While Ohio State Looks For Answers on Offensive Line, Ed Warinner Remains a Constant

By Patrick Maks on July 16, 2014 at 1:06p

The tale of how Ohio State’s offensive line went from a group of apathetic slobs to ferocious movers of men is one of Urban Meyer’s favorites to tell. He revels in it.

It starts with how five of them missed Meyer’s first meeting as the Buckeyes’ head coach and subsequently drew his deepest ire. The next few chapters plunge into an improbable and rapid transformation under their position coach, Ed Warinner. It ends with their personal and collective triumphs.

In two years, Meyer’s opinion of his offensive line went from one of utter and sickening contempt to this:

Of course, you know the story. It’s basically folklore around the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. So are the guys who were apart of it.

They were the impetus of a dominant run that saw the Buckeyes go 24-2 over the last two seasons. They were the foundation for the rebirth of a program that fell briefly on hard times.

Even in the shadow of household names like Braxton Miller, Ryan Shazier and Carlos Hyde, they’re the ones who’ve defined Meyer’s young tenure at Ohio State.

But now, he and the Buckeyes now must carry on without them. They’ve got to replace four multi-year starters in Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell — the stage managers who kept their offense's record-breaking show running smoothly. 

“We really gotta go,” Meyer said after a sloppy showing from the unit during the Spring Game in April. “We really gotta go from here.”

You could feel the absence then and you can still feel it now. 

“It’s a big concern,” offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said in March.

Except one thing.

“I’d be a lot more concerned if I didn’t believe that the talent was there and I didn’t believe in Ed Warinner,” Herman said. “This group of O-linemen, whether we like to say it or not, is much farther ahead than the group of O-linemen our first spring. 

"Ed Warinner basically took the weakness of the offense and within 24 months — less than 24 months — turned it into absolutely, hands down, not-even-close the strength and backbone of the offense.”– Tom Herman

“You wanna talk about some dudes who needed some molding and some culture. I mean, Ed Warinner basically took the weakness of the offense and within 24 months — less than 24 months — turned it into absolutely, hands down, not-even-close the strength and backbone of the offense.”

In 2011, Ohio State averaged 25 points (79th best) and 318 total yards (107th best) a game during a feeble, uninspiring 6-7 campaign that'll go down as one of the darker periods in Buckeye lore. Specifically symptomatic of an offensive line come undone was how it gave up 46 sacks (118th best) and 90 tackles for loss (109th best).

Then came Meyer. Then came Warinner.

“You look at just two years ago, Ohio State only had two returning starters (Mewhort and Norwell) on the offensive line. They were inexperienced,” college football guru Phil Steele told Eleven Warriors.

“Yet, they improved their yards per carry, they improved their yards per gain and they allowed less sacks than they did the previous year.”

The renaissance reached its height in 2013 when the Buckeyes averaged 46 points (third best) and 512 yards of total offense (seventh best). The sacks were cut in half compared to 2011 (22) and so were nearly the tackles for loss (56.)

Success didn't happen over night. When it finally did, it didn't rain — it poured.

Now, Warinner and Ohio State are charged with figuring out a way to sustain such momentum. It's non-negotiable. 

“He can mold a young line,” Steele said. “It’s not like he’s dealing with a bunch of walk-ons who have never played football before.”

Instead, Warinner and the Buckeyes have been afforded the luxury of talent at the position thanks to a string of strong recruiting classes. What they’re lacking, of course, is experience. 

Ohio State will sorely miss Mewhort, Linsley, Hall and Norwell. It’ll miss the uncommon bond they shared and how that translated onto the field. That's an inconvenient truth.

“Last I checked, Ed Warinner’s still the offensive line coach.” – Tom Herman

But Warinner and his welding qualities remain a constant. 

“Last I checked,” Herman said, “Ed Warinner’s still the offensive line coach.”

While players shuffle in and out, success on the line still starts and ends with him.

“I think when you take a step back and have some perspective and understand the talent that’s in that room and the guy that’s coaching them, you’re confident in the future,” Herman said.

“You’re discouraged in the present or frustrated at the present, but certain that the future will take care of itself.”

And that Warinner will take care of the future. 


Comments Show All Comments

dubjayfootball90's picture

I am excited for the line this year. Mostly Elflien. Also interested to see how lindsay plays, and Decker should be a manchild on the left side. I still think this line will be pretty damn good.

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

+8 HS
coolhand850's picture

Without Lindsay transferring from Alabama, I do not care how great Warriner is, Miller would have been running for his life. At least, one out of three Boren's was good! Zach was a great, and we sure could have used him in the Middle last year. His toughness and leadership almost make up for how awful Jacoby is, and how mediocre Justin was. Raekwon and Hubbard, IMO, were are most prized recruits of 2014, but getting Lindsay to come in as a grown man, to immediately start at Center was without a doubt our most important addition to the entire roster. I still have a hard time believing Elflein is the best Right Guard we have. I may be wrong, but he looks very average to me, at best. Besides two consecutive awful play calls, running Miller to the short side of the field, on 3rd and 4th down in the MSU game, Meyer not letting Hall play the whole game cost us a chance at a National Championship. No defense was going to keep Hyde from getting a yard given two chances. I am convinced Meyer did not want to win the Michigan State game, because of the damage an extreme embarrassment to FSU would have done to the program in the future. Clemson, a team Florida State literally dismantled, shredded our pathetic back 7 to the tune of 40 points. The sickening thing about giving up 40 to Clemson was all the damage was done by one player ( Sammy Watkins ). They had no running game whatsoever. Good Riddens Withers and your prevent defense, and adios Vrabel for your idiotic philosopy of not always and continually rotating 7 or 8 Defensive Lineman, especially when it was your deepest and most talented unit. With Warriner, Herman, Johnson, and Ash things are looking much better. Now if they would only fire Gene Smith, and a desperate University would take Fickell off our hands, I would be ecstatic. I guess you can't have it all. We could be stuck with Hokey Pokey, Lane Kiffin, or God help us, Charlie Weiss!!! In Urban I trust!!! Most of the time! LOL

-11 HS
dwcbuckeye's picture

Burried in your very long paragraph was this:

I am convinced Meyer did not want to win the Michigan State game, because of the damage an extreme embarrassment to FSU would have done to the program in the future

I can't agree with this.  Hope you were being sarcastic

+14 HS
nfischer's picture

I think you forgot to italicize the entire paragraph.

+11 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

You thought Elflein was bad??  Did you watch him in the scUM game?  He was a beast, we didn't lose a thing with the suspension of Hall.  I think HE SHOULD be listed at the 1st team slot going into camp.

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

+3 HS

Ive said this several times, Warinner is the assistant OSU CANNOT lose. If Herman leaves it will sting but not as much as losing Ed. I hope he sticks around for a good long while.

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

+21 HS
Hovenaut's picture

I think the program is blessed when it comes to all the assistants, but Ed Warriner's efforts in keeping the trenches aptly manned have been vital.

Countering the downer.

+8 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

I have to agree, in a scenario where Herman took a head coaching position somewhere else, Coach Warriner could keep the offense chugging right along. But if Warriner took a job elsewhere, it's very likely that the Oline play would suffer. Good offensive line coaches are not easy to find, and great ones are rare. We are quite fortunate to have a great one!

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” ~Carl Rogers

+3 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

Preach on!!  If we ever were to lose Warinner, I hope we get a prodigy of his to step in.  He is the most valuable assistant on this team, in my honest opinion.

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

+1 HS
Boxley's picture

There's that word again, we will be hearing it a lot this year. Experience. THe O-line has lost 80% of it experienced group and cannot possibly be as good as last year. this is my biggest concern this year if we cannot sustain the O on the field we will be in trouble..

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

+1 HS
CC's picture

Boxley  - There are plenty of examples to prove that train of thought wrong.

Tennessee never would have imagined getting better wheren Manning left...

whiskeyjuice's picture

Remember the offensive line in 2011 and how that season fared?

Remember the offensive line in 2012 and how that season fared? (we were undefeated in case you forgot)

Remember all the yards and points scored last year?

That's why Herman is confident ED W. WILL GET THE O-LINE READY. 

"Championships are not won on Saturdays in November. Championships are won on Tuesdays in August." -- Kerry Combs

Nick_Satan's picture

Man we are so lucky to have Coach Warinner. I wish he would get more national respect. But thats fine with me keep him off everyones elses radar. But after the brutal years of the walrus coaching the offensive line it was one of the best changes meyer made when he arrived.

+5 HS
MikeTheBuckeye's picture

When you put it like that it really puts it into perspective for how far we've come. Can you imagine going back to the Jim Bolman age where the 2 deep was the same names as the starters, just jumbled up a little? Ed Warriner has done a magnificent job coaching up and developing players. Could you name a player coached by Jim Bolman that graduated more complete at his position than he arrived? Not only is Urban a fantastic coach, he surrounded himself with many assistants that are the best in the business. I can't wait to see where these coaches take us year in year out.

+1 HS
Ball-Z-Buck's picture

I hope we can somehow keep him at OSU but it sounds like he is head coach material and soon.

+3 HS
WesPatterson23's picture

Those guys weren't only great players, but seemed to have great characters. I met Andrew Norwell at Cedar point yesterday, and he seemed like a very nice guy. I'm still very excited to see what the O-Line will do next year, especially with all the potential and great coaching like mentioned in the article.

+1 HS
BroJim's picture

All of Herman's quotes sound like they are coming from a head coach. It's great that he is still around. 

I season my simple food with hunger

+2 HS
Horvath22's picture

Watch out for Joel Hale under Warriner.

+1 HS

In essence, Warinner only needs to come up with 2 starters with Decker, Elflein and the addition of Chad Lindsay all having experience. Having both our TEs back will help alleviate any growing pains for the new group.

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

+1 HS
CC's picture

I watched the end of the Iron Bowl today, there was a great shot of a stunned Chad Lindsay walking off the field.

+1 HS
808buckeye's picture

I hate seeing that 2 after the 24.. Sickening

seize the carpe

+3 HS
CC's picture

I'm honestly not that worried about the O-Line.  We have basically 3 guys who have real game time coming back (or coming in with Lindsay) and we only need to fill 2 other holes with several talented players.  As mentioned above, having Warriner makes it feel like it's not that big of a deal.

-1 HS
apack614's picture

I believe that he did great things with our O-Line last year and I believe they were good, but how good do you guys think they were because I wonder if it was a little more of our machine for a running back Carlos Hyde making them look a little better than they were. Idk though that was just a thought

I can't wait to poop in the PL bathroom.

+1 HS
rock flag and eagle's picture

I agree.  Defenses had to account for Hyde and Miller on virtually all run plays.  That's the problem option offenses present to defenses.  In terms of yards/carry, Army has finished in the top 14 in the country for the last three years in a row.  Army, a team with no elite athletes, consistently ranks amongst the best rushing attacks in the country.  A well organized option scheme has a way of making linemen and o-line coaching look good.

+1 HS
tussey's picture

Apack, I think it goes both ways.  Some of the holes that the line opened up, anyone could have gotten 5 yards

+2 HS
whiskeyjuice's picture

The defense will have to be more concerned with OSU's wideouts this year because of the players we will be utilizing this year. It has been awhile since OSU had receivers that could break tackles or "juke out" defenders for big gains. We will have that kind of threat this year.

"Championships are not won on Saturdays in November. Championships are won on Tuesdays in August." -- Kerry Combs

-1 HS
ibuck's picture

Hope you're right about the wideouts, Whiskey. Still, the ball has to be delivered, caught and hung onto first. OSU really needs to get better at all of this.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

Toilrt Paper's picture

There were A LOT of huge holes for Hyde. He was great because he often had 4 yards past the line of scrimmage of steam built up before touched.

+1 HS
BuckeyeWags's picture

Ed Warinner is one of the two or three very best in the world at what he does. He is indeed the single most indispensable cog in our coaching machine. His units are always coached up positionally, motivated, and well coordinated with the rest of the offense.

+1 HS
741's picture

I think he'd be in the NFL making considerably more money if he was one of the two or three best in the world - let's not be ridiculous.

NuttyBuckeye's picture

I don't think a coach like Warinner could get pro athletes to bust their asses the way he can motivate college men to.  The college players want to get to the NFL and they work hard to do it... Yes, they also want a shot at a national title, too, I believe.

I just feel many pro football players do not want to put in the extra effort and pain to achieve greatness.

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

+1 HS
741's picture

Yeah, the top 1% of all college football players who get drafted and become NFL starters just don't care about putting forth the extraordinary amount of work it takes to achieve peak performance, or doing whatever it takes to beat out an endless stream of new competitors so they can continue to earn millions of dollars per year.

NuttyBuckeye's picture

Actually, I was referring to winning the Super Bowl....

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

chemicalwaste's picture

I think if the same things happen this year, the "Give Ed Warinner a raise every year just to keep him around and keep him happy" campaign should get started. Hell, let's start it now.

+6 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

Ed should be the first assistant coach to make $1 million per year.  He's that good.

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

Crimson's picture

As phrased, there are others.  Just not at Ohio State.

+2 HS
Oldschoolbuck's picture

Consider this: We have, arguably, the top 2 "trench warfare" coaches in the nation - Ed Warinner & Larry Johnson. If championships are won up front with "the big uglies" (thank you, Keith Jackson!), we should all be really, really, really excited!

+6 HS

Anyone know if the freshman have reported yet?

"I don't apologize for anything.  When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

-1 HS
ScarletNGrey01's picture

I was at the Ohio Union yesterday for the first time in many years, wow, is it awesome, like a buckeye cathedral, got me fired up!  It's great to be a buckeye and have the best coaching staff in the country with back-to-back and upcoming to-back top five recruiting classes.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Tater_Schroeder's picture

Ed Warinner and Larry Johnson coaching the trenches? I wouldn't have it any other way.

When people say football is a game of inches, those inches are between the two lines. When you can own those inches, you can own the game. I'm looking forward to seeing both the O-Line and D-Line dominate this fall!


+5 HS
Knarcisi's picture

My gosh, how far we've come so quickly since Bollman destroyed our OL. 

+2 HS
sivaDavis's picture

Sorry if these have been posted elsewhere. I just remember seeing these and thinking, "Man, we are so damn lucky to have this guy."

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

+2 HS
Shangheyed's picture

Warner will earn his paycheck this year, I have faith he will coach up the players... the bar has been raised and the OL will be ready!

whiskeyjuice's picture

"Championships are not won on Saturdays in November. Championships are won on Tuesdays in August." -- Kerry Combs

-2 HS
Mean Mr Mustard's picture

Kardashians.  Really?  I am trying to eat my breakfast.

+1 HS
whiskeyjuice's picture

I don't recognize the people in the gif. I only picked it because of the sentence that it came with. I liked and agreed with the previous comment and wanted to throw in an "amen".

I take it you watch (or have watched) the Kardashians. I have heard that show is horrible for several reasons, which is why I never bothered to watch it and is also the reason I do not recognize these Kardashians. I have no interest in the show and judging by your reply I suppose I should apologize for posting a face that you recognize from a show (again you apparently have watched it at sometime) that must have started a chain reaction that caused you to be reminded of a bad episode or something. So I apologize.

"Championships are not won on Saturdays in November. Championships are won on Tuesdays in August." -- Kerry Combs

-1 HS
AJBor41's picture

It may have been mentioned before, but what Warinner has done in transforming our O-Line has been incredibly impressive. However, though I see the comparison, we're not needing the same miracle that he performed in 2012. Outside of incoming freshmen and Lindsay, these kids have all been coached by Warinner for multiple off-seasons now. In my opinion, it's a next man up scenario for these guys and I'm excited to see who earns the starting roles and what we're saying at this time next year about them.

Scipio's picture

As an aside, Coach Warriner was a helluva football player at Mount in his day. Tough as nails and a fierce competitor. No surprise he exhibits the same qualities as a leader of men. 

GVerrilli92's picture

I think the most telling stat in Warriner's career is the "percentage line fail per play." And yes, I just made that up. What I mean is the amount of blown assignments per play along the line.

Seriously though, when did you ever hear of a blown assignment on the line being called out by a commentator during the games? There were some missed blocks, obviously (dammit Heurman). But as far as blown assignments, they were few and far between. I honestly think there might have been entire games last season where the OLine didn't confuse their assignment once. That's not physical talent, that's just good ass coaching.

It's also reassuring for this coming line.

I got a gray kitty, white kitty, tabby too, and a little orange guy who puts snakes in my shoes. Got mad MC skills, that leave ya struck, and I roll with my kitties and I'm hard as f*ck.