Elflein's Emergence on Offensive Line Brightens 2014 Outlook

By Kyle Rowland on December 10, 2013 at 2:45p
23 Comments
No. 65 is the future of the offensive line.

On a scale of 1-10, the loss of four starting offensive linemen for next season verges on a 12 when head coach Urban Meyer is asked. For two seasons, Jack Mewhort, Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley and Marcus Hall formed the nucleus of an offense that etched its name all over the Ohio State record book while winning 24 consecutive games.

Next year, there will be no Carlos Hyde and four new starters on the line. Following the Big Ten Championship Game, quarterback Braxton Miller told Pete Thamel he intends to return for his senior season, which is a boost to what could have been a virtually entire new offense.

Upon closer examination, though, right guard Pat Elflein ridded some fears from Meyer and Ed Warinner the past two weeks. A significant player at that position will still leave the program, but Elflein’s emergence essentially means only three new starters will be on the line.

He was so good at Michigan that Linsley described his performance as “unfreakingbelievable.” And that day’s work came literally on zero notice. It was only after Hall’s infamous ejection that Elflein was thurst into the frontlines of a physical shootout. He helped lead the way for Hyde’s 226 yards rushing, the most ever by an Ohio State player against Michigan.

“Pat played really well against a very good defensive line,” Meyer said. “I’m excited about his future at Ohio State. For a redshirt freshman coming into that situation, he actually played, like, really good at times.

“I’m very impressed with him and very comfortable with him.”

That became all the more obvious last Friday afternoon when Meyer revealed he would not start Hall against Michigan State in the biggest game of the season. By halftime, it was apparent Elflein would play the entire game. He wasn’t invisible out there, either. Time and again, Hyde and Miller ran to the right side of the line where Elflein opened up running lanes.

Nation’s best defense be damned, Elflein was not the least bit intimidated. Ohio State rushed for 273 yards and two touchdowns, averaging nearly seven yards per carry. Meyer admitted that Elflein is No. 6 on the line – first after the five starters. His first two extended outings proved that ranking isn’t dubious.

“Pat did a tremendous job,” Mewhort said. “I think that speaks a lot to the way he works during the week and he just prepared to go in there and win the game for us. That’s something he did and he embraced it. He’s not a kid anymore after playing in an environment like that. You kind of grow up a little bit and I think that was a really good learning experience for him. He thrived.”

The pressure-packed situation Elflein was inserted into was just shy of what former Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert experienced in the 2009 national championship game. Elflein credited his teammates with adding a level smoothness to his transition.

Communication is vital on any offensive line, so when a new piece if thrown into the equation messages could become blurred. However, Elflein has dealt with few issues and has yet to be flagged for a false start, making the move almost flawless.

“They all had my back. Those guys are seniors,” Elflein said. “They kind of took me in this whole year knowing I was the next guy in.”

An absence of nerves is another factor. Despite limited game time, preparation in practice led to little semblance of uneasiness. Perhaps Linsley’s confidence in Elflein calmed him down.

“All year I’ve said to him, ‘Man, one day you’re going to be a hell of a player. You’re going to get drafted real high,’” Linsley said. “He’s going to get all these accolades and stuff because he’s a heck of a player.”

Elflein would only say he played “all right.” Chances are Hall will assume his starting spot at the Orange Bowl in what represents his final game at Ohio State. But just like the Michigan game and the Michigan State game that followed, Elflein will be waiting patiently on the sideline.

“I’m always ready” he said. “If my number’s called, I’m ready. If not, I’m still ready.”

23 Comments

Comments

jthiel09's picture

I'm not quite over what happened last Saturday, but as I'm slowly coming out of it .. all of the bright spots ahead are making the transition easier. 
It's crazy to think this season is almost at a close ... but I'll be damned if I'm not going to enjoy the hell out of an Orange Bowl victory over Clemson. And when that game clock hits zero it's on to the next one, the beginning of the 2014 season!

JT

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

Big time impressed with Elflein's development. Of all the assistants we could lose we simply cannot lose Ed Warinner. Hope he can weave the same magic for those 3 new starting positions as he did for our current OL.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

jthiel09's picture

Agreed, Warinner is a must keep. He's done an awesome job with the O-Line. 

JT

TMac's picture

Elflein was simply Awesome!!
Who takes over,  Boren at center,  but how about the tackle & guard spots?

RedStorm45's picture

Dodson/Decker at the two tackles I would guess?  Probably just go off the two-deep for now, meaning guys like Tommy Brown and Darryl Baldwin will be in the mix.

dan_isaacs's picture

Chase Farris will be in there.

Dan Isaacs

RedStorm45's picture

Considering what eventually happened to Gilbert at Texas, I'd go with a Little Animal taking over for Bobby Carpenter comparison.

Kyle Rowland's picture

Both at Michigan, too. Good call.

RedStorm45's picture

Yep, although I guess more was "on the line" for Gilbert in the title game.  Still incredible he got them to within a score.  Perhaps the Bama "dynasty" is never born if McCoy doesn't take that hit.  And perhaps Mack Brown isn't resigning this week.

FailtotheVictors's picture

Look for Evan Lisle to start.  Hes a nasty SOB

- Respect the Rivalry -

IBleedSandG's picture

The right side of the OL looks to be in pretty good hands next season. I think Boren will be fine at C, and I trust Ed to fill in the missing pieces at LG and LT.

"You pick up the rifle and go as hard as you can possibly go."
-UFM

Toilrt Paper's picture

Urban has said Decker will move from right tackle to left tackle next year.

Crimson's picture

I was really happy to see Elflein play well.  I remember hearing that he was first off the bench earlier in the season, but we only saw Boren in when Linsley wasn't at full health.  I'm comfortable with Elflein holding down one of the guard spots next year right now.  Obviously, we're also fine with Decker.  However, I'm not settled with anyone else, Boren included, as of right now.  I hope Warriner sticks around to develop three more starters, but I don't think anyone is ready to start next year besides Elflein and Decker, as of right now.

osu07asu10's picture

I'd like to point out that there was a large part of the 11W community that assailed Fickell for signing a 3-star "MAC level" talent. Didn't have the measurables, wasn't athletic, can't cut it at B1G...the sky is falling, we're all dead!!!

Luckily, Fickell did not listen to the 11w commentary, noting Elflein's wrestling background, athleticism, work ethic, and desire to be a buckeye. 
Nice find Coach Fickell, and great work up until this point Pat!

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

BuckeyeBartT's picture

IMO: Billy Price will be a starting guard. Decker LT, Boren C, Elfein G
The battle for RT will be the interesting one: Baldwin, Dodson or Lisle. Someone will take charge and win it. The line will be a strong by the time big ten play starts... Also they'll have go against a great D line in practice...

GA_bucki's picture

Elflein played well in relief. Pencil him and Decker in for starting slots next year. Can't forget about Antonio Underwood tho. He was the 6th guy in the rotation until he tore an ACL in the spring. If he's healthy he'll add some experience to the mix at the other guard spot.

analyticalguy's picture

2014 O line will not be as good as 2013, but could easily be as good as in 2012, which we all thought was good until we were spoiled by 2013.  Decker, Elflein and probably Boren will be solid.  Price, or possibly Ferris if he returns to offense, should provide the solution at the other guard.  Then, as was mentioned by Buckeyebartt, we need one of Baldwin, Dodson or Lisle to step up at the other tackle.  And then there is Underwood.  If Warinner stays, I'm not all that worried about the unit.  By the end of the non-conference schedule he should have them performing together at a high level.  There's an outside chance that one of the incoming freshman could contribute, but I don't think we need to count on it (fortunately).
Remember where we were at this point two years ago.  We had two linemen (Mewhort, Norwell) or maybe three (with Hall) we had much confidence in, and beyond that it was wide open.  (This year we have Decker, Elflein and maybe Boren).  We had a tight end converting to tackle to compete with a true freshman for right tackle, and no one really at center.  They started the spring horrible as a group, and wound up being the strength of the team by the end of the season.  This year we don't have great depth, but I'm confident that we have at least a couple guys out of the limelight developing under Warinner and Marotti who should be ready to complete effectively in the fall.
 
 

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great job Pat!  It's nice to know we had such talent in the 2 deep OL all year long.  This does ease my concern next year a little bit about the OL.  We are just losing such a great group of guys there that were so good for so long.  I feel pretty confident that the new guys will step up and do a great job.  Hopefully in time they will be as dominant as the current OL.
Go Bucks!!

mtrotb's picture

Baldwin got burned bad at Illinois.

mtrotb

Seattle Linga's picture

The make up next year is still unknown but we'll have some time to gel before the B1G schedule appears.

southernstatesbuckeye's picture

The cupboard is never really bare at Ohio State...in the aftermath of a rare loss, I have been amazed at how the collective Buckeye Nation has handled it.
Classy. 
I, like countless others, expected myself to react worse than I have.  For some, their journey through those five stages of grief may be longer and more painful, but we will all arrive there gracefully individually.  I have yet to hear of any shootings because somebody wasn't upset enough, and even though the East Lansing police are tracking the Code Giver of the infamous Couch Burning Gang hiding out somewhere in that northern state, Ohio is peaceful.  I think we have learned, with this loss, to appreciate...really appreciate...how special this run and this team have been in the big picture of things.  We have witnessed history.  Drink that in.
And then I realized that
1) we are so spoiled by greatness that each rare loss is felt intimately,
2) we are so hated because other fan bases want to feel what it's like to feel that way,
3) we are so exploited by the media because they know when they have a cash cow, and
4) we are so the next generation of college football.
I've never been more proud to be a Buckeye.
 
 

Homey1970's picture

Ref #3 above, wish every Buckeye fan would stop paying attention/tuning in to the bull*@!& on most networks/internet.  If I hear another Mark May reference....really?  I stopped watching that loser years ago...and the entire ESPiN network.  Only tune in to the broadcast and many times mute the announcers.  When are Buckeye fans going to realized they're being played by a media that's in it to sell commercials all while (in the case of ESPiN) promoting its own SEC Network/coverage? 
Disclaimer: This isn't a rant at SothernStateSB's post...just venting.
 

Homey1970's picture

From the video I saw of Price on the OL in HS, he looked like an animal...Munger too.  Would like to see both make the 2-deep next year (at least Price, since Munger is still on the DL and has medical issues).