MANHATTAN, Kan. — Cody Whitehair might not be able to explain why Kansas State’s offensive line, which returned all five starters, was thoroughly outplayed during the first half of the season.
By KELLIS ROBINETT
The Kansas City Star
But describing how the unit regained its swagger is simple.
“One big thing we’ve done is we’ve become a lot closer, not only on the field but off the field,” said Whitehair, a sophomore left guard. “We are doing a lot more things as a group than we have in the past. That is a big thing. When you are losing, you’ve still got to come together. I feel like that’s what we did. We came together.”
The results have been obvious. After a brutal opening six games in which K-State went 2-4 and averaged 184.1 rushing yards, the Wildcats’ front five is back to winning the line of scrimmage.
Cornelius Lucas, B.J. Finney, Keenan Taylor, Tavon Rooks and Whitehair have been opening up huge holes, and K-State runners have been zooming through them. The linemen have paved the way for an offense that has averaged 224.6 rushing yards in its last three games, all victories.
A blowout victory over Texas Tech on Saturday was the season’s high point. The Wildcats finished with 291 rushing yards, and they ran the ball so well that they built a 14-10 first-quarter lead without attempting a pass.
“Our offensive line took over and set the tone early,” quarterback Jake Waters said. “When you have the type of guys we have up front, that isn’t surprising.”
It was an offensive lineman’s dream.
“It was great,” Whitehair said. “As an offensive line, that’s what you want to do. You want to pound the ball down the defense’s throat. That’s what I felt like we did.”
During their losing streak, K-State’s linemen began eating together and started watching game replays together. The more time they spent around each other, the better their blocking became.
“On the field, we are communicating better,” Finney said. “We are getting each other’s calls, as far as defenses, and communicating better. We have just been better prepared all the way around.”