Finney anchors reworked offensive line

31 Aug

B.J. Finney kept plenty busy this summer without spending much time contemplating his impressive transition from redshirt freshman to returning starter, but when he does consider it, he can hardly believe it himself.

“It’s kind of an awkward feeling,” he said with a trademark grin and a laugh earlier this month. “It’s like, ‘Wow, I’m a veteran. This isn’t right!’”

Of course, it is absolutely right. Kansas State players voted Finney a team captain this year, making him one of the youngest ever and the first non-senior offensive lineman to be named a captain since 2002. After receiving All-Big 12 accolades following last season, this summer he was named to the preseason watch list for the Rimington Trophy.

Before all that, Finney was a walk-on. He redshirted in 2010 and won the Red Raider Award for his excellence on the scout team. Last season he played at the right guard spot before moving to center and anchoring the offensive line for the Wildcats.

Needless to say, Finney is not just a veteran but a rather accomplished one at that.

“He’s definitely the leader of that O-line,” said senior tight end Travis Tannahill. “He makes the first call, and everything kind of makes its way down the line, so if he’s on the right page, you can usually figure out the rest. He’s almost always on the right page, so that will help.”

Finney and senior left guard Nick Puetz got time in games last season, but the three players around them will be getting their first taste of full-time playing time with the Wildcats. That being said, right tackle Cody Whitehair is a redshirt freshman, and left tackle Cornelius Lucas and right guard Keenan Taylor are juniors, so they aren’t completely new to the team’s system.

Though adjustments must be made and a two-deep must be solidified, Tannahill has no doubt the offensive line will quickly iron out anything that needs to be fixed – especially with the help of offensive line coach Charlie Dickey.

“They definitely have the physical abilities to do it,” Tannahill said. “[They’re] one of the more physically talented O-lines we’ve had since I’ve been here. They’re figuring out their calls. Coach Dickey will get those guys in order. I’ve got no doubt in that.”

The Wildcats will face a unique defense Saturday from Missouri State, one that is very movement-oriented and likes to blitz. Whether the offensive line is quite ready or not, it has the confidence of quarterback Collin Klein. Before the start of fall camp a month ago, Klein characterized the players as a hardworking group, making up for its inexperience with focus and attention to detail. As of Tuesday, the quarterback still had only praise for his protectors up front.

“They’re doing great,” Klein said. “We’re all going to make mistakes. I’m sure they’re not going to be any different on Saturday, but we’re together, we’re going to get better, and there will be no exception to that.”

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