Urban Meyer: Offensive Line is No. 1 Concern

By Kyle Rowland on July 28, 2014 at 1:49p
39 Comments

CHICAGO – A speed bump.

That’s how Urban Meyer describes what Ohio State experienced to end the 2013 season.

One loss ended national championship hopes, the other caused more skepticism toward the Buckeyes. "Are they really as good as their record indicates?" pundits asked.

It took Ohio State years to build its reputation back up after losing to Florida and LSU. Meyer doesn’t believe it’s all broken down, but the importance of the 2014 season is not lost. The Buckeyes lost major pieces on both sides of the ball. It’s still playoff or bust in Columbus.

Quarterback Braxton Miller has improved each season and enters his senior year as a Heisman front-runner. On defense, the line boasts a wealth of depth, and the secondary displayed a newfound confidence during the spring. Co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash has rejuvenated the entire unit.

But deficiencies are present. Can Ezekiel Elliott (and others) replace Carlos Hyde’s production? Will the offensive line, which lost four starters, continue opening up holes that a Brinks truck could drive through? Meyer has frowned upon linebacker play for two seasons – will they finally perform up to the perfectionist head coach’s standard in 2014?

Those answers will decide whether Ohio State finds itself in Pasadena or New Orleans... or Orlando. “I was a little disappointed with what happened in the spring,” Meyer said at Big Ten Media Days Monday.

He’ll have four weeks to get up to speed.

Notes:

  • Meyer was thrilled with the new NCAA rules that allowed coaches to spend some time coaching players.
  • Miller is 100 percent healed from his off-season shoulder surgery. Meyer deemed him to be in the “best shape of his life” and is back to full speed.
  • The center battle is not all Chad Lindsay. Meyer said he, Jacoby Boren and Billy Price will all compete this fall. But Meyer said he’s a fan of Lindsay’s maturity.
  • “The East Division is very strong.” – Meyer, stating the obvious. He said he learned a long time ago you can’t control your conference schedule. Said it will
  • “It’s one of our stronger groups.” – Meyer on the linebackers, which should spread happiness throughout Columbus. He said it’s the best cohesion and teamwork he’s seen as a unit. Believes everyone is on the same page. This season, Meyer said he believes Ohio State fans will see the linebackers they are used to.
  • Ohio State used the Kight’s for leadership training last year. Nothing has changed in 2014. Meyer said they’ve spent an inordinate amount of time working on leadership because it’s so vital for a football team’s success.
  • Meyer categorized concern No. 1 as the offensive line. “Protection of the quarterback is paramount.” A considerable amount of the team’s focus in the fall will be spent on replacing all the talent lost.
  • Offensive will have a different flavor this season, but Meyer said it’ll still be 60-40 run vs. plays . The position he expects to make significant strides is wide receivers/tight ends. “We’re really staring to improve the supporting cast around Braxton.”
  • “We’re just trying to get to training camp healthy.”
  • Dontre Wilson has to be an impact guy, Meyer said – and he believes Wilson will be exactly that. He’s stronger, more familiar with the offense, etc.
  • Meyer said Ohio State had to hit a home run in Mike Vrabel’s replacement. “We’ve replaced Mike with a top-shelf coach,” Meyer said. A huge part of the equation deals with recruiting.
  • On Miller’s durability: “Do we try to slow Braxton down? Absolutely not. We try to protect him and surround him [with good players].” Meyer said Miller isn’t injury prone, he just tries so hard. 
39 Comments

Comments

WezBuck28's picture

I wouldn't be surprised to see less of brax running the ball with the speed and athleticism at the skill positions..Elliott will continue where he left off if the oline can get the job done. Good to hear the lb's are up to par with Meyer's expectations..should be an exciting season yet again!

+1 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Elliott will continue where he left off if the oline can get the job done.

He'll be great as Rod Smith's backup. :D

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

+4 HS
Bucksfan70's picture

great stuff, keep it coming!

football season is almost here! FINALLY!

“Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't.” - Jerry Rice

+1 HS
BKshepherd's picture

When Urban dropped the "Espirit de Corps" comment about our Linebackers, I bet Hoke was grabbing a dictionary.  Man its great to have a coach with class.

+2 HS
Oldschoolbuck's picture

If Jabba the Hoke was grabbing anything, it was probably a rack of ribs, some 'taters and gravy, some doughnuts...

+4 HS
fear_the_nut70's picture

In your scenario, does he set down his plate or his fork?

+3 HS
Oldschoolbuck's picture

Hmmmm... I'm going to take a shot in the dark and say neither! That's why God made GA's!

+1 HS
buckeyeradar's picture

Neither is right on.  The fork is used to stab anyone reaching for his food or food he wants.

Buckeye in Texas

bbb's picture

I'm fairly confident the O-line will be just fine. I can't help but to be slightly concerned about the secondary; after last season it became an instinct to wince whenever someone passed against us

+1 HS
brbrbuckeye's picture

I see the concern, but when I look at the Job Elflein did in last years 2 games and what Decker did I suddenly see only 3 question marks. Then when I see Lindsay in the lineup, a man who comes from O-line U we start only seeing 2 question marks. Throw in the experience Boren gained last year, we have one question mark. I believe our unit is not as bad as Urban is making it sound. This is what he did to our WR's in year 1 of his coaching staff. He called them out, and now he's doing the same to our O-line to motivate them. Urban's a genius and so is Warriner. I think OSU will be solid on offense again this year.

GO BUCKS!!! URBAN RENEWAL!

+10 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

I agree BR, to the extent that we have some experience and lots of talent. But the O-line requires a unique chemistry that comes from playing together. The first three games should give us an idea of where that unit stands.

+7 HS
Shangheyed's picture

Double UP that Mate!

+2 HS
brbrbuckeye's picture

I am so glad to hear our Linebackers are back to OSU standards.

GO BUCKS!!! URBAN RENEWAL!

+2 HS
GVerrilli92's picture

One of the running backs needs to be the real deal. The stable is packed, but somebody has to step up.

How many cheeseburgers are you gunna drive into that dirty old cheeseburger locker Brady Hoke?

+5 HS
northcampus's picture

I don't think this team needs a superstar RB to succeed.  On Meyer's two national title teams, I would not consider any of the Florida RB's to be a legit playmaker.  As long as the OL matures and the back of the defense is better/continues to get better, the Buckeyes will be just fine this year.  

I do think OSU throws the ball more this year (especially early in the season as the OL takes a few games to mesh).

+1 HS
Mortc15's picture

While having a RB heads and shoulder above the rest isnt absolutely necessary, it is an added bonus: Meyers 2 championship teams had Tebow, a big guy to get a yard or 2 when he absolutely needed it. As long as you establish a back that can do that, roll with everyone in the other situations. 

Buck-I4Life

sivaDavis's picture

Competition is the best thing you could have. Like Drayton said, if it takes 4-5 guys to match Guapos production from last year, he'll run with 4-5 guys. 

Personally I think it's going to be a mixture of EzE, Dontre and Rod Smith. EzE is running at around 225-230 now I believe and he is even faster than last year and has an even better grasp of the playbook. He should get a majority of those touches. Rod Smith if he can get his fumbling issues correct will be a nice guy to have in the redzone and Dontre on 3rd down situations where you can line him up in the backfield, in pistol, in the slot, out wide, etc. 

Here's to hoping I'm wrong and that every single back is too good to keep off the field and we see a heavy mix of Dontre, EzE, Curtis Samuel, Dunn, Smith, and Ball. 

"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

+4 HS
rosenbuck's picture

We have so many good running backs its gross!  One of them will be the next great Buckeye back. Only one more month...

+1 HS
Shangheyed's picture

Again RB depends on the success of the OL... OL key to keeping B. Miller healthy.,,, KEY of KEYS.

Might it be our OL was just amazing last year and second and 3rd team RBs enjoyed that OL's success  as well.... Faith in the coaching but there is a gap in recruiting before Urban arrived... and poor coaching before that....as well as many of the potential starters are converted DL prospects which have potential, but will be missing experience and training, footwork... etc.   

I'm Hopeful like you but we will most likely miss our OL from last year....

GoBucksOSU's picture

I have confidence they will get the offensive line figured out.

+2 HS
Boxley's picture

Ok, I will ask, What does 60/40 run vs. plays mean? 60% run versus any other type of play, or passing?

"...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

cw823's picture

I think it means, as communicated with several other grammatical and/or spelling errors, that someone posted this update in a rush.....

+5 HS
Oldschoolbuck's picture

This^^^

Urbz presser was very encouraging - especially about the linebackers. We all have known that the O-line was the major question mark entering this season (because, well, the secondary could only get better, and with Chris Ash, it seems we've turned that corner). I have total confidence in Ed Warinner's ability to coach a very talented, if young, group up to Buckeye standards.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I watched the press conference. Reading between the lines (and knock on wood), it seems like Urbz is pretty bullish on this team. He didn't say that, per se, but it was just the vibe I got from what he was saying. You can tell that he likes how LB and WR units, respectively, are developing and improvements in those two units will go a long way for this team. 

+2 HS
dubjayfootball90's picture

Now I am pumped to see some nasty a$$ linebacker play.

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

+3 HS
Shangheyed's picture

Indeed will be a nice change!!  Sets the tone for the Defense....

+1 HS
TUNBUCK89's picture

I credit.......Luke Fickell !

+10 HS
BUCKSOMIES's picture

^^^This^^^ Indeed it is Luke's fault.

chirobuck's picture

not hard to imagine the two units we will probably see the most improvement is the LBs and the WRs, but I think the unit I'm most excited to see is the secondary because of the combined philosophy/coaching change and the youth movement, we are going to see our next set of stars emerging this year

 
^ best post ever ^

+2 HS
Duane's picture

I think the offensive line will gell by game 4.

Duane Combs

Jbucks's picture

i want 60-40 pass vs run!!! not 60-40 run vs pass!!! were gonna have to be a passing team at some point right!? think about all the outside playmakers we now have. and the playmaking fast guys were still recruiting we cant be recruiting all these fast guys just so that we can have Braxton running the option read and run play 80% of the time lets open up this playbook and make our throws!! if i see the same old stuff from last year (yes i know it was a record breaking offense) im going to scream! if you really think about it half our throws were screens to philly and hyde with the occasional deep ball to smith. i just wanna see us open up the playbook and go with the 10-20 yard passes downfield and allow our recievers use their speed we keep hearing about and make plays!!! but be real how much better do u think our offense could have been if we ran the slant game a little more and HIT OUR TE'S alot more? we got the talent there and running the same 3 plays all game wont do anything but hold our guys back now LETS GO BUCKS IM SOOO PUMPED FOR THE START OF THE SEASON!!!!!

Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it-John 1:5 SEC meet Ohio State, Ohio State meet SEC

ITWASME's picture

Our whole offense was/is/will be based on the power run game which has definitely been working more than well for us. No way we change to a passing team. I do agree that we need to do more in the passing game but that doesn't just entail passing more

+1 HS
Jbucks's picture

the power ryn game is our bread and butter yeah, but thats not a secret if we dont start passing and showing we can execute more than 2 route patterns teams will gun for that running play and then what? the spread is used to spread the field get recievers open and to make the defense adjust continuously. By passing more early in games and executing on more than just screen patterns the field starts to spread, the defense must then adjust to the passing game if they cant make the right adjustments we must be able to execute different routes to keep the defense miserable, tired and guessing then once theyre starting to focus on dropping thd LB's into coverage you hit them with the power run game. Play Action also needs to be utilized more on various routes if we do decide to come out the gate running and they start to hone in on the running game, we dont have the same run blocking o-line we did last year everybody and their momma knew we were gonna run it but the oline was good enough to handle it, by making the defense guess you take some pressure off of that o-line and you allow the playmakers we been recruiting to do what we brought them here to do which is make plays. We were a good offense last year and a good offense doesnt become great by sitting around doing the same stuff over and over because the teams that do their homework will see we run the same plays over and over and they will hone in on that if we want a NC its time to expand our playcalling and hit em where it hurts bcuz come playoff time running the ball 60 times wont get us very far, teams are to good for us to stay complacent we have the pieces use them. TE's in the middle of the field make thr safties play up which opens up the deep ball which is where we will kill teams. now isnt the time to be complacent

Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it-John 1:5 SEC meet Ohio State, Ohio State meet SEC

Fugelere's picture

If Braxton has developed as advertised, we will see more in the passing game.  

Jpfbuck's picture

by actual play count last year we were 63% run and 37% pass. but those numbers are a but skewed as most of us know by sacks and QB scrambles as well as the occasional thrown handoff to a WR/TE,

we were sacked 22 times last year and had at least 30 QB scrambles off of designed pass plays and in a couple wr/te screens and you get much closer to 60/40.

given that in games like Florida A&M (where we didnt throw a single pass in the 2nd half or Purdue where we threw only 4 passes in the 4th qtr or Indiana where we threw zero passes in the 4th quarter, that means we threw 364 passes in the other 13 equivalent games, or about 28 per game, in Pryor's last year we only threw 27 per game

so assuming we maybe dont have quite that many massive blow outs where we simply put the O in idle late in the game, then i assume that ratio will improve slightly

i think we see more flares and screens to the likes of Wilson and our WR core to make that ratio better

TheBadOwl's picture

Either the lighting was really funky or someone's white balance on their camera is messed up.

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

Fugelere's picture

I thought it was just the mood lighting?

bedheadjc's picture

Heyyy, how about we take those lights down just a bit for me....a little more...there, yeahhh, right there. "Hey folks, I'm very excited to be here tonight.." could you put some music on too..maybe?...yeah...Barry White? K....perfect. "..Very excited to talk about this year's team..'

+1 HS
brbrbuckeye's picture

Those of you concerned about the Offensive line, don't forget about the miracle Warriner worked with the previous one. Here's a nasty reminder that many of us cringe to see.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKfNJiNJ_DM

GO BUCKS!!! URBAN RENEWAL!