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KU offensive line off to a solid start

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Kansas running back Ke'aun Kinner (22) sprints around South Dakota State defensive back Jimmie Forsythe (25) on a long run in the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Ke'aun Kinner (22) sprints around South Dakota State defensive back Jimmie Forsythe (25) on a long run in the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Any time an offensive line can get the view that Bryan Peters (76), De'Andre Banks (62) and Keyon Haughton (70) have in the picture above, things are are going well.

That was absolutely the case for the Kansas offensive line in last week's season opener, which went down as a 41-38 loss for the team but should be considered a win for the offensive line, which included the three guys mentioned above along with tackles Jordan Shelley-Smith and Larry Mazyck in the starting lineup.

It's been a number of games, and years, really, since we've watched a Kansas football game and not noticed the offensive line in some way, shape or form. That's a good thing, by the way. Because, the way things typically go, the more that O-Lines are noticed, the bigger the concern.

Don't get me wrong, there were a few offensive linemen called for holding and there was even one false start, but those things happen. Nobody likes it when they do, but they do.

Three of the seven penalties enforced against KU in last Saturday's opener were called on the offensive line, with Banks and Haughton each whistled for a hold and Mazyck flagged for a false start. Again, these things do happen. And the best part about the previous sentence was that it did not show any repeat offenders.

Outside of the penalties, which I'm guessing was a fairly acceptable number in O-Line coach Zach Yenser's meeting room this week, the line was terrific.

It took care of junior quarterback Montell Cozart and kept him upright and able to move around and find receivers when required.

It blew open holes for Ke'aun Kinner and allowed him to rumble for 157 yards and 2 TDs in his Kansas debut.

And, as we had been told it would, the O-Line did a great job keeping up with KU's tempo and allowing the Kansas offense to play as fast as possible. KU ripped off 90 plays in last week's loss — good for seventh most in the country during Week 1 — and not one time do I remember seeing Cozart or the offense having to wait for the linemen to get set before getting a play off.

Generally speaking, offensive lines are like umpires and referees. When they do their job, nobody really talks about them and everything is right in the world. When they don't, all hell breaks loose and people have been known to pick on them for days.

The fact that no one in the local media asked KU coach David Beaty a single question about KU's offensive line following Saturday's loss or during this week's press conference shows you all you need to know about that group that spent much of the spring and almost all of preseason camp working together to develop the necessary chemistry to succeed up front.

In fact, the only thing we really heard about this group this week was an unsolicited tip of the cap by Beaty, who mentioned the big boys up front when asked on Saturday who stood out during KU's opener.

One of the groups that I'm really proud of is our O-line," Beaty said. "I'll be honest with you, in spring that group struggled pretty badly. So the fact that they're getting better, that gives me some hope moving forward that we've got a chance to get a little bit better even than that. So Zach Yenser and those guys have done a really good job with them."

As Beaty and company have said all along, "you're only as good as your next," so even with its solid Week 1 performance the Kansas O-Line must back that performance again in Week 2 if it hopes to continue receiving love from the KU coaches and fans.

If not... Well, you all know how umpires and referees are treated.

Kansas offensive lineman Jordan Shelley-Smith (79) makes his way off the field as the Jackrabbits celebrate their 41-38 win over the Jayhawks on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas offensive lineman Jordan Shelley-Smith (79) makes his way off the field as the Jackrabbits celebrate their 41-38 win over the Jayhawks on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Comments

Dirk Medema 7 years, 2 months ago

Matt - Good article. It does generate 2 questions (for a different article?)

  1. What does Zach find to be acceptable from a penalty perspective?

    1a. What's unacceptable?

  2. What was the distribution of the other penalties? The general sense I've gotten is that it wasn't acceptable for the team as a whole

Matt Tait 7 years, 2 months ago

Agreed. I think the total number (7) was deemed too high, but not necessarily because it was seven as much as because of the types of penalties. A couple of personal fouls. Daniel Wise was flagged twice (which I'm sure is a no-no). And the false starts are never acceptable.

I'll ask Yenser next time we talk to him (or Beaty if we don't), but I'd guess the general team goal is fewer than five and the O-Line goal is probably one or two a game.

Obviously every team wants to play penalty-free every time out, but I doubt anyone actually thinks that's truly attainable.

Definitely worth inquiring about. I had the same thought as I was writing it. Thanks for the feedback!

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 2 months ago

The OLine committed 3 penalties on something like 95 snaps (including accepted penalties where the down was replayed), that means the OLine committed a penalty on 3% of the total attempted offensive snaps in the game. That's a pretty good number.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 2 months ago

The OLine was definitely a very pleasant surprise during the game.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 2 months ago

I wouldn't be too quick to draw any kind of conclusions based upon one game against a FCS team. OLs are tough to bring together.

We will get a better picture where we are headed with our OL this Saturday.

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