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Archive for Thursday, September 27, 2007

O-Line pleased with early effort

September 27, 2007

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Meier shows off talents outside quarterbacking

With starting QB Todd Reesing off to an excellent start this season, KU's Kerry Meier may not see much action at QB - but that won't stop this great athlete from find other ways to crack the lineup. Enlarge video

Ryan Cantrell sensed a good vibe from Kansas University's offensive line long before the football season began earlier this month.

"I was confident in the spring," KU's junior center said. "It's been a good feeling all throughout. We can go in the film room and watch film together, and everybody knows exactly what everybody's talking about. They can make each other's calls for them. It's actually pretty phenomenal."

Nothing's phenomenal enough, of course, to keep KU's line from working toward getting even closer, more on the same page and, ultimately, more effective as the season progresses.

That's why the idle week has been big for the boys up front. With the Jayhawks (4-0) off until the Kansas State showdown on Oct. 6, KU's offensive line has gone back to basics before it starts moving forward again.

"You always need a re-tune on fundamentals," Cantrell said. "We only have so much time in one day, and having an off week where we can work on base steps and work on seeing defenses and the extra time in the film and meeting rooms and to really study ourselves helps."

Cantrell anchors a line that features All-Big 12 candidate Anthony Collins (left tackle), Adrian Mayes (left guard), Chet Hartley (right guard) and Cesar Rodriguez (right tackle). Besides the opening drive in the Toledo game that Collins sat out of for disciplinary reasons, the five have had plenty of time to get comfortable with each other in game situations.

"I think it's been a process," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "Each and every week, the communication gets better. I think they're comfortable with each other. I think it's a group that has improved fundamentally each and every week."

All four of KU's nonconference opponents have blitzed heavily - sometimes at the expense of playing sound defense - to try to fluster quarterback Todd Reesing. While Toledo had some success on Sept. 15, the Jayhawks' offensive line overall has done a strong job in picking up the extra rush.

"It got everybody talking and on the same page," Cantrell said. "As long as everybody is on the same page, we're good to go."

Though the competition is the wild card, the numbers behind the offensive line back up the positive testimony. KU ranks third in the Big 12 in passing offense and fourth in rushing offense. It trails only Oklahoma in scoring offense.

As is the cliche, it all starts up front. And for the Jayhawks to continue moving the chains at an impressive pace once conference season begins, the linemen are learning that it all starts this week.

Even with no game on the schedule.

"I think this is an important week for those guys because we have focused on the fundamental aspect of the game, and it's important to those guys," Mangino said. "Good technique and fundamentals really lead to success up front."

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