Jayhawks’ first practice in pads doesn’t affect O-line

Kansas Jayhawks

LAWRENCE, KS (KSNT) – Full pads means the new coaches are getting to see what their players can do for the first time.

Believe it or not, it doesn’t make a big difference for the offensive line.

“When you’re inside with a lineman, you’re really still using the same physicality and stuff,” center Mike Novitsky said. “It’s just more huddling. Huddling around the ball when a running back breaks something and making sure there’s no fumbles.”

Novitsky is one of multiple transfers from the University of Buffalo who followed the new coaching staff.

“He hasn’t flinched one second about being in a different area, blocking bigger guys on a daily basis,” head coach Lance Leipold said. “I think the other part is, and I’ve heard this from some of the guys– Malik Clark being one of them, about his ability to teach and help the other guys out as quickly as he has.”

The Jayhawks are practicing a lot of wide zone offense, which requires the lineman to move laterally to block for the running back. 

“We can stretch the defense really well, and then we can cut it back and we can run a lot of stuff off of that,” Novitsky said. “A lot of twists and tricks off of the play, and I think wide zone just really sets the whole offense up.”

The changes don’t stop there. Linebacker Jay Dineen says he lost 25 lbs., 9 percent body fat and gained 2 lbs. of muscle. He said it allows him to move side-to-side better.

The players and coaches make it obvious they’re having fun, have great chemistry and can only get better.

“In the locker room, we’ve got a great group of guys who want to get better, who want to win, who want to attack every day,” Novitsky said. “I want to be a part of it, and I want to be a part of the change.”

Leipold shortened practices to ditch hot weather. He says the team is getting the same amount of reps, sometimes more than they did when practices were longer. Leipold thinks his years in Division III helped prepare him for this because they don’t get the extra spring practice there.

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