs is the newest offensive line coach for Kansas as he begins his first year in Lawrence. He came over with Leipold from Buffalo where he spent the previous two seasons. Fuchs has also coached O-lines at Wyoming (2014-18) and North Dakota State (2009-13), as well as Southern Illinois, Grand Valley State, Nebraska-Omaha, and a couple of D3 schools.
Cause for Optimism
The transfers (Novitsky, Ford, Grunhard) bring an immediate talent infusion to a unit that has had a rough
year decade. In a season where everyone is eligible to return (due to the Covid waiver), Kansas could still feature two new starters along the line. And, I haven’t even really mentioned a completely new offensive coaching staff, including a new OC as well as a new position coach. Considering KU’s production last year, I think that’s something to be optimistic about, as by just about every metric Kansas was a bottom-5 offensive line, while Buffalo was a top-10.
Cause for Concern
I mean, honestly, it can’t get worse than last year, can it? (How many times have we said that about Kansas football though?) So, what is there to really be concerned about? That the line just doesn’t show any improvement? How many more questions can I ask in this space?
The Jayhawks obviously have a tough schedule and will go up against some talented defensive lines. But if KU can’t dominate it’s Week 1 opponent (South Dakota) in the trenches, then go ahead and get concerned for the rest of the year.