Last year, the K-State Wildcats offensive line was one of the best in the nation. Behind lineman Cornelius Lucas and B.J. Finney, the big guys up front, led the way for Collin Klein and John Hubert in one of the country’s most potent offenses.
But last week, despite five returning starters coming back to the line from 2012, the unit seemed to take a step back. The Wildcats ran 23 running plays but gained just 41 yards, less than two yards per carry.
“[North Dakota State] gave us looks that we were not ready for, and they did not give us looks that we were looking for,” Finney said. “We just have to be better overall as a team and as a unit.”
The offensive line also allowed new junior quarterback Jake Waters to be sacked three times. Waters also threw an interception that was primarily caused by him having to scramble away from pressure in the end zone.
“We got beat on the other side, and did not do all the things that we needed to do,” K-State head coach Bill Snyder said about the offensive line after the loss. “Some of the things that we needed to do, we did not.”
Usually when an offensive line struggles in a game, communication on the field in reading defenses is the issue, but Snyder doubts that was the issue last week.
“I do not know if it was communication. I do not think that was the case,” Snyder said. “They are bright enough and played together long enough.”
Finney said after the loss to the Bison that it was a variety of issues that caused the unit’s struggles.
“It was a lot of things,” Finney said. “You cannot just nail it down to one. We have to get better at them all. That is just the way it is.”
Waters thinks that it was the quality of the Bison’s defensive line that caught the Wildcats off guard.
“[The Bison] have a really good defensive line and we have a really good offensive line,” Waters said. “And for them to hit us in the mouth a little bit, we just did not get into a rhythm. That is a credit to them.”
In the end, Snyder blamed his team’s poor rushing performance on its offensive line in his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
“Number one, we did not perform as we were capable of up front and I think all of our young guys are embarrassed,” Snyder said.
Regardless of why the offensive line struggled in Week 1, the Wildcats have to improve in Week 2 up front if they want to beat the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.
“There are a lot of things that need to be corrected and a lot of it is fundamentals,” Finney said. “It is about getting back to being a tough and physical line, which we need to be against Louisiana because they have big and physical defensive linemen.”
On Tuesday, Finney said that the team as a whole had a good practice on Monday and that the squad was energized to atone for its Week 1 loss.
“A lot of guys had enthusiasm and spirit,” Finney said. “Some of us were pretty angry with the outcome on Friday and we wanted to change that. It definitely showed that people wanted to change and truly want to have something special here.”
In the end, the K-State offensive line knows it has to get itself back to the level it was playing at in 2012. If it can show that improvement in Week 2, the Wildcats could get their season back on track.
“We need to get better,” Finney said. “And we need to get this thing going now.”