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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Les Miles: KU’s O-line could be better than last year’s unit

Kansas offensive lineman Malik Clark works with his fellow position players on Thursday, April 4, 2019 at the indoor practice facility.

Kansas offensive lineman Malik Clark works with his fellow position players on Thursday, April 4, 2019 at the indoor practice facility.

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For a man who lost two key starters up front from last year’s lineup, Kansas football coach Les Miles doesn’t sound especially worried about the state of the Jayhawks’ blocking.

Miles, while discussing the potential holes left by tackles Hakeem Adeniji and Clyde McCauley III, asked a rhetorical question that displayed his confidence.

“How about if you think you’ve improved so much that you may be better than the offensive line that just left?”

That would go down as a significant development for the KU offense, of course, if it were to play out that way, with the Jayhawks lacking a returning starting quarterback and likely relying heavily on star junior running back Pooka Williams.

The head coach’s optimism emanates from the potential he has witnessed from the O-line during the preseason, at KU’s closed practice sessions.

“This offensive line, you will see a pro-sized, big, capable offensive line group,” Miles predicted.

Although he didn’t identify a particular starting five up front, Miles named some players he expects to contribute. His rundown during a recent video conference with the media began with Miles bringing up the improvement of redshirt junior Earl Bostick Jr., listed at 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds. The coach shared he looks forward to seeing Bostick play.

Miles also pointed to Malik Clark, a 6-4, 315-pound senior who started at right guard for the Jayhawks in 2019.

Senior Api Mane (6-3, 327 pounds) projects as KU’s starting center, and Miles said Mane is doing a great job of teaching his understudy, true freshman Garrett Jones.

KU’s coach called senior Chris Hughes (6-4, 315 pounds) big and strong. Miles also said senior Antione Frazier (6-5, 300 pounds) will compete for the group. Then he changed the subject, revealing a younger O-lineman has caught his attention, too.

“Nick Williams is much more big than he was a year ago and we look forward to seeing him play,” Miles said of Williams, a 6-8, 290-pound sophomore.

Hughes attested that KU’s O-line has shown improvement during August practices, and he’s very confident in the group’s ability headed into this season. According to Hughes, sophomore Jacobi Lott (6-4, 320 pounds) and senior Adagio Lopeti (6-4, 310) have stepped up, too.

“Everybody’s coming together,” Hughes said, “jelling a lot better.”

A team leader in 2020, Hughes played in every game a year ago and started eight. The senior from Harker Heights, Texas, agreed with Miles’ assessment that KU’s offensive line could be better this fall. Hughes called it a “great compliment from a great coach.”

Hughes pointed to off-the-field chemistry as one factor in the unit’s development. He said offensive linemen got together while taking safe COVID-19 related measures during their offseason. They worked as much as they could on their own, and Hughes thinks that has their overall communication functioning at a high level.

“With COVID and everything it really just made us realize that you’re as strong as your weakest link and when everyone is strong your team is amazing,” Hughes said.

Miles emphasized that KU’s O-linemen must continue to improve during the buildup to the season. But he doubled down on his positive outlook for the blockers.

“In my opinion they’re doing really a good job,” Miles said, “and if you look at them you think we may be a better offensive line than we were a year ago. That is quite the compliment to this group.”

KU football offensive linemen

Seniors:

Malik Clark (6-4, 315)

Chris Hughes (6-5, 315)

Api Mane (6-3, 327)

Antione Frazier (6-5, 300)

Adagio Lopeti (6-4, 310)

Juniors:

Earl Bostick Jr. (6-6, 290)

Joey Gilbertson (6-4, 290)

Sophomores:

Jacobi Lott (6-4, 320)

Nick Williams (6-8, 290)

Jack Murphy (6-9, 275)

Jalan Robinson (6-4, 300)

Freshmen:

Garrett Jones (6-2, 300)

Nicholas Martinez (6-5, 285)

Jackson Satterwhite (6-5, 285)

Bryce Cabeldue (6-4, 315)

Jack Werner (6-2, 280)

Danny Robinson (6-5, 290)

Joe Krause (6-3, 290)

Comments

Brian Wilson 1 year, 3 months ago

To me its not surprising. Miles is an excellent OL coach and can teach it.

IMO Beatty was a terrible necessity, no one else wanted the job or situation, he did set up HCM with some young 3 star talent and best of all those guys have been together awhile and can mentor the younger guys. When Beatty took over....there were hardly any Seniors or Juniors left. Now we have some talent in coaching and players and that is saying alot. KU could be good this year but to be honest I still have no expectations until year 5. Until then, leave them alone and let them play and learn.

Dale Rogers 1 year, 3 months ago

Nearly every knowledgeable opinion I have read says that this year we should not expect an increase in the number of wins, even if we were to play a normal schedule. But, at the same time, we can expect to see significant improvement in competitiveness. They also mention that at least part of this is because Miles is rebuilding the right way, not relying on a lot of JuCo players. That requires more time to develop players but has the potential to have a big payoff. Personally, I expect year 3 to show a small gain in wins with year 5 (as Brian said) to be where we can expect bowl eligibility. Just my opinion.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 3 months ago

There were at least 100 coaches with better qualifications than David Beaty, and who would have taken the job. Beaty gutted the roster his last two years with JUCOS and transfers. Keegan literally did a full column documenting this. Please quit repeating this myth because it’s just like all other lies: repeating it may make people believe it but it doesn’t make it true. Beaty did not, in anyway, move the program forward.

Beaty and Weis can spend the rest of their lives fighting for the title of worst coaching hires in history.

Given what he followed, Miles is doing the work of a miracle worker.

Dane Pratt 1 year, 3 months ago

You're too hard on Beaty. Weis is the guy who destroyed this program.

Michael Maris 1 year, 3 months ago

Beaty hiring of Tony Hull as RB coach turned out to be a real positive for Jayhawk Football program. That hire alone opened the door for Jayhawks to recruit in Louisiana and SEC territory.

Coach Beaty's willingness to open the door to hire (the RIGHT) Assistant Coach from the HS ranks for HS recruits from Louisiana to follow northward was a BOLD move that paid off.

Coach Miles and staff are continuing that same recruiting path as well. Not that Miles LSU resume wouldn't have opened up the recruiting doors on it's own. But, Beaty & Hull started the process a few years earlier, and made the selling of traveling North to Lawrence, KS. an easier sell for Miles and his staff.

So, I give kudos to David Beaty for his hiring of Coach Tony Hull.

Brian Wilson 1 year, 3 months ago

Brett, Why don't you try to coach and win and recruit in the Big12 with 60 plus walk-ons! Becuase that is exactly what Charlie Weiss left KU with.
So recruiting Pooka didn't move the program forward huh Brett!

So leaving Miles with a Sophomore and Freshman Class full of 2 and 3 star players and almost no transfers isn't helping Miles huh Brett! And, at that point, for the first time in years, more than 50% of the players were from KS or MO. Local Players!! Unable to see the facts when slapped in the face.
Beatty was a bad coach and especially bad game day coach...but administratively he did what he was hired to do. He hired Hull, recruited Pooka, and two decent classes. Now, Miles is a very good coach, recruiting even better players, and adding to good players Beatty left us with. I will continue to give whatever little credit is due to Beatty.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 3 months ago

No coach was taking a P5HC position for $800k with 40-50 players to work with. Well, except for our DC. Plenty of speculation but nothing close to reality.

While TK was the champion pro-whiner, the article you mentioned was quickly refuted by several people that actually looked at facts. TK did have that problematic tendency toward opinions that weren’t factual.

I think it was Matt that followed TKs article with another one that looked beyond a label of JC/HS to the years of eligibility, such as at least 2 that are still on the roster with 2 years of eligibility remaining, and found that the roster was about 10 players short (20 player improvement) and balanced across the 4 years after redshirts.

There was some nonsense for a while about not developing players except for the unfortunate fact of taking a roster with no players receiving postseason awards to one that repeatedly had a half dozen.

It would be very accurate to comment on Coach Beatty not developing into a good game day coach resulting fewer wins and related problems. It makes what he did to improve the roster close to amazing.

But let’s move on.

Brian Wilson 1 year, 3 months ago

Exactly....and remember....Beatty didn't really have 40 to 50 players. The Senior and Junior classes were completely depleted. From memory I am somewhat sure KU had only 28 returning scholarship players. So the 40 to 50 players you are talking about includes a really poor class of Freshman that was made up of leftovers and just a few good players. Then, Beatty had to find 60 plus walk-ons just so he could practice, enough for the Defense, Offense and Special teams could practice separate like normal teams. If was beyond pathetic. Basically a team of mostly second and third string players practicing against a JV team to compete against the Big12. Making it harder, once those players had scholarships, it was impossible yank'em, we needed the bodies, so you continue on until they leave or graduate and recruit better players.

Jim Stauffer 1 year, 3 months ago

What could be a tremendous boost for KU would be the effect the extra year of eligibility has on the depth at OL. We are about 1 class away from having a very solid stable of linemen. If this year's seniors return next year our numbers on the OL will be greatly enhanced and the 2020 signees will have an extra year to get ready to contribute.

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