Kansas State’s 2019 football team relied on a strong offensive line and several seniors who are now gone. This leaves question marks at most of the positions in the trenches.
Only three players with time on the line last season return, but senior center Noah Johnson provided a look at what the offensive line may look like this season.
“I’ve been hearing [about how inexperienced the offensive line is] ever since the season ended last year,” Johnson said. “At some point [former second-team All-Big 12 tackle] Scott Frantz had to start his first game, he didn’t walk in as a 30-game starter… I will gladly trade a little bit of inexperience for a group of guys who are playing hungry.”
Johnson, a Wichita native, saw playing time in three games last year after transferring to K-State from Butler County Community College.
“There’s obviously going to be growing pains, that’s football and that’s life,” Johnson said. “I’m super excited to go through those growing pains with this group because I think there is just a ton of talent in our room.”
The Wildcats will likely rely on redshirt freshmen and sophomores with very limited experience to fill in the gaps left by last year’s line.
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Redshirt freshman Cooper Beebe, for example, saw a little action last year but retained his redshirt status under the new redshirting rules which allow players to appear in four games but save the season as a whole.
“He’s a super hard worker, everything starts with that,” Johnson said. “On top of that, that kid is really, really athletic for his size and really explosive and fluid. … He’s going to have a really big year this year and I’m really excited to have him in our room.”
For an offensive line, working together and growing into a cohesive unit is the key to a successful season. With the limited practice this offseason, K-State will be disadvantaged from a cohesiveness standpoint.
“Missing 15 practices of getting to go against our defense… is tough,” Johnson said. “When we had that month-long for bowl prep we would do these developmental sessions… our group was taking the majority of the reps. I think having about a month of taking heavy reps together put us in a good place.”
Still, Johnson admitted that in camp there were still times he went the wrong way on plays and that is something he will have to “keep chipping away at.” He also said senior quarterback Skylar Thompson was jumping in on offensive line film sessions to help the group develop.
The offensive line’s first test of the newly shortened season is slated for Sept. 12 against Arkansas State in Manhattan, giving the Wildcats almost a month to prepare.