2014 Season Preview: Ohio State's Offensive Line

By Johnny Ginter on August 12, 2014 at 10:45a
Ohio State will start the season with four fresh faces on the offensive line.

Kirk Irwin Photography

46 Comments
Eleven Warriors' 2014 Ohio State Football Season Preview

Ten thousand years ago, in 2004, Ohio State was suffering through a middling season. There was a lot of blame to go around, but one area of particular complaint that would last until the end of the Jim Bollman Era was the constant underachievement of the offensive line. Superstar recruits like Alex Boone and Mike Adams never lived up to expectations, and success stories like Mike Brewster were far too few.

Then a mysterious man on a pale push sled rode into town. A man with the drive, and the know-how, and above all, the basic coaching skills to turn very good offensive line prospects into very good offensive line players.

Enter Ed Warinner.

The Offensive Line in 2013

Last season's offensive line had one of the best seasons that any of Ohio State's offensive line units have had since the 1990s. Buoyed by several starters with years of experience, including Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley, and Marcus "Birdman" Hall, the offensive line was able to open holes for Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde all season long. The Buckeye rushing attack amassed over 308 yards per game, good for fifth in the nation, and Hyde, Miller, and company ended up averaging 6.8 yards per carry, easily best in the nation.

At the heart of the unit was captain and left tackle Jack Mewhort. Mewhort was a rock last season, turning in outstanding performances in almost every game he played, and he was rewarded with a second round draft selection by the Colts. He was the clear leader and mentor to a group of players who weren't nearly as highly regarded as in years past, but was able to outperform them all.

And Ed Warinner was the driving force behind it all. Norwell, Linsley, Hall, and Mewhort are all gone, which is sad. But the coach that helped them to greatness remains.

Asked whether he was confident that the starters would be ready for the opener, Warinner didn’t hesitate.

“Oh, for sure,” he said. “Absolutely. Just making sure it’s the right ones. I’m confident we’ll be where we need to be Aug. 30, and then continue to develop.”

I guess I'm just sad that I don't get to make Hall-flipping-off-entire-stadiums-in-a-moment-of-beautiful-rage jokes anymore.

The Starters

So who's left? Well, we'd be remiss if forgot about Taylor Decker. The lone remaining starter from last season is back, and he's moving over to left tackle from the right side to step into Mewhort's really, really big shoes. That'd be alarming, but on the other hand, Decker is six foot seven and utterly terrifying so there won't likely be as much drop off as people might expect.

The only other position that we can be reasonably sure about is right guard. Sophomore Pat Elflein did a great job after being thrust into the spotlight last season, but it's important to note that he's not as green as you might think; this is his third year with the program, and he should be more than capable of clearing out d-lineman, linebackers, and various defensive debris in front of any of the fifty billion running backs that OSU might decide to have play.

Ohio State Offensive Line Depth
No. Name HT WT YR Hometown
76 BALDWIN, DARRYL 6-6 307 SR Solon, OH
50 BOREN, JACOBY 6-1 285 JR Pickerington, OH
68 DECKER, TAYLOR 6-7 315 JR Vandalia, OH
66 DODSON, KYLE 6-6 310 SO Cleveland, OH
65 ELFLEIN, PAT 6-3 300 SO Pickerington, OH
57 FARRIS, CHASE 6-4 300 JR Elyria, OH
61 GASKEY, LOGAN 6-4 295 SO Long Grove, IL
51 HALE, JOEL 6-4 310 SR Greenwood, IN
64 JONES, MARCELYS 6-4 345 FR Cleveland, OH
74 JONES, JAMARCO 6-4 306 FR Chicago, IL
78 KNOX, DEMETRIUS 6-3 302 FR Fort Worth, TX
56 LINDSAY, CHAD 6-2 302 SR The Woodlands, TX
75 LISLE, EVAN 6-6 300 FR Centerville, OH
54 PRICE, BILLY 6-4 305 FR Austintown, OH
69 PRUNI, MICHEIL 6-2 315 FR Dover, OH
73 TAYLOR, BRADY 6-5 293 FR Columbus, OH
71 TROUT, KYLE 6-6 300 FR Lancaster, OH
73 UNDERWOOD, ANTONIO 6-3 303 JR Shaker Heights, OH

The Backups

Here's where things get a little dicey; the other three spots on the offensive line are in big time flux, and even the next few weeks may not determine the ultimate fate of who ends up starting for the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes.

Of the remaining spots, right tackle is likely the most "determined" so far. Senior Darryl Baldwin looks like he has the inside track on the starting job, but he'll be pushed throughout camp by some younger players like Chase Farris. Look for him to win the job, especially given his seniority, but if he struggles in games early he could be given the hook.

The battle for the center position should be really interesting. Junior Jacoby Boren is, well, a Boren, and given his experience he probably has the edge on Alabama transfer Chad Lindsay. Most people will probably be rooting for Boren here because of his brothers, but as a semi-serious sportswriter I cannot deny the gigantic appeal of a storyline involving Lindsay getting some kind of revenge on Nick Saban for keeping him on the bench for years.

Left guard right now is like looking at an M.C. Escher painting upside down and backwards. Junior Antonio Underwood, redshirt frosh Billy Price, and senior Joel Hale... wait, what?

"Joel hadn't played a lot on offense before moving over. He's really starting to get comfortable there," Warinner said. "I like his demeanor, his energy and how he attacks things."

Look, I had Hale tabbed as a d-lineman all the way when he came to OSU. But athletic guys move around all the time, and Underwood, Price, and Hale all have a decent shot at getting the starting job. Like Baldwin, any or (hopefully not) all of these guys could get canned if they don't gel quickly. Warinner is an excellent coach and has some great talent to work with, but time is short.

Overview

The 2014 Ohio State offensive line isn't going to be as good at the 2013 version. They've lost too much experience and cohesion to repeat their performance from last year, but to be fair, that might've been a once in a decade group.

With that said, I think that there are the makings of that kind of group present. It's just going to require Warinner to draw that out of guys like Baldwin and Elflein while encouraging Taylor Decker to be the kind of leader that Mewhort was last season. The overall inexperience of the line will likely require Urban and company to be far more vanilla than they'd like to be for at least the first few games, but if they can find a solid starting five, in the second half of the season this could develop into a very dangerous group.

“Offensive line is the one (area) that we gotta really go. We gotta really go from here,” Meyer said after the Spring Game Saturday. “That’s an area that we have got to get back where … maybe not where we were (last year), but close.”

And he's right. For all the flash that Ohio State has at the skill positions, it's the offensive line that makes this train roll.

ETC.

  • Other players to look out for include Evan Lisle, Demetrius Knox, Kyle Trout, Jamarco Jones, and Marcelys Jones
  • Taylor Decker is a zoology major and interned with the Columbus Zoo recently
  • Baldwin, Decker, and Boren are all really smart dudes who routinely appear on Scholar-Athlete rolls and honors
  • This is Chad Linsday's only year of eligibility with OSU, and he's already got his degree in Communications from Alabama
  • It's kind of crazy how many of these dudes have bounced around from offense to defense and back again. That could be a plus or a minus, depending on how you look at it
46 Comments

Comments

osu78's picture

and here I though Hall was just predicting TTUN would have to go for two to win. Learn something new every day I guess. 

+7 HS
Urbz4President's picture

As I've been saying since the Spring Game (which I was literally falling asleep during a couple of times), the OL unit is going to make or break us. I have enough faith in our D-Line, Linebackers and Chris Ash that I think our defense will be very sound. Maybe not top 5, but definitely championship worthy. I liken our offensive skill players to a box of ammunition. Completely harmless unless loaded into a weapon (O Line).

With all of that being said, 18 more days!! Hopefully I'll be able to get some sleep between now and then.

+2 HS
dcbucks's picture

It's really awesome to see Pat Elflein break into the starting line-up. I have a special place in my heart for the Buckeyes who committed under Luke Fickell. Those players really had no idea what the future would hold, but wanted to be Buckeyes regardless. Best of luck to you Pat.

+12 HS
d5k's picture

Who are the other guys still here that committed pre-Urban and post-Tressel in the 2012 class?  I am aware of Elflein and Tyvis Powell for sure.  Are there any others that are still with the program?

zenshade's picture

Mike Thomas and Adolphus Washington are two more. If memory serves me there at least 10-12 that remained committed (and Urban honored).

These are special players that will be remembered.

Kyle Kalis will not be.

+1 HS
tussey's picture

I dunno, I feel like Kyle Kalis will be remembered....

For his there will be blood comment

d5k's picture

Adolphus committed somewhat awkwardly* as the news of Urban's hiring was propagating through the blogosphere.  But yea, technically before it was final.

*Only in that he said he really hopes Urban is the coach when Fickell was still interim HC.

apack614's picture

Wow, that's a lot of smart guys on the O-Line! It is awesome to see guys that excel off the field just as well as they do on the field! Reminds me of good ole Krenzel

"If we worked half as hard as our band, we'd be champions." - Woody Hayes

BTBuckeye's picture

I know some Bama fans that thought Chad Lindsay was better then the center that started last year for the Tide. Who knows...let the best man step up. It's nice that he has some experience though.

+2 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

I like Lindsay, he is a good player and a huge dude, but with his baby face he looks like he is 13.

TUNBUCK89's picture

And we need a dude with a stare like the one on McMillan's face to scare the shit out of the opposing NT !!!

Mortc15's picture

I think what's holding lindsay back is his inexperience in this type of offense. He may or may not be the better player at center but he's behind in knowing the offense and blocking schemes associated with Meyers offense. Hopefully he picks it up quickly enough to allow the talent to take over and push for the starting spot, whether or not he wins it. 

Buck-I4Life

Young_Turk's picture

ESPN has recently played the best games from last year.  The Alabama-Auburn game was #1.  I watched that last week and Lindsey had a bad game.  Poor snaps, missed blocks, getting driven back by the D-line.  I hope it was an aberration, and I'm grateful he joined us, but I'm hoping Boren makes it an easy decision.  Plus I'd  like to see him stomping over some Wolverine (hello Frank Clark) he just pancaked.

-1 HS
BTBuckeye's picture

Also, does Decker shower with an Elephant Brush? 6'7'' 315lbs........

+1 HS
Barnsey69's picture

Besides the Punter, OL is the most important position on the field.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

Mortc15's picture

Can't tell if serious or missing italics..? 

Buck-I4Life

Barnsey69's picture

Awesome!

They should do messing with sasquatch ad with Steve Austin.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

+1 HS
TURD_BUCKET's picture

Harvey Yeary, Eastern Kentucky University, class of 1962.

Go Colonels!!!

“Being average means you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.”

305Buck's picture

I think the offensive line that sets us up best for success is LT- Decker LG- Price C- Lindsay RG- Elflein RT- Baldwin

+3 HS
seafus26's picture

I'd add, Marioti has had a hand in this transition. He made our OL, like most prominent programs had already figured out, have to be athletes. The candidates that have been here a couple years, have the advantage of having another year, under Coach Mick. Go Bucks!

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

+1 HS
okiebuck's picture

We are young but talented; only three seniors in the OL meeting room, coach em up Mr.Ed!

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

NuttyBuckeye's picture

I have NO DOUBT that Coach Warinner and Mick will have these O-linemen ready for the season.  They have showed nothing but improvement year to year.  Are we young? Yes.  Are we inexperienced? Oh yeah.  But - will they be ready for the first game?  Hell yes.

I love Billy Price, he just LOOKS like a football player, same with Joel Hale.  They are muscular, chisled men that play OFFENSIVE LINE... Seriously??  Most O-linemen do NOT look like that...  They look a little chubby, not like shaved apes.

Marc Pocock (a.k.a NuttyBuckeye)

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

+1 HS
texbuck's picture

It's so beautiful seeing that long list of offensive linemen on the depth chart, most of whom are on scholarship and actually viable options.  It seems like there were times during the Tressel/Bollman era where the list would have been barely half that long.

jono0398's picture

It's also beautiful to see 13 of the 18 listed are in-state kids.  Keep the talent in Ohio, and supplement it with studs from elsewhere.

+1 HS
timhbomb's picture

"This is Chad Linsday's only year of eligibility with OSU, and he's already got his degree in Communications from Alabama "

So how many classes does he have to take to be on par with a B1G degree?

+4 HS
whobdis's picture

And to think Bollman had no interest in offereing Decker. It used to drive me nuts how thin we were. We may have 8 guys and he'd say that was plenty.

AndyVance's picture

And to think Bollman had no interest in offereing Decker. It used to drive me nuts how thin we were. We may have 8 guys and he'd say that was plenty.

Now to add insult to injury: just imagine if we'd had the caliber of offensive line coaching we have now when we faced Meyer's hated Gator squad for the debacle in the dessert... How might things have turned it differently if Troy Smith hadn't been eating turf all night... *shudders*

Shangheyed's picture

8 Frosh and 3 Sophmores.... its indeed a young group.  That clearly shows the recruiting gap that as been made up in the last two years.  In addition to being a great coach, Warinner has done some fine recuiting as well.

HotSauceCommittee's picture

It is great knowing that these kids will have several more years in the program. Hopefully at least a few more under Coach Warinner.

+1 HS
Shangheyed's picture

I am excited too... looks like a strong future at OL... the gap in recruiting is even more telling if you look at Baldwin, Hale and Lindsay three seniors who were not even recuited by the Walrus... Warinner had to clean up someone else's mess!

teddyballgame's picture

I think Warriner said that Knox and Jones are the two freshman who look the most "ready" to possibly contribute this season.

BeatTTUN's picture

Games are going to be a welcome vacation after what the O-Line has to deal with every day in practice.

The overall depth of the O-Line is something we haven't seen in years. Competition breeds success, whoever rises to the top as a starter will be legit.

And we can all give ourselves a personal high five that Bollman is no longer teaching the O-Line how to be matadors.

Ed Warriner makes me sleep well at night.

Go Buckeyes Beat Michigan

TUNBUCK89's picture

I really hate to say it, but Bollman is having the last lough so far. Hopefully, that will change this season when we whip MSU.

AndyVance's picture

The 2014 Ohio State offensive line isn't going to be as good at the 2013 version. They've lost too much experience and cohesion to repeat their performance from last year, but to be fair, that might've been a once in a decade group.

While I agree with the general sentiment, how were we talking about the O-Line this time last year? Were we thinking they were "once-in-a-decade" good? I think there is enough experience in the program and the superior coaching of Warriner and conditioning from Body by Marotti will have this unit ready to lay the wood.

-1 HS
buckguyfan1's picture

This group is young and lacks starting experience. They do however show competitive urgency and passion  to gain playing time.  I also see the type of character in this group that we all want for our team. I was worried about this unit last winter, now I am thinking this group could be super fun to watch. 

Release the hounds. 

Balkestud's picture

Jamarco has the feet to play Left Tackle right now IMO. I just don't know if he has the strength or knowledge of the offense. I hope Warriner is giving him enough reps against Bosa as that would be the perfect litmus test to see if he can hold up. Make no mistake, Jamarco is the future at the position and I was hoping it would be sooner rather than later. To me our best lineup would be Jones LT, Price LG, Boren or Lindsay C, Elflein RG and Decker RT. Work Meechy in at LG some to get him experience. Why move a guy (Decker) who can be dominate to another position where his feet may not allow him to be as effective?

It gets kind of rough in the back of my limousine,

 

 

NitroBuck's picture

We all need to keep in mind how unusual it is for a true Freshman to start anywhere on the O-line, let alone at the LT spot. Especially right out of the gate.  Quite simply, there is an awful lot to learn, and not every 18 year old is physically mature enough to handle it.  In a lot of programs, Freshman O-line guys are summarily red shirted to get them built up to handle the job (see Nebraska under Tom Osborne).  On the flip side, I recall being blown away that Korey Stringer was not moved from RT to LT when that spot opened up.  Instead, the LT spot went to an incoming Fr named Orlando, and I remember thinking:  man, this kid must really be something to beat out Stringer for the spot.  I hope you are right about Jamarco, and may he remind us all of Orlando Pace.

Ferio.  Tego.

+1 HS
Knarcisi's picture

What's happened with Dodson that he's not even competing for a position or even being mentioned in year 3?

+1 HS
mtrotb's picture

I agree.  Looks like he is a wash out.

mtrotb

-1 HS
Knarcisi's picture

I'm not ready to go there yet, but no mention of him at all. 

ToetotheFace's picture

I've heard from a lot of Bama fans that Lindsay was actually the better Center on that line. Run game(ypc) apparently improved while he was starting, he is a hardnosed strong blocker, and he knew the Bama offense well so hopefully that means he is good at picking up playbooks. I've heard Bama was thinking about moving their starting C over and having Lindsay start, it shouldn't be made out as if he had to leave because he couldn't play there. I hope he learns the playbook quickly, I'm rooting for him to start.

Groveport Heisman's picture

He had to leave or he couldnt play period. They grant an extra year of eligibility to transfers who have graduated if they pursue classes at a school their current school doesnt have. I could be wrong but I was entirely under the impression that Lindsay is one of these type of transfers. The biggest asset he might be too us is telling us *ichigans blocking schemes and playbook. He had a couple years under Ichigan's current OC Nuss and should know every assignment very well along the whole line since he was a center there. Teams in the NFL are notorious for signing FA's from division rivals they have no plans on playing anywhere but special teams just because they want the inside knowledge on scheme,habits,and the playbook itself. Even if he doesnt start he is a valuable asset for depth and reasons I mentioned above. And if our guys can beat out a guy that started like 5 games on Bama's line last year and is a 5th year senior I will feel pretty confident we are not going to drop off much at all. Our line was legendary last year no doubt but I feel if we get the right 5 starting and gelling from the beginning we can improve enough week to week to maybe surpass at the end when it matters most. By the time the *ichigan st game(week 9) rolls around I think we will be a pretty damn dangerous offense. We have the play makers and change to quick passing game to mask things for a few weeks. We will eventually need to pound the rock like last year on short yardage if we want to get to the promise land.

Mark my words..I don't need acceptance. I'm catching interceptions on you innocent pedestrians.

-1 HS
mtrotb's picture

Wrong he did not have to leave.  He redshirted, then lettered three years and since he graduated he was able to come here, but he could have stayed at Bama for his 5th year if Saban wanted him.

mtrotb

+1 HS
Mean Mr Mustard's picture

I think Saban would have been more than happy to keep Lindsay, but the guy probably has aspirations of playing in the NFL

+1 HS
TURD_BUCKET's picture

I'm hoping that going against that D-line in practice pays big dividends. The O-line will not face a tougher opponent than they do in practice every day. Coach Warinner has done a great job so far and lets pray he keeps the group moving forward. Drive, drive on down the field!!!

“Being average means you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.”