Meyer: First Half 'Didn’t Resemble an Offensive Line at Ohio State'

By Patrick Maks on August 30, 2014 at 10:39p

BALTIMORE – Two weeks ago, the big dark cloud hovering over the Woody Hayes Athletic Center was whether or not backup quarterback J.T. Barrett would be able to fill the oversized shoes of Braxton Miller.

After Ohio State’s 34-17 win against Navy Saturday in Baltimore, it looks like the more proper concern might need to be aimed at the Buckeyes’ new-look offensive line.

“We were very disappointed, there’s a standard set of offensive line play for many, many years and it’s really been enhanced by our line coach Ed Warinner the last two years and it didn’t resemble an offensive line at Ohio State the first two quarters and I’m being hard on them,” Meyer said.

“But I think they played much better second half. We’ll evaluate the film, we have to settle in on a starting five and we have to play much better if we’re gonna make a dent in the Big Ten conference. I just think we expected the offensive line to play much better.”

The unit, which is replacing four multi-year starters in Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall, seemed discombobulated at best for the first three quarters. Running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Curtis Samuel struggled to find footing in the first half and the chaos failed to give Barrett much – if any – of a cushion from the Midshipmen’s pass rush.

“We wanted to open it up a little bit more in the first half,” Meyer said. “t wasn’t because of him, it was because our offensive line.”

Added Meyer: “It wasn’t lack of confidence in J.T. it was lack of confidence in protection.”

It’s why Meyer and the Buckeyes shrunk their playbook to quite literally a handful of calls during the second half.

“We had nine new starters on offense, that’s not a normal transition. First half was tough. We kind of settled in, we only ran about four or five plays in the second half and one was that little hand sweep to one of the H backs,” Meyer said.

In the end, Ohio State’s lineup of Taylor Decker, Pat Elflein, Darryl Baldwin, Jacoby Boren and Joel Hale (who replaced Billy Price in the first half) eased into a groove that kindled a 28-point second half. 

“We really had to get the O-line going. They had a slow start. They weren’t in sync really,” sophomore speedster Dontre Wilson said.

“They pretty much put their head down and put their feet in the ground and were ready to go.”

And against Virginia Tech and its blitz-happy defense next weekend, the Buckeyes probably won't have much room for error or slow starts. 


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Hovenaut's picture

Four new starters.

I know they're on the clock, but I'm confident this group finds their stride...albeit sooner than later I hope.

+7 HS

I guess that answers the question as to why there were so many ORs on the OL depth chart leading up to the game. Here's hoping Meyer and Warinner can light a fire under them because VT will be a LOT tougher.

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

+4 HS
MikeTheBuckeye's picture

I wish we broke in some guys sooner. Having 4 seniors graduate left a huge void that is proving to be rather difficult to fill.

+1 HS
NashBuckeye's picture

The O line play did get significantly better in the second half.  I am with HOV thinking that Warriner will get them playing better soon.  Gonna need to be better next week.

+2 HS
dubjayfootball90's picture

A lot of new starters comes with growing pains. There were also a few times where that one dt beat double teams. Rod smith slipped on a block. Just a very sloppy start from protection standpoint. Guys getting beat on an inside pass rush stunt when no one is on the outside. A lot of frustration but they gelled at the right time. I did not know price was replaced either. Not an injury I presume?

Also. Forgive the choppyness of this post. I am on my phone.

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

droessl's picture

I love Meyer's honesty when it comes to being critical.  From a fan's perspective, it gives me confidence that the coaches see the problems, and aren't satisfied with just getting a W. 

+4 HS
southbay's picture

Joel Hale and Billy Price look like two of the strongest men I have ever seen, but Billy looked like he was still learning the position.  Hale is new on the O line as well but his overall experience is a plus.   

My2Sons's picture

  I  wonder, with so many new guys, why we didn't  start the game with just a 1/2 doz. or so plays?  Let them  get their feet under themselves.

I'm not sure, that the option play thay we lost 8yds. on 4 &1 looked a lot like the same play  we ran against Mich. St..

-4 HS
lippertini's picture

Why italics?  Here, that stands for "sarcasm font".

As for your first question, I'm assuming the line seemed capable of more in practice and showed otherwise in the stress of the game environment.

sb97's picture

Remember how bad Taylor Decker got abused against Buffalo last year?  He turned out alright. Its bigger task to bring a whole line up to speed but I have faith in the staff and faith in the players to put in the work.

+4 HS
HYDEYOKIDS's picture

I have faith too but Decker was abused by Khalil Mack who ended up being a top 5 pick. I don't think anyone on the navy defense will be a first round pick.

+5 HS
Crumb's picture

Hey they made noted improvement from the first half to the second half today so I think they'll get there. I love to hear though that they and the coaches are hungry.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

+1 HS
Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

The change to Joel Hale seemed to settle the OL a bit and they played much better in the second half.

mtrotb's picture

Hale only played in first half as Price went back in and played the 2nd.


southernstatesbuckeye's picture

The line will gel quickly enough, and the defense should shine next week against an unimpressive VT offense.  I want to think that all the practice at playing "assignment" football preparing for Navy would improve the overall defensive consistency, no?

I like cookies.

sivaDavis's picture

Billy Price and Daryl Baldwin looked overmatched at times. Hell even Eiflein got beat pretty damn bad one play. If that was the 4th or 5th game into the year, I would be very worried but it was the first and they did improve in the 2nd half. Whether it was jitters, the spotlight or whatever, it seemed to subside in the newer guys later on in the game. 

Our Buckeyes have all the talent in the world but our offensive line HAS to be solid. You can have a great running back but if he has no holes to run through, he doesn't have any chances to be great. Same with WRs and our QB. If the offensive line doesn't give JT time to throw the ball, he won't be able to get it to our WRs and they won't be able to make plays because JT can't get the pass off. It all starts up front no matter how cliche that sounds.

Losing 4 starters on the line was huge. HUGE. I think they rebound this next game and are solid by B1G play with what hopefully looks like a tune up game against Kent State and a fair test against Cincy. 

"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

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

I love that VT blitz a lot - it will give our speedsters a chance to open things up and put them on their heels 

tcm1968's picture

Just seemed like there wasn't a lot of chemistry between the sides of the lines. Individually they all played pretty well when they were asked to go one on one but any time they were asked to do something in tandem they didn't gel ( especially in the first half). Seemed to be guard play that was having all sorts of troubles. All of the pressure came up the middle and I counted at least four different times that either Price or Elflein just blew double team assignments. The tackles had blocks to the outside and guards had double team block to the inside and just seemed like the guards blew their assignments over and over. Baldwin got beat inside on one play and you could just see him looking at the guard " like, dude that was supposed to be a double team with you blocking on the inside".. They'll get better as their chemistry gets better. Coaches settling on five guys can't hurt either. First game so some of that stuff is expected. Only bummer for me was even though they were out of sync you'd still expect one guy to just dominate every snap. Didn't see that. Seems like as a group they were thinking instead of just playing football. Go Bucks!

+1 HS
Humbuck's picture

I think back to Decker's first couple games last year.  Granted, #1 was against a first rounder but he was shaky at times early last year.  Once he got his groove everything was fine. 

They'll get there, if they can adjust and improve in game then I think they can take the next step this week in practice. 

socalbuck2014's picture

Couple thoughts....Rod Smith? Will he ever get some carries? The option play was awful on 4 and 1. JTB needs to be cut loose I think we held him back to not show va tech anything. Greatest improvement is always week 1 to week 2. They covered the damn spread bottom line. Scored on d. Would love to see a better return game.

12 for 15 is killer and jt will be getting better from here on out.

That d line is just lights out. I can't wait til we play a team with a traditional offense. Sorry just drunken tired rambling.

Pay it forward

ohiobobg's picture

.... and yet, coherent. Agree with all points. < now, I gotta go nap till next Saturday.... >

"you can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning"

whiskeyjuice's picture

I'm glad we came out with a win.

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

+1 HS
Frimmel's picture

I think the key line is "We have to settle on a starting five." They've probably been shuffling the guys around so much trying to find the best lineup they forgot to just tell a guy if you want to play get better at RG. If they'd settled on starters even if they weren't "the best" they'd probably have looked better in the first half.

TURD_BUCKET's picture

The offense will be defined by the O-line.The big numbers and output from last years record setting offense was due in large part to a very good O-line. The inexperience of the skill players places even more emphasis on the line. It will take great coaching to improve their technique and lots of film study to improve their assignments for this O-line. The O-line needs to be physical and tough. That comes from within. Steady improvement from this group will allow the skill players to become everything we think they are, explosive. The line may lack some game experience, but the starters have been in the program 3-4 years, so there is no reason not to have the expectation that they will have success.


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

SpielmanForPres's picture

I expected the line to struggle at times, to think otherwise isn't really practical. They'll only get better with reps and game time, so hitting the panic button is very premature. 

+1 HS
steveoz49's picture

I agree with pretty much everything that has been said.  Let us not forget one thing....Navy is one hell of a good football team.  It's not like we played UC Davis (no offense to them, just trying to make a point) or some Div 2 school.  Navy is a bowl team that won 9 games last year.  So, I'd like to give them some credit as well.  Virginia Tech is going to be a test... time to buckle up.

+1 HS
ohiobobg's picture

I think our D passed a very difficult test. Next week - the O.....

"you can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning"

MN Buckeye's picture

Now the coaches know what practice will look like this week.

dmorris's picture

I couldn't believe how quick Dontre Wilson is!  Given some OL blocking I suspect he'll have some highlights before the year is done!

Dave in Troy OH

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

It was not good in the first half.  I figured with the new starters, it may take a couple of series to start to get their footing (though I was hoping for better play than what we saw).  It took longer than that, but eventually they did start playing well and that was reflected on the scoreboard.

I'm not concerned too terribly much with the offensive line right now - they'll be good, especially as the season goes along - but they better be ready coming out the gate against Virginia Tech.  Bigger and better talent along their front 7. 

Class of 2010.

ibuck's picture

I don't know if they'll be ready for VT, and based on what we've seen of these Buckeyes, that will be a tough game.

And based on the VT game, we'll know if OSU is rebuilding or reloading this season.

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.

ohiobobg's picture

I see a 10-6 victory in our very near future........

"you can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning"

nickel beer's picture

I was surprised how quick all of our offense playmakers are--even though I expected it.  Must've been because of my off-season lag.  Once the O-line is coordinating among themselves and in sync with the rest more often than not, this offense will advance at warp speed, with big play potential from anywhere on the field.

And one more lag-related observation from me:  I was was wrong/surpised about the O-line readiness for this first game.  But, it was good to see the O-line respond and improve within the progress of the game.  In terms of preparedness, they were probably about at least one qtr behind where they could've realistically been from the start, in which case we maybe could've seen Cardale in the mix occasionally, during mid-2nd half onward. 

I'm a fan of both these QBs, but I'm really looking forward to seeing Cardale taking bodies with him down the field and into the end zone. I'm also glad having to beat NAVY is behind these guys.  Go NAVY

No Sleep Till Blacksburg

ohiobobg's picture

If our O-line improved from 1st to 2nd half- imagine how good we'll be by MSU game!!! ( let's get past VT 1st...... )

"you can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning"

nickel beer's picture

No doubt they'll be improved, and I don't envy the attention they'll be getting during this week, hah.

No Sleep Till Blacksburg

pdan46's picture

It is important to recognize that Coach Meyer said the OL failed to meet expectations. He did not say that they are not good enough. We have 9 or 10 OL who are definitely good enough to be solid players. But they need to gel as a unit. The OL last year had 4 very easy games to gel and they became e strength thereafter. Give this OL a few weeks. They should be solid by the Cincinnati game and good enough until then. And as that happens Barrett and the RBs will look better and better.

ibuck's picture

 We kind of settled in, we only ran about four or five plays in the second half and one was that little hand sweep to one of the H backs,” Meyer said.

Little hand sweep? Dunno what that is. Would be great to see a gif of that play.

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.

ohiobobg's picture

Taylor Decker, Pat Elflein, Darryl Baldwin, Jacoby Boren and Joel Hale. Stick with it going forward.

"you can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning"

Jabba1977's picture

I hope that this problem will be solved extremely soon!! We have to get this problem solved,right away!!


bucks4nuts's picture

4 or 5 play calls.. Saw that last year..

hope pe to open it up some next and weeks to follow

"To The House"

collisionbend's picture

Couldn't watch the game, as I was driving with the wife from Canton to Connecticut. I was forced to listen to the game on Sirius, and it wasn't old friend Paul Keels, either - it was the Navy home announcers. It sounded horrible - especially when their color guy started talking about how the Navy defensive players were so good playing "in precision" "in space" and trying desperately to sound intelligent, knowledgeable, coherent - and failed miserably. What the hell is playing "in precision"? WTF? I've heard "in space" before, and I know what it's supposed to mean - and understand, too, that it's gibberish used by color guys who want to sound good...

Anyway, the second half sounded much better to me, as their announcers stopped their incessant gloating and lived up to the realization that their pipe dream was over. If you listened to the Navy announcers, you'd have come away with the idea that Navy blew the Bucks' o-line open instead of the Bucks breaking down. I knew better, of course, but still...

Seriously, guys, you have no idea how good we have it with Paul and Jim; I wish we could impress on tOSU how very large Buckeye Nation truly is so that we can get better national coverage on FM and satellite.

"There's a fine line between perception and reality." -- Luke Fickell

steveinkc's picture

really have a hard time understanding why a short pass to our tight ends is not always in our game plan. both of them are about 6-6 and can run!! herman had them flexed most of the time and we never went from 2 tight end set to help ground game and mess up their line stunts. we could have been more basic in our formations to assist the ground game and still had 2 good people to throw too!! herman makes it too complicated and didn't help barrett get off to a better start in first half!