Replacing Branden Bowen, and Candidates to Push Matthew Burrell For Ohio State's Opening at Right Guard

By James Grega on October 9, 2017 at 3:00 pm
Branden Bowen

Since Urban Meyer arrived at Ohio State, his offensive line has been among the healthiest in the country. 

Since 2012, the Buckeyes have started the same offensive line in their season opener as they have in the season finale, but that will not be the case in 2017, as Branden Bowen suffered a season-ending leg injury in Ohio State's 62-14 victory over Maryland on Saturday.

Bowen, a first-year starter, beat out the likes of Matthew Burrell, Demetrius Knox and Malcolm Pridgeon for the starting right guard spot out of fall camp. He was also a backup tackle for the Buckeyes, filling in for Jamarco Jones for a drive against Indiana in which Burrell moved to right guard. 

With Bowen out, Burrell got the first reps and finished the game with both the first- and second-team offensive lines. That said, Urban Meyer did not rule out the possibility of a competition for reps at right guard moving forward. 

"Next man up right now looks like Matt Burrell. And we'll see if there's any competition at that spot," Meyer said. "That's alarming, but Matt played OK. So we'll see what happens there."

Burrell, Knox and Pridgeon have all played in some capacity for Ohio State this season, with Burrell playing the most offensive snaps between the three. 

Starting center and four-year starter Billy Price said after the Buckeyes' win over Maryland he is confident in whoever replaces Bowen. 

"The word 'battle' itself, it might not be appropriate, but that's not my decision to make," Price said. "Whoever they put in there, we have 100 percent confidence in the coaches to make sure that guy is up to par, whoever it may be."

Burrell has battled a foot injury this season that kept him out of games against Army and UNLV, but he returned against Rutgers to play in mop-up duty before playing a career-high 69 snaps against Maryland. 

Pridgeon has also battled injuries in his time at Ohio State, missing the entire 2016 season due to a knee injury. He has spent time on special teams this season and has limited time playing guard with the second-team offensive line. 

Knox has slightly more reps with the backups this season, and was Ohio State's first offensive lineman off the bench when Michael Jordan suffered an injury against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl last season. He visibly struggled against the Tigers in that game, however, and did not appear on the Buckeyes' depth chart prior to the Maryland game. 

View 58 Comments