Football and Chain

By Kyle Rowland on October 23, 2013 at 9:15a
Our line can beat up your line (Kirk Irwin photo).

Relationships factor into every facet of one’s life – family, friends, employment and on and on. It’s no secret that cooperation makes all activities and interactions easier. For five Ohio State offensive linemen, a 1,500-pound steam engine behind which an efficient offense is powered, solid footing has meant camaraderie and cohesion on and off the football field.

Someone who shares in their good-natured friendship is head coach Urban Meyer. He’s referred to the line as the backbone of the team and his favorite players. Jack Mewhort, Andrew, Corey Linsley, Marcus Hall and Taylor Decker form a unit that is unbeaten in trench warfare.

The latest shelling of an opponent came last Saturday in Ohio Stadium, when the offensive line contributed to a traditional Big Ten grind-it-out victory. Meyer was quick to build up the line in what has become a weekly tradition. Saturday’s in the fall present multiple constants – college football, 105,000 people showing up to Ohio Stadium and the Buckeyes’ offensive line pushing someone around.

The scoreboard showed a 10-point margin, but the offense’s dominance went much further. Ohio State finished with 30 first downs and nearly 500 yards of total offense. The four returning senior starters on the line graded out as champions with Decker earning honorable mention accolades. The most impressive stat isn’t the amount of rushing yards, points scored or first downs tallied. Far more astounding is the lack of penalties, as in zero. That’s how many times the O-line was flagged against Iowa.

“We talk about them all being connected, almost like a chain,” offensive line coach Ed Warinner said. “It’s a strong unit that has a lot of camaraderie. They’ve played a lot of games together, and it’s a lot of fun to watch them do their thing out there.”

Aside from Meyer and Warinner, perhaps no one is a bigger supporter of the line than one Carlos Hyde.  In four games this season, Hyde has gained a team-high 443 rushing yards and scored five touchdowns. One of those touchdowns came Saturday and only seemed possible with the use of a joystick.

“To me, Carlos Hyde is the best running back in college football,” Hall said. [That run] doesn’t surprise me at all. He just looks at us and tells us when we go, he goes.”

The team has six negative rushing yardage plays in 210 attempts. Hyde has zero in 72 rushing tries. Those types of stats are why every running back is accumulating at least five yards a carry.

“It says we probably don’t have many missed assignments,” Warinner said.

“We talk about them all being connected, almost like a chain. it’s a lot of fun to watch them do their thing out there.” 
– Ed Warinner

Part of why the line has gelled so well is due to their personalities, which contrast greatly with one another. Warinner described the quintet as unique. Scientists could study the offensive line meeting room and come away shaking their heads.

“That whole group is a bunch of characters,” Warinner said. “There are five guys that are all very different, very different.”

Said Hall: “We try to pride ourselves on being able to run the ball. Not taking anything away from the pass, but when we go to the run game we don’t want anybody to stop us.”

So far, they haven’t been. It’s become a ritual in the meeting room to give notable performance three claps. For instance, Hall received three claps from his linemates this week for his outing against Iowa. What the line should do is give themselves a standing ovation.

Warinner said the extra week of practice helped. But not every game has been met with an off week. Whether it’s five, seven or 13 days of preparation they receive, the offensive line appears up to the task. Coaches are creatures of perfection, and when they speak in glowing terms on a consistent basis, rest assured the performances have been praise worthy.

The continued advancement of Decker has been a contributor in the entire offensive line’s reputation. Game 1 for Decker left much to be desired. Reid Fragel made it possible to earn a paycheck from the Cincinnati Bengals after blossoming into a dependable right tackle last year. The drop off to Decker hasn’t been visible.  

“I’m like a little brother to them,” Decker said. “I do feel I’ve improved and gotten a little closer to them, but it’s kind of a little brother relationship. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

It comes full with teasing, thanks to the upperclassmen. The fun and games could have stopped after the opener, when Decker was overmatched a majority of his time on the field. But his buddies picked him up instead of letting him teeter.

“He’s settled down and been very solid,” Warinner said.

Friends and teammates – the Ohio State offensive line is a group of misfit characters, a band of brothers who’ve found a home and thrived in an atmosphere of patience.


Comments Show All Comments

CC's picture

Good write up.  The o-line is often under-appreciated, but there are many examples of how it can change a team.  This line has been really good for 2 years and lookie lookie, 19 wins in a row.  Mizzou had injuries all over the line last year, 1 year later with a healthly line they are 7-0.  Bama had a great line last year and lookie lookie.
Michigan is benching players on thier line and lookie lookie they almost lose to Akron and UConn.

buckeyemondo's picture

The team has six negative rushing yardage plays in 210 attempts. Hyde has zero in 72 rushing tries. Those types of stats are why every running back is accumulating at least five yards a carry.

those are just insane statistics.  remember when we all thought urban & tom would be throwing it all over the yard?

scrotieMcboogerballs's picture

Didn't Marcus Hall have his '1-2 times each game' false start penalty? Being nit-picky, but the line is playing great...

"Who do you think you are?!?!...I am!!"  -Pete Weber, bowling legend and dominator of the English language

tbdbitlbuck's picture

Marcus had a false start on Ohio State's first drive.

Knarcisi's picture

Yes, JB, I mean Marcus, did have one on the first drive.

Kyle Rowland's picture

Hall told me his false start was due to the linebacker clapping to mimic Braxton Miller calling for the snap. 

swobuckeye's picture

My question is, do we have suitable replacements in the event something happens to one of these guys? 

InHartWeTrust's picture

They are not yet as good or developed as the starters (hence the starters being starters), but UFM and Warriner have said many times how well the younger backups are developing.  I believe I have read a few times that they have said they can be trusted to step in if necessary.

texbuck's picture

Great stuff.  It's a shame that OL is a position that really needs to operate as a unit, unlike the DL where we can rotate a lot of guys in to give them in-game experience.
This will hurt us next year when we lose these four seniors and have to bring in some very green players as starters.  It would help if we could build some more sizeable leads this year so that we would be comfortable with the drop off that would come with bringing in a younger guy or two to give them some experience.

InHartWeTrust's picture

I believe Alabama did this very same thing this year, and it's worked for them.  I'd like to think tOSU can and will do the same next year.

Buckeye1004's picture

I'm living the dream this year, but we lose 4 of 5 OL next year.  Meyer would have my a.. for looking this far ahead.  How does the cupboard look?

ScarletGray43157's picture

Football games are won and lost in the trenches.  This will always be true unless they find a way to pussify that part of the field too.  

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

pjtobin's picture

Next year the linesmen have a stare contest, while paddy caking. First one to blink loses. The winner may go around or eat a small snack provided by the loser. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

nw_ohio_Buckeye's picture

No coincidence that the resurgence in the OL correlates directly to the Exit of The Walrus...coo, coo, cajoo. Coach Meyer will have no problem recruiting big, fast backs after El Guapo's display this season. Onward! Go Bucks!

"The minute I think I'm getting mellow, I'm retiring. Who ever heard of a mellow winner?" ~ Woody Hayes 

BuckeyeB9B82501's picture

Great write up. This is one of the best O Lines I have seen here at Ohio State! Last year was a good unit too. But this years unit is turning into a GREAT O Line. Starting to look like the early - mid 90's. Coop had built some of the best O lines at Ohio State. UFM is building some of the best O lines Ohio State has seen in hits rich history. Keep it up. It all starts up front. GO BUCKS!!!

Buckeye Dynasty starts in 2014 baby !!!!!! GO BUCKS !!!!!!!! O - H - I - O

XUbuckeye's picture

Coach Warinner is the man! I'm hoping UFM can convince him into staying for a while. With losing 4/5 to graduation, I want Warinner around to break in the new starters next year.

"So when you get knocked on your butt, get up, get over it, and then next time, kick their ass." - Woody Hayes 

Hovenaut's picture

As Urban as said, the o-line is the heart and soul of the team.

Warriner deserves credit along with the guys. I'm enjoying this year, but eager to see just how integral a job he does with a young and talented group in 2014.

KLF Buckeye's picture

Based on the Iowa game depth chart (seen on another OSU blog) the next man up at: 
RT was redshirt freshman Kyle Dodson (6'6"/310) or redshirt sophomore Tommy Brown (6'4"/306)
At RG we had redshirt freshman Pat Elflein (6'3"/295)...Pat also practices at Center
At C we had sophomore Jacoby Boren (Zach's brother) (6'2"/290) 
At LG redshirt freshman Pat Elflein was listed again
At LT we had fourth year junior Daryl Baldwin (6'6"/310) who converted to the OL after two seasons on the defensive side of the ball
There doesn't seem to be a lot of playing time among these guys and the most senior of the group (Baldwin) switched to the OL in the spring of 2012. The good news is Decker returning and the backups seeing an excellent example to follow next year.
Perhaps the 11W gurus can offer some analysis of these guys? Might be good material for our next bye week.