Take former tight end Derek Fine. Okay, so maybe he's not a true offensive lineman, but Fine was beloved by Kansas fans in large part because of his penchant for throwing big downfield blocks, frequently springing teammates for big gains.
On Saturday, redshirt freshman offensive guard Duane Zlatnik flashed a little of that Fine-esque ability a couple of times. At 6-foot-4 and 326 pounds, the native of Rossville, Kan. is a load to handle in the trenches, but his athleticism makes him effective in the second and third levels as well.
Late in the first quarter of last Saturday's blowout victory over New Mexico State, quarterback Jordan Webb took the snap out of the shotgun and drifted backward, setting up a screen pass.
He lofted the ball to senior running back Angus Quigley, who saw open field in front of him and sprinted for the sideline, and who was running escort?
Duane Zlatnik. The mammoth guard ran interference before engaging a safety 25 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, ensuring a big play for his teammate.
Though he was in the starting lineup for the season-opener versus North Dakota State, Zlatnik was bumped down in the rotation after junior Jeremiah Hatch returned versus Georgia Tech.
He played a significant number of snaps against NMSU, however, and Head Coach Turner Gill is extremely pleased with the freshman's development.
"He's probably the one guy, if I go back from spring to where we are today, he's the one guy I would say has probably made the most improvement," he said, of Zlatnik. "He's definitely in the mix of getting more playing time. I can say he will get more playing time; whether he starts or not, we're still going through that process."