Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has said from preseason camp through the Buckeyes' season-opener against Navy that his team's No. 1 concern is the offensive line.
On Saturday against the Hokies, Meyer's concern became a harsh reality as the Ohio State offensive line allowed seven sacks against a ruthless Virginia Tech defense that sent relentless pressure at quarterback J.T. Barrett all night, holding the redshirt freshman to just 9-for-29 passing for 219 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
In the opener against the Midshipmen, the Buckeyes' played poorly up front and Meyer said it was still a major concern going forward, despite playing much better in the second half.
"I'm very disappointed. There is a standard set for offensive line play for many, many years and it's been enhanced by our line coach Ed Warinner over the past few," Meyer said after the win over Navy. "The first two quarters didn't resemble an offensive line of Ohio State."
Against Virginia Tech, all four quarters didn't really resemble one.
Coming into the season, the Buckeyes had to replace four starting offensive linemen, two of which are Week 1 starters in the NFL as rookies. The lone returner, Taylor Decker, also moved from right tackle to left tackle.
With Ohio State trailing 21-7 at halftime against the Hokies and the Buckeyes seemingly abandoning their running game, the Virginia Tech defense pinned its ears back in the second half and brought pressure on almost every pass attempt, dropping Barrett six times in the second half alone.
Under Bud Foster, the Hokies have been a perennial top 10 defense and against the inexperienced Buckeyes' offense, they certainly looked the part.
Virginia Tech dialed up a lot of its pressure on third down as it limited the Buckeyes to just a 2-for-12 showing, while the Hokies converted on 9-of-17 third-down tries. The Hokies also recorded 11 tackles for a loss.
"The thing that's going to be real obvious the way we operate, there's not going to be this guy's gotta do better. We're not going to do that," Meyer said after the loss to the Hokies. "Where do you put the blame or something. We don't blame people. We just gotta get a lot better. And that starts tomorrow. We had a good meeting as a team."