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Hanson Answers Early Call

By Mark Janssen
 
 
For most non-starters in a football game, it's only natural to be in a bit of a coast-mode at kickoff time. The level of attention simply isn't as sharp as for the 11 starters.
 
But for Zach Hanson, that old football adage of being just one snap away from being in the fire of action came true on the third snap of the game against UCLA.
It was on Kansas State's second snap of the season that starting right tackle Ethan Douglas lay crumpled on the turf of Bill Snyder Family Stadium with an injury to his left knee.
 
"During warm-ups, I was just hoping I could get in at some point," said Hanson, a 6-foot-8, 305-pound junior, who has been nagged with injuries this fall. "Your first reaction is whether Ethan is OK. It's a tough thing when a guy goes down because he's a friend and you're taking his position."
 
But then one quickly goes about doing the job at hand. For Hanson, a preseason starter at left tackle, that job was to switch his thinking from the left side to Douglas' right side.
 
Saying the vast majority of his snaps were taken on the left side this fall, Hanson said, "In my mind, every play had to be flipped. At left tackle, you step with your right foot, at right tackle you step with your left foot. Every step you make is exactly the opposite as to what I've been working on. Everything I did was exactly backwards. I'm looking forward to having a whole week of practice this week to get things right."
 
In all honesty, Hanson said he tried the best he could to be mentally prepared to enter the game at either of the tackles.
 
As he said, junior college transfer Manase Foketi was " ... making his first big-time start at left tackle, and you just never know how that's going to go," and, Douglas was making his first career start at right tackle, and, "... you don't know how that's going to go.
 
"I knew I was a backup on both sides, so I tried to be ready to go in, but it was a shock to do so after just two plays," said Hanson, a 2008 transfer from Sacramento Community College.
 
With Hanson playing a significant role, K-State's offensive line was productive enough for Daniel Thomas to rush for 234 yards and for the team to rush for 313 yards.
 
Coach Bill Snyder said of the offensive line, "Our guys played all 72 snaps, and when we really had to have it in the last quarter, they said, 'Let's do it.' I thought they were energized and competitive and they battled late in the game when it was an absolute must."
 
In that second half, K-State snapped the ball 33 times and gained 272 yards. Of those, 28 were running plays for 247 yards.
 
"Coach (Charlie) Dickey said we needed a grinder's mentality," said Hanson. "We had great backs to block for, but if a pass was called, we would still be ready to go and ready to attack people."
 
The game was especially satisfying to Hanson because he's a native of the Sacramento, Calif., area where he received a token recruiting visit from UCLA.
 
"It was a quick hello, but nothing panned out," said Hanson. "At first I wanted to stay in California for my family, but I'm happy to be where I am now and playing against teams like that, and beating them."
 
Hanson initially signed a national letter at Nevada, but never enrolled in classes. He transferred to Sacramento Community College where he played in 2007, and then after considering Arizona and South Florida, he transferred to K-State in 2008 when he redshirted.
 
"I wanted to get my career going at a high level," said Hanson of leaving SCC after only one season. "My coach wasn't happy about it, but I had my career to think about. I wouldn't want to be any place else right now."
 
 
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com.