For the Kansas football team to take the next step on offense, it will likely start with an improvement on the offensive line. In last week’s loss to Central Michigan, there were too many pass protection breakdowns and busted plays to consistently move the ball down the field.
After watching film, KU sophomore left tackle Hakeem Adeniji said there were “spurts” of good plays by the offensive line, but it wasn’t as consistent as the Jayhawks wanted.
“I think for sure it’s all correctable,” Adeniji said. “I think we have a good group of guys. I think we have a great coach. I think it’s all about just putting that together.”
KU sophomore right tackle Antione Frazier had a particularly rough outing, committing a false start when the Jayhawks had second-and-goal from the 1-yard line and other problems in pass protection.
Adeniji said the false start near the goal line are the type of plays that “you can’t make,” but he trusts Frazier will only grow from the experience. Adeniji added that he wants to take Frazier under his wing.
“You pat him on the back and you tell him to keep going,” Adeniji said. “That’s Antione’s second start and we know he’s going to make mistakes. I trust him and I’m going to keep working with him. More than just a teammate, that’s family to me. We know how talented he is and what he can do, so we’re just going to keep on pushing until he gets to that point.”
Frazier and freshman right guard Chris Hughes, who redshirted last season, are brand new to the offensive line and had trouble keeping the pocket clean for quarterback Peyton Bender.
Adeniji said one of the big keys for the offensive line is doing a better job of blocking on first and second downs. Against Central Michigan, the Jayhawks were 5 of 18 on third downs (28 percent). That included a 1-of-8 mark when KU had 3rd-and-9 or longer.
“Obviously we have a lot of young guys, especially on the right side of the O-line,” Adeniji said. “It’s probably going to take them a little time to get to the flow of things, but I trust they can do it, for sure.”
In the run game, Adeniji thought the offensive line made some strides from Week 1 to Week 2. The Jayhawks averaged 4.3 yards per rush on 34 carries, including four runs longer than 10 yards.
But the Jayhawks (1-1) did have some problems turning their long drives into touchdowns. Three possessions inside of the red zone ended in field goal attempts.
“The biggest part of it is staying mentally composed throughout the whole game,” Adeniji said. “I feel like we had spurts here and there where we did a good job, but we didn’t do a great job of keeping it consistent the whole game. I think being a leader of the O-line, I have to do a better a job of keeping our guys on the right track.”
Heading into Saturday’s matchup against Ohio, Adeniji said he’s seen KU players focus more in practice and film sessions, and he’s hopeful that will show up on the field.
“Me personally, I never like to be embarrassed, you know,” Adeniji said. “I always want to go out there and do my thing. You have someone you don’t feel is capable and shouldn’t beat you like that, and they come into your home and do what they did, it just tunes you in. It makes you hungry for the next (game).”