Spring Preview: Offensive Line

Manhattan - Coach Prince will look to lend his expertise to the Offensive Line this spring, building a cohesive unit and correcting mistakes- that at times plagued the Cats last year. With multiple choices and options to be had and new high profile faces in the mix, the Wildcat Offensive Line will be a cornerstone this Spring for improvement.

Quarterback Josh Freeman started only eight games of last season after backing up then-senior Dylan Meier for the first five.

Meier has since graduated, and Freeman will enter his sophomore season as the unquestioned No. 1 quarterback. There are many aspects of the game he and his teammates would like to correct before the start of next year, but one glaring weakness in K-State's offense from a year ago was the fact that Freeman spent most of his freshman campaign either on his back or throwing the ball to the team wearing the opposite color jerseys.

He appeared in 11 total games, throwing only six touchdown passes to 15 interceptions. Even in his limited playing time, he was still dragged down enough to rank as the fourth-highest-sacked quarterback in the Big 12 Conference, going down 26 times.

Freeman made a lot of nifty plays with his feet last season, including that game-winning 21-yard scamper which clinched the 31-27 victory over Oklahoma State in his first career start. He ended last year with 163 yards gained on the ground, but after all the sacks and lost-yardage runs, he netted negative 21 total rushing yards.

This could have been a product of an offensive line that started six different lineups and also saw 11 different players receive at least one start throughout last year.

Senior Logan Robinson is one of those offensive linemen who received significant playing time a year ago as he held down the right guard position for the final four games of the season.

He said the offensive line did take a lot of the blame for why Freeman could not get a comfortable pocket to throw from very often, and spring time is the best time to start improving that crucial area.

"That has a lot to do with the offensive line and we take a lot of responsibility for that," Robinson said. "That's something that we severely want to correct to make sure that doesn't happen again. It's focused on everybody doing their job right and doing what they're supposed to do, which is something we want to correct as soon as possible."

Coach Ron Prince said the large number of players who received playing time last year is going to do nothing but help this years team because now there are many players with plenty of game experience.

"We have a number of players who are improving their skills. When you multiply that with the number of variables that they are seeing from the defense in the spring, they are improving and they are getting challenged," Prince said. "It is one of those things where with all the versatility and multiplicity that we are showing on defense it has now added another brick to the load for those guys, which is good. We have been real pleased with how they are getting prepared and how they have been at practice."

More practice is one way to make the front five better, but Prince has also decided to improve the line by bringing in more of them. He went all the way to San Francisco (Calif.) Community College to find a possible left tackle in Alesana Alesana. Alesana was a 2006 first-team California all-state selection by the coaches association while helping the Rams to an 18-3 record and two Nor Cal championships, which included a berth in the title game last year. CCSF averaged 409 yards per game last year and Alesana anchored an offensive line that saw its quarterback finish third in the state in total offense.

He said he has been adapting to the speed of Division I football while struggling to learn the new offense, but his experience with the Rams will help him as he tries to become the starting left tackle for the Wildcats next season.

"The first practice with the team was horrible, but I feel like I'm getting better. You learn to play and keep progressing and I feel like I'm adjusting well now," Alesana said. "Hopefully I can help eliminate the sacks from last year. I am going to just try and eliminate as many of them as possible."

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