I probably won't follow through significantly breaking down each position group, but I would welcome other members to do so if you think you have a good grasp on the other position groups. Ideally, it would be nice to the offense finished off first, but whatever...maybe my idea of a series dies after I finish authoring this gem. The reason I am compelled to compose something on the offensive line this early, is because I think there are some items being overlooked that should help comfort those freaking out about losing 'three seniors' from last year's line. Follow the jump to consider my reasons to Hope.
Being the eternal optimist that I am, I thought I would point out a few nuggets of information that I'm not sure everyone is cognizant of when it comes to our probable outlook for the 2 deep in 2011.
First off I think it's pretty safe to say Foketi and Hanson are pretty much set in stone. But I think it's also probable to consider Clyde Aufner, who had a handful of starts in 2010, to see action as well. But from there you have Colton Freeze and Cornelius Lucas who saw a fair share of playing time in 2010, even though they never started. Point is, beyond the three obvious veterans, it's not like we are falling short on real game time experience. What I mean is, we have a handful of guys who we won't be marching out on the field as 'green' as you might think. The most obvious noticeable changeover will definitely be the spot left open at Center by Wade Weibert. Either way you can see what nice things Bracket had to say going into last year's season about the aforementioned kids.
The second part of the equation, and the meat of my insight that I think people have forgotten about, is what I like to call the X-factors.
X-factor 1: First off I want to give a shout out to 8 miles down the road east of my current residence to Basehor native Ethan Douglass. If you remember Douglass was a starter who went down I think in the second set of downs of the UCLA game last year. My logic here tells me if Coach Snyder and Dickey thought he was ready for the home opener, then he must be a special athlete. My guess would be someone who got such a brief taste of D1 football, got there by hard work, and will be working even harder to get back there for 2011.
X-factor 2: Nick Puetz. Puetz is another KS native, this one from Salina, whom becomes eligible this year for playing after transferring back from Wyoming. Puetz was a second team all conference selection in the JuCo ranks at Coffeyville prior to his Wyoming days. Potential here is measured in the fact that a Mountain West School (a conference I personally rank as the 5th best in BCS conferences) picked him up. So this kid's no stranger to D1 football, but might be slightly behind the curve. Regardless he's another 306lb body that's a long cry from the days of Ron Prince.
X-factor 3: BJ Finney. Finney was one of the few players mentioned outside of the Brown brothers as one as one that was shining bright in the post season practices leading up to the Pinstripe Bowl. Another KS kid here, was definitely getting his name in the papers (tried to link to Manhattan Mercury story, but the website is no longer hosting that one in their archives: crica Dec. 17, 2010) in December, this one hailing from Andale. Finney was a scout team red-shirt freshman last year, but the apparent praise appears deserving as he made the Wichita Eagle's yearly "Top 11" football team as a first team selection following his Senior season in 2009 along the likes of OU qb Blake Bell and our very own DeMarcus Robinson. Finney was also apparently the class 4A wrestling heavy weight class runner-up as a junior and state champion as a Senior. Wrestlers understand leverage (something I can attest to as a former HS wrestler - 1 year at 119lbs), which I think helps you become a better lineman (something I cannot attest to - never played football when entering HS at 119lbs).
X-factor 4: Coach Dickey. Need I say more? I'll be honest I'm one who's huge on this guy, but I have to tell it like it is: there was a mid to late season regression last year. The good news was, it wasn't a huge step backward in my mind considering how they played earlier in the year. I think most of that was attributed more to being out manned at the line (a strength & conditioning and depth chart issue), more than anything and the lack of a scrambling qb as sacks picked back up. In that same stretch is where you saw DT take a dip in stats as well. However this line was fairly disciplined throughout the whole year I thought, and there weren't a fajillion back to back Alsena Alsena false starts (with the exception of the Mizzu game, but what wasn't falling apart that day?)/ Point is, overall I think there are some factors working in our favor (added depth, another year under that strength & conditioning coach we ripped off from KU) that I think might correct themselves over the course of the year in 2011 with the help of Dickey's coaching.
With the X-factors being identified, there's then a third layer of athletes, the recruits. Namely here, I'm referring to Shaun Simon, who was considered a good steal from the University of Tulsa following a coaching change out of Hutch CC and Cody Whitehair. I've been told Whitehair was a man among boys in the 4A ranks, and is one of the few that is actually as close as you'll get to being built D1 ready coming from 4A KS ranks. My sources tell me though, he's struggling to get qualified and has been taking many ACTs, so keep an eye out for Whitehair to be a placement. Hopefully things work out for him though that he can come straight to KSU.
All in all I think we're shaping up to be pretty solid across the board with this line