We’ve got a depth chart to discuss. Repeat, we’ve got a depth chart to discuss!
#50 - Cooper Beebe - 6’3” - 320 - Sophomore
#77 - Carver Willis - 6’5” - 290 - RS Freshman
In a perfect world, your left tackle isn’t also your stud, 6’3”, 320 pound guard. It’s become abundantly clear over the last two years that this is not a perfect world. Beebe is a mauler in the run game, but struggled some in pass protection when he shifted outside to tackle. If he gets his hands on a defensive lineman, they may as well throw up the white flag and try again the next snap.
I anticipate a speed rusher lined up against him on every 3rd and medium/long. It’s going to be a race to the corner in pass protection, the defensive end is going to get low and try and make the turn. If Beebe can consistently get there first, the Wildcats are in great shape. He’ll have ample opportunity to prove himself, because the other team will be gunning for the shortish left tackle.
Willis is a more traditional tackle option. He’s taller, lighter, and in theory, should be able to get to the corner quicker than Beebe. At the same time, he’s light years behind in terms of run blocking. If the Wildcats get down in a game and have to throw regularly, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Beebe shift inside and Willis come into the game at left tackle.
Odd Man Out
When the coaching staff signed Juco transfer Kingsley Ugwu late, I liked the idea of him coming in and playing left tackle out of the box, allowing Beebe to shift inside. It was a tall ask, and it hasn’t happened (yet). In fact, he’s nowhere to be found on the depth chart week 1. If the big man from Hutch can get up to speed, it would be huge. Not having a spring camp put him significantly behind.
#76 - Josh Rivas - 6’6”, 317 - Senior
#70 - KT Leveston - 6’4”, 326 - Junior
#62 - Dawson Delforge - 6’5”, 324 - Senior
Josh Rivas is a mauling left guard, with enough mobility to do everything the pull heavy Kansas State offense asks of him. The Wildcats may have the most physical left side in college football. Teams are going to struggle to find Deuce in the backfield behind Rivas and Beebe because they are going to have defenders staring up at the sky, pondering cloud formations, and considering their future in football.
Dawson Delforge is a nice depth piece. He played in 8 games last season after transferring from Butler. He’s another massive human being who plays the game with bad intentions from whistle to whistle. Guard may be the deepest position on the roster.
Odd Man Out
Back in my perfect world, KT Leveston is the left tackle because the big man out of Waco dropped some weight and his pass protection skills improved exponentially. In this world, Josh Rivas is the starting left guard and KT is in the mix with Dawson Delforge because his pass protection skills are...ahem...better utilized at the guard position.
#69 - Noah Johnson - 6’1”, 300 - Senior
#55 - Hayden Gillum - 6’3”, 290 - Junior
It’s strange to say a 6’1”, 300 monster of a human being is “small” but such is life on the Kansas State offensive line. Johnson is the straw that stirs the offense line drink. He makes the line calls. He snaps the ball to the quarterback. Noah excels at both of these tasks. If I were a defensive coordinator (and I most certainly am not), I would put a nose guard right on his face mask and tell him to take Johnson with him to quarterback on every snap. If the grizzled vet at center has a weakness, it’s his ability to stand up to that sort of player on a snap to snap basis.
The back up center spot is always interesting because it’s such a specialized position. If Johnson has to step out of the game for a moment to relieve himself, Gillum runs into the game. If Johnson wins the lottery but is forced to move to a secluded island during the football season to claim his winnings, I’m not sure Gillum is the long term replacement.
Odd Man Out
This section is worded poorly, but I’m going to roll with it for the sake of consistency. Andrew Leingang is next in line at center, long term. He still needs to fill out his 6’5” frame, and from the looks of it, his eating and lifting has been effective thus far. I don’t think you’ll see much of him this season unless there is an absolute emergency, but you’ll get to know young Mr. Leingang extremely well in the not too distant future.
#63 - Ben Adler - 6’4”, 324 - Senior
#54 - Hadley Panzer - 6’3”, 300 - Freshman
Ben Adler is another human/piece of farm equipment capable of engulfing other human beings with his size and strength. He’s not as big as Josh Rivas, but he may be a touch more athletic. His job is to clear the path for Deuce. He does that well.
Panzer has done an incredible job to show up on the first depth chart of the season after starting his career as a grey shirt. He’s not as big as Adler or Rivas, but his name comes up a good bit when the coaches talk about stand out practice players. He provides more speed coming around the corner in the power running game. Don’t be surprised if you see him utilized as the 3rd guard in the rotation.
Odd Man Out
Again, poorly worded, but Sophomore guard Taylor Poitier had a chance to start over Ben Adler this season, and would certainly have been a primary back up before a lower leg injury ended his year in camp. In terms of interior linemen, he’s the best pure athlete of the bunch. He’ll sit out this year, add some good weight, and be ready to go in 2022.
#73 - Christian Duffie - 6’5”, 300 - Junior
#71 - Logan Long - 6’4”, 314 - Senior
Duffie cemented his spot in the lineup during the Covid ravaged 2020 season. He started games at left and right tackle and did a respectable job. He played guard in high school before moving out to tackle, but his run blocking skills remain top notch. I like what he did in pass protection last year and think he’ll thrive as a permanent right tackle.
Long is another guy who probably wouldn’t start if Duffie had to miss time, but the former tight end is a nice, “get in there and don’t mess up!” type of of player. You need those guys on your team.
Odd Man Out
There aren’t a ton of other game ready tackle options on the roster. Witt Mitchum is still developing his body and is a redshirt freshman. If Duffie were forced to miss any substantial amount of time, I would expect Carver Willis to fill this role. Kingsley Ugwu and KT Leveston are other potential names to watch for at right tackle as the season moves along.
This is a mauling, road grading offense line capable of overwhelming defensive lines with their sheer mass. The left side of the line, in particular, is straight up nasty. Pass protection is going to be the issue, but their run blocking ability should set up the play action game nicely, which in turn, helps slow the pass rush.
This line is built to play with a lead and grind the opposition into the dirt. Controlling the ball, limiting turn overs, and letting these big dudes eat will be the key to the season for the Wildcats.
If they’re dominant (and I think they will be) everything else should fall into place.