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Kansas State’s line ready for Kent State test

POSTED September 15, 2011 10:15 p.m.

MANHATTAN — Kansas State was stellar on defense in its season opener. Good thing, too, or the Wildcats would have lost in humiliating fashion to Eastern Kentucky.
The offense figures it had better hold up its end of the bargain this weekend, when Kansas State returns from an early bye week to face Kent State. The big guys up front in particular.
“We’re just kind of out to prove something this week,” said Nick Puetz, who moved into the starting left guard spot between games. “We can play, we have some players, and we can go out there and get the job done. It’s a team effort, but we don’t have to have the defense win us the game.
“We need to go out there this week and show that we’re a good offense. We can survive.”
The Wildcats’ lone touchdown in their 10-7 win over Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 3 came with less than 2 minutes left in the game. They amassed a meager 303 yards of total offense — a figure that puts them 100th nationally. And everyone on offense felt responsible for the performance.
The big uglies up front took particular umbrage.
Kansas State’s offensive line spent extra time breaking down film of their mistakes last week, and coach Bill Snyder said the errors he saw were largely correctable. Part of it had to do with so many players on the field for the first time in a game, and that nervousness got in the way of doing things right.
“It’s little things, like taking the right first step for an offensive lineman to put yourself in the right position,” Puetz said. “Little things that all of us can control that the defense had no control over.”
While Kent State’s offense is about as lightly regarded as Kansas State’s at this point in the season, the winless Golden Flashes have a stout defense that forced five turnovers against Alabama in their season opener two weeks ago.
Snyder emphasized that Kent State employs a very movement-oriented defense, which means difficult preparation for Kansas State’s offensive line.
“For our lineman, the ability to get off on the snap, not be slow off the ball, I think is important, and to be able to have anticipation on the things that are going to take place,” Snyder said.
He added that most of what the players need to do falls under the category of focus and discipline, including taking the right steps and correctly reacting to what happens, especially since the Kent State defense moves so much.
“We’re expecting a challenge,” Kansas State freshman lineman B.J. Finney said. “The strength of their defense is the front four, and so it is our job to block the front four and know exactly what they’re going to do. When they shift or stem or do something that most people don’t know what they’re doing, it’s our job to know what they’re doing and how they’re going to do it, better than they do.”
While the offensive line isn’t overconfident, it isn’t timid, either.
“We’ve made progress,” Finney said. “We’ve had some good practices. We just went back to the grindstone even harder than we had been before because we had a wake-up call with Eastern Kentucky. I think we’re just trying to give a better performance and keep growing as a unit.”

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