TL;DR: Not Nearly as Bad as Chicken Little seems to think.
To hear it in the comments, and in the forums here since the end of the Buffalo game, you might think Talyor Decker (Right Tackle) was the worst lineman to suit up since the glorious 1897 campaign, where the Good Guys went 1-7-1. I didn't think he played well myself, but the idea that he was going to sink the entire O-Line didn't jib with what I saw when I watched the game, either. Then again, maybe all these guys who joined the site in the past couple of months and complained the loudest were just way smarter or more observant than I am. (It's well established I'm not very bright.)
As they say, though, the Eye in the Sky Never Lies. If you want to know what really happened, you have to watch the video tape- otherwise, all you'll remember is going to be the evidence that proves your predetermined point- and we call that confirmation bias, not actual evidence. So, to see if I was nuts or not, I went back and watched the video tape, concentrating on Decker's play, and trying to keep an eye on Khalil Mack, since he seemed to pick on Decker. I made some notes, which I'll post now:
Down and Distance Play Notes
1st and 10 Run Middle Drives back linebacker
2nd and 5 Run Middle Same
1st and 10 Run Middle Stalemate linebacker
2nd and 8 Pass Single blocks rush end
1st and 10 Sweep Left Stalemates End (Pass Fake?)
1st and 10 Miller Keeper Dammit, ESPN.
2nd and 9 Pass Awesome DT with guard against DE
1st and 10 Receiver Screen R Dammit, ESPN.
1 and Goal Pass Chips DB blitzer, but doesn't hold
1st and 10 Pass Blocks rusher (95) 4 sec.
1st and 18 Pass Blocks rusher (95) 3 sec (to pass)
2nd and 16 Option Left Releases upfield off camera
3rd and 7 Pass Moves to block Mack, then helps G
1st and 10 QB Scramble Blocks Mack 3 sec, Mack releases
1st and 10 Rush left Picks up Mack, forces back before release
2nd and 4 Rush middle Cross body blocks Mack out of play
1st and 10 Pass Locks down DT
2nd and 10 Run Left Blocks DT
1st and 10 Pass Driven back by Mack, sack given up (Overload)
2nd and 14 Pass Blocks Mack long enough for Miller throw
3rd and 5 Pass Locks down wide DT (93) G blows up.
1st and 10 Pass Stops wide DT, blocks inside
2nd and 10 Run Power Left Drives 95 back 5 yards
3rd and 4 Pass Locks down 95
4th and 1 Run Crashes down. Heuerman misses block.
1st and 10 Sweep Left Locks down 92
1st and 10 Run Left Holds off 95
2nd and 10 Pass Locks up rusher his side, Miller rolls away.
3rd and 1 Pass Dammit, ESPN
1st and 10 Run Locks up 95 so Miller can run around him
2nd and 13 Pass Tries to cut 92 (Backside of play
1st and 10 Rush Left Stalemates DT
1st and 10 Rush Crashes down, DT caught against him.
2nd and 12 Pass Locks down 95 for six (6!) seconds
3rd and 12 Pass Just whiffs on Mack, sack
1st and 10 Pass Locks up MLB, pushes off play
1st and 10 Pass Has trouble with blitzing CB
2nd and 10 Pass Locks down 92 whole play
2nd and 20 Pass/Scramble Blocks 92 until Miller runs past
1st and 10 Rush right Stands up, but doesn't move, OLB 34
2nd and 11 WR Screen Walls off to center, no one there
3rd and 6 Pass Asks for help, doesn't get any, gives up sack to 43 but recovers fumble
1st and 10 Rush Left Would you like syrup with that?
2nd and 5 Rush Right Gets a good shove on DB 30
1st and 10 Read Option Chips 95, Miller totally misreads
2nd and 12 Rush Not a super-effective block on LB
3rd and 8 Pass No one his side, delayed far CB blitz
1st and 10 Read Option Misses Mack (?).
2nd and 13 Rush Right Puts MLB on the ground
3rd and 1 Rush Right Stalemates MLB.
1st and 10 Swing Pass Left Stalemates man
2nd and 9 Read Option Left Blocks Nose Guard, moves to 2nd level
1st and 10 Rush up middle Gets hands on Mack out of play
2nd and 7 Midline Option Cross body blocks 34 out of play
3rd and 1 Rush Left Locks down Mack
1st and 10 Rush Stalemates OLB 34, who then releases
2nd and 8 Pass Locks down rushing DE
1st and 10 Rush Left Dives into general pile (GL)
2nd and 9 Sweep Right Locks up DT, but gets pushed back
3rd and 8 Scramble Locks down blitzing OLB until Miller goes
1st and 10 Pass Locks down DE 95 for 5 secs (throw)
1st and 10 Read Option Misread by Miller
2nd and 13 Pass Holds down 95, gets pushed back to Miller
3rd and 13 Pass/Scramble Locks down DE, doubles with back
1st and 10 Sweep right Chips 95, goes to 2nd level hands on MLB
2nd and 7 Rush Left Stalemates 95 at line
3rd and 5 Pass Blocks 95 for seven secs (throw)
1st and 10 Rush Left Stalemates DT at line
2nd and 7 Rush right Doubles with G on 95, then gets off to block Mack
1st and 10 Rush Left Same as above, really
2nd and 8 Rush Left Gets up to double team MLB
3rd and 2 Pass/ Scramble Locks down 34 for entire running around.
So, references to a guard or G is usually Marcus Hall. (I took notes in Word, and tried to keep it all on one line there.) Not everything is perfect- I tried to keep track of which number on Buffalo Decker engaged with, unless it was Mack. That said, he went against 93 and 95 alot, so those can get mixed up, and sometimes you can't see the numbers. Also, I had to work from ESPN's broadcast. I don't have access to the Alll 22 or Goaline film, and sometimes that means Decker moved out of the shot, or ESPN cut into the play too late, and I don't have perfect data as a result. I also didn't overanalyze what play we ran- compare this to the charting charts that the others are going to produce to figure that out.
Line breaks separate drives, and down and distance I pulled off the ESPN play by play chart.
So, what can we learn from this?
1. Decker is going to be pretty solid if he keeps playing like this. He clearly outclassed everyone on the field that wasn't going to get drafted in April. He held his blocks in pass blocking quite well, and did well when he had to out and run block, too, particularly in the early going.
2. That said, he had trouble with a couple of things- picking up the one corner blitz they ran at him. (Not surprising, that's the point) and blocking Mack. He and Mack went about 50/50 one on one, with Decker usually winning on runs and Mack usually winning when he blitzed.
3. You know who could block Mack on the OSU line? No one, that's who. He made Mewhort look silly, and I'm not going to get upset with a soph for not being able to handle a guy that the senior captain couldn't really block, either. I hope Mack gets to play for my team on Sunday, he's clearly going to be good enough for the next level, and Buffalo should have just sent him every down.
4. The strength of this line is clearly on the run- when the chips are down, I'd expect us to run the ball behind Mewhort/Norwell and get a lot of success. Decker can fit well into that role, and he and Hall can lock down the backside of the line well. We should be able to run behind Decker in the right matchups, but if you have two seniors on the other side of the line, why not run behind them all day?
5. Other than Mack, Decker pass blocked very well- he held almost every block to the throw, rarely got pushed into the pocket, and held on for well more than the 3 seconds that's considered "Good enough." Guys really only got off of him once Miller ran past the line on scrambles.
6. There is no observation 6.
7. Based on one game against a potential MAC champion, if Decker's the worst player on our line, that's pretty good, and I'll take it.
NB: I probably made some small mistakes in my chart. If you want to point them out, I guess I don't care, but don't be all bichy about it.