Going into this 2020 season, the Wildcats had a young and inexperienced offensive line. As Senior Day arrives, the offensive line has done a solid job given the tough circumstances the Wildcats faced this season.
A redshirt freshman, Cooper Beebe has been a big part of the production on the offensive line.
The Wildcats are coming off a 32-31 loss to the Baylor Bears, but the running game was successful — rushing for 256 total yards — all in the absence of two key starters on the offensive line.
Beebe’s main position is right tackle, but he was able to adjust to play the left guard position against Baylor.
“I knew once we lost Josh [Rivas] and Ben [Adler] on Friday that coach [Chris Klieman] needed me to go in,” Beebe said. “He thought I needed to go in at left guard, but I felt really comfortable being on the inside. It felt more natural to me.”
The blocking performance on the wounded offensive line showed strong depth and resilience, which is a good sign of what’s to come from a group consisting mostly of freshmen and sophomores.
“We didn’t even flinch when they went down,” Beebe said. “Taylor [Poitier] and Dawson [Delforge] stepped up, Taylor had a heck of a game, and we just took a step forward and continued to grind it out.”
In the season opener against Arkansas State, the inexperience showed in the miscues that played a big role in the loss. Later on, 256 rushing yards gave the Wildcats a great shot at defeating Baylor on the road when the Wildcats were short-handed.
“I just think that the repetition and the amount of reps we have taken in live games has helped,” Beebe said. “Coming in, none of our linemen have had any live reps, and we are starting to build and mold together. I think the continued reps in practice and the games have really bonded us together. We are starting to build chemistry with each other.”
With a four-game losing streak and a 4-5 record, Kansas State is out of contention to compete for a spot in the Big 12 Championship, but there is still motivation for the Wildcats to defeat the Texas Longhorns on Saturday.
“The last couple of weeks have been tough for us,”’ Beebe said. “I think we are taking steps. We are definitely motivated for Senior Day and to get these seniors a win.”
Head coach Chris Klieman says he could not be more pleased with the growth he has seen from the offensive line this season, and he knows, under offensive line coach Connor Riley, this group has great potential after the performance against Baylor.
“We played physical — we competed,” Kleiman said. “I am excited for those guys. It is a young group that continues to improve. We just got to sustain that, and be more consistent. The youth we have and the guys we have coming back, I am excited for the future. Coach Riley is doing a terrific job with those guys.”