With four of five starters returning and a fifth-year senior stepping in as the “new guy,” Ohio State’s offensive line certainly isn’t short on experience in 2015.
The Buckeyes will have one of the strongest units up front in the country as they attempt to win back-to-back national championships. The group drives the team and sets the tone for Ohio State’s high-powered offensive attack.
“Coach Meyer always says it’s an offensive line-driven team,” right guard Pat Elflein said Wednesday as the Buckeyes finished their third practice of fall camp. “We bring the juice at practice. We take that role and we embrace it and we’re just going to keep doing what we did last year.”
It wasn’t always this way, though.
At this time one year ago, the offensive line was concern No. 1 for head coach Urban Meyer as Ohio State was trying to replace four of its five starters from the 2013 season. The Buckeyes struggled early — especially in that Week 2 loss to Virginia Tech — but as the season went along, the unit became stronger and stronger.
And by the time Ohio State was playing Oregon for the national title, it had one of the strongest offensive lines in the country.
“Just coach the small details that affect each player. You’re not coaching scheme as much, you’re not coaching some of the fundamentals that they’ve mastered.”– Ed Warinner
Elflein, Taylor Decker, Billy Price and Jacoby Boren all return up front in 2015. Chase Farris, the fifth-year senior, will step in and play right tackle for the departed Darryl Baldwin. There’s plenty of experience up front for offensive line coach Ed Warinner to work with.
As a result, this year’s training camp is much different for Warinner than last season’s. He’s taking on an additional role as offensive coordinator with Tom Herman’s departure, but he also doesn’t have to face the challenges of bringing together an entirely new unit.
“Details, just coach details,” Warinner said. “Just coach the small details that affect each player. You’re not coaching scheme as much, you’re not coaching some of the fundamentals that they’ve mastered.”
Warinner said it’s that attention to detail that will allow the guys up front to improve on last year’s success.
“You’re moving on to the next phase of their development,” Warinner said. “So we’re real big on the details for each specific guy because everybody has areas to improve so we’re just trying to find each specific guy’s.”
It’s different this time around. The Buckeyes are better and have more experience. They know they are one of the top offensive lines in the country. But they also are trying to take an approach which allows them to become even better.
“We can’t get overconfident. We gotta stay humble and take the same approach,” Elflein said. “We have more experience now so we can build on that. Same mentality out to practice every day.”