2009 Football Position Breakdown: Offensive Line

Courtesy: Kansas State Athletics

This week, we've broken down all of the skill positions on the offense.  But it's time to take a look at the backbone that makes it all work: the offensive line.

One of the staples of Snyder's most successful seasons were offensive lines that were effective, if not dominant.  Players like Nick Leckey, Ryan Young, Damian McIntosh, Ryan Lilja, Todd Weiner, Barrett Brooks, and Jeromy Clary were All-Americans, NFL players, or both, and they paved the way for some of the most dominating and innovative offenses that this conference has seen.

If someone were to try and pinpoint what went wrong during the final years of Bill Snyder's first stint, and what one of the biggest issues for Ron Prince happened to be, it was having an inconsistent and/or ineffective offensive line.  During the dominating seasons in the mid-90's to the early 2000's, Kansas State was a dominant, option-based running team anchored by big, strong offensive lines that would just as soon maul the man across from them as opposed to actually block them.  During the Ron Prince era, a zone blocking scheme was favored, and linemen tended to be taller, thinner, and quicker.  However, they also tended to get abused by the opposing defensive lines.

If Snyder wants to have success the second time around, he is going to rely on new offensive line coach, Charlie Dickey, to right the ship and return the offensive line to levels K-State fans haven't seen in nearly six years.  Because doing so is every bit as important, and maybe even more than bringing back the "Lynch Mob".

I'm going to deviate from the normal format thus far because there are so many linemen, and so many guys who haven't even started a game yet, that it would be hard to do individual analysis.  Therefore, I'll post their vitals, and then I'll do an analysis on the position group as a whole.

Click the jump to see who we think will start and/or make an impact on the line this season.

 

Tackles

#64 Nick Stringer

Class: Senior
Height: 6-6
Weight: 285
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: Yes (23 games)
Honors: Team Captain (2009), Player Representative (2009)
Official Bio

#75 Clyde Aufner

Class: Sophomore
Height: 6-7
Weight: 290
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

#70 Zach Hanson

Class: Sophomore
Height: 6-8
Weight: 320
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: No
Honors:  N/A
Official Bio

#72 Kaleb Drinkgern

Class: Sophomore
Height: 6-7
Weight: 270
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

#78 Cornelius Lucas

Class: True Freshman
Height: 6-8
Weight: 306
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

#73 Will Lawson

Class: True Freshman (Grayshirt: 2008)
Height: 6-8
Weight: 290
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

 

Guards

#59 Zach Kendall

Class: Junior
Height: 6-3
Weight: 297
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: Yes (5 games)
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

#77 Colten Freeze

Class: Sophomore
Height: 6-5
Weight: 290
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: Yes (3 games)
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

#66 Eric Benoit

Class: Senior
Height: 6-4
Weight: 294
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: Yes (3 games)
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

#71 Ethan Douglas

Class: Redshirt Freshman
Height: 6-6
Weight: 295
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

#67 Kenny Mayfield

Class: Junior
Height: 6-4
Weight: 320
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

#79 Keenan Taylor

Class: True Freshman
Height: 6-5
Weight: 275
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

#76 Brock Unruh

Class: Senior
Height: 6-6
Weight: 290
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: Yes (16 starts)
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

#68 William Cooper

Class: True Freshman (Gryshirt: 2008)
Height: 6-5
Weight: 265
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: No
Honors:
Official Bio

 

Centers

#54 Trevor Viers

Class: Junior
Height: 6-5
Weight: 284
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: Yes (7 games)
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

#74 Wade Weibert

Class: Junior
Height: 6-4
Weight: 290
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

 

Projected Depth Chart:

Starters:

  • LT: Nick Stringer (SR)
  • LG: Zach Kendall (JR)
  • C: Wade Weibert (JR)
  • RG: Colten Freeze (SO)
  • RT: Clyde Aufner (SO)

 

Backups:

  • LT: Zach Hanson (SO)
  • LG: Eric Benoit (SR)
  • C: Trevor Viers (JR)
  • RG: Kenny Mayfield (JR)
  • RT: Kaleb Drinkgern (SO)

 

Justification:

The only starter that we can define with 100% certainty is Nick Stringer. His twenty-three starts are more than anyone else on the line, and he's only one of two seniors who actually look to crack the two deep at this point.  His backup will most likely be mammoth JUCO transfer, Zach Hanson.  The 6'8", 320 lb. man-mountain started for the #2 offense in the Spring Game, so I'd expect that to carry over into the regular season.

Naturally, you'd think senior, Brock Unruh, would be an obvious choice to anchor the left guard position, but earlier this month, we found out that he was lost for the year.  This means that someone else needed to step up and fill the position. The next most obvious choice for that spot would be one of the more experienced linemen on the offense, Zach Kendall.  His five starts are the fourth most of the position group, and he's moved back and forth between guard and center since he was converted to the offensive line after his freshman season.

At the center position, we're going to give the nod to Wade Weibert.  Weibert hasn't started at Kansas State yet (nor played a down), but he was a Top 50 JUCO recruit coming out of Butler Co. CC, and he started and played at center for the #1 offense for the entire Spring Game.  He didn't look too bad doing it either.  Trevor Viers looks to be a strong candidate to back up Weibert, especially since he's a former starter at the position.

The right guard position is one of the most (if not the most) difficult to predict.  No one really stands out at this position since both Colten Freeze and Eric Benoit both have three starts apiece, and junior Kenny Mayfield was the backup right guard during the Spring Game.  We'll predict Freeze to start at this point due to his status as the #1 RG coming out of the Spring, but of all of the starting positions on the line, this is the one that may fluctuate the most without the help of injury.  If Freeze doesn't impress early, I wouldn't be shocked to see either Benoit or Mayfield get a chance to start here.  Whoever doesn't win this position during fall camp will most likely backup at the left guard position, and the third place candidate will backup the starter at right guard.  During the Spring Game, Benoit backed up Unruh, and Mayfield backed up Freeze if that means anything to anyone.

Right tackle will most likely go to sophomore, Clyde Aufner.  Aufner started the Spring Game, and his size (290 lbs.) should give him the advantage over his backup in the Spring Game, Kaleb Drinkgern (270 lbs.). 

I would expect ALL of the true freshmen to redshirt this season.  If injuries become an issue, redshirt freshman, Ethan Douglas, is still available to use on the interior of the line.  I doubt that it will get that far, but the only two freshmen that would probably be options are Will Lawson and Cornelius Lucas, and that's simply due to their size.  Both Keenan Taylor and William Cooper have some growing to do.

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