University of Kansas

Kansas offensive line looks to improve

LAWRENCE — Entering the season, the Kansas offensive line was supposed to be one of the team's strengths. The unit returned five starters and figured to provide needed stability for a young quarterback.

It took one game to turn the KU line into possibly the most sobering negative to come out of last Saturday's 6-3 loss to North Dakota State.

"Unfortunately, our guys didn't come off the ball," KU coach Turner Gill said. "We didn't knock them off the ball. We gotta do some things better, that's the bottom line. They won the battle up front."

Kansas gave up four sacks to the Bison and struggled to run the football. Luckily for the Jayhawks, there is renewed hope heading into today's game against the more formidable front seven of Georgia Tech.

Two-year starter Jeremiah Hatch, who had been benched because of undisclosed issues, will be starting at center, moving Sal Capra back to his natural position at left guard. With Tanner Hawkinson at left tackle, Trevor Marrongelli at right guard and Brad Thorson at right tackle, there's reason to think there will be more continuity the rest of the way.

We just haven't had a settled five there," KU offensive coordinator Chuck Long said.

KU lost two-year starter Jeff Spikes due to a lower-leg injury in the offseason. Spikes' injury forced Brad Thorson, who came to Kansas as a center or guard, to play tackle. Without Hatch and Spikes, the Jayhawks went with sophomore Duane Zlatnik at left guard and had to play Capra at center for the first time.

Hatch has been known as the emotional leader of the group for the past two seasons. Now, he has himself in a position to get the unit back on solid footing.