Return Of Bowen, Taylor Could Shake Up Buckeye Line

Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins Malcolm Pridgeon Michael Jordan

The struggles of the Ohio State rushing attack this fall have been well-documented. So has the role that the Buckeyes’ offensive line has played in those uneven performances.

The OSU coaching staff has tried to downplay their concerns over the past month or so, pointing out that the increase use of run-pass option plays may end up skewing the stats.

The argument is that the threat of the run forces the defense to move more defenders up in the box, opening up the passing game behind them. Ero, they say, you should really include those passing yards in the rushing totals.

Whether you buy that or not, it doesn’t explain the struggles the Buckeyes have had in short yardage and red zone situations.

Against Purdue, they had 0, 1, 1, 5, -1, and 2 yards rushing on snaps taken in the red zone. On average, that’s 1.5 yards and a cloud of field goal attempts.

Over the bye week, offensive coordinator Ryan Day said the coaching staff was looking into how much the offensive line has been part of the issue in the Buckeyes’ struggles.

I think that we’ve had really good plays and we’ve had some other plays that we wished we had back,” Day said. “You have to do a good job of assessing whether it’s execution, personnel or scheme.”

Sometimes, it’s how a coach says – or doesn’t say – something that is the most telling part of an interview.

Monday, Urban Meyer was asked, “Moving Michael Jordan to center obviously has a ripple effect on the rest of the line as you move pieces around. How do you think that’s gone for you guys through eight games?”

Meyer paused for seven full seconds before answering.

At times outstanding, and other times it has not been great,” he said.

“(Jordan has) been playing pretty good. But there is a little bit of a ripple effect. But you’ve got to get your five best (linemen) on the field,” Meyer said.

The Buckeyes were forced to move Jordan to center because Brady Taylor, the expected starter there, suffered a knee injury during training camp.

The fact that guard Branden Bowen had a setback in his recovery from a broken leg didn’t help either.

Those injuries not only forced Jordan to move, but also thrust Malcolm Pridgeon into the starting lineup at left guard.

But Monday, Meyer said that both Bowen and Taylor had made significant progress.

“They’re both getting pretty close. They should be practicing today against scout (team). Not quite full speed, but getting closer,” Meyer said, adding, “there is a chance” that one or both could play this week.

If so, it could provide a much-needed spark up front.

In the first four games of the year, LT Thayer Munford, Jordan, RG Demetrius Knox, and RT Isaiah Prince all graded out as Champions every week. Pridgeon went three-for-four.

However, starting with the win over Penn State, Pridgeon and Jordan have been Champions twice, and Knox was named for the Penn State game. That’s it.

The team doesn’t announce Champions after a loss, but the line went 19-for-20 in the first four games, and 5-for-20 in the last four.

It’s not hard to connect the dots between that and four of the worst rushing performances of the Meyer era.

Taylor has spent most of his career at center, and Bowen has played both guard and tackle. When they return, they will give the coaching staff options, which is a luxury they haven’t had for much of the fall.

After that, as Day acknowledged during the off-week, it’s up to the coaching staff to get things figured out.

“That’s the job of a coach is to get the things we need to get fixed, we’ve got to get them fixed,” Day said.

4 Responses

  1. James Mills has correctly assessed the situation. I am surprised that it has taken our coaching staff so long to observe and correct the obvious. Our young men are the players that represent OSU and no matter the result we should all be proud of them. Coaches on the other hand should step up to the situation or be replaced. No linebackers in the middle of the field is getting to be ridiculous.

  2. We’ve had really good plays and really bad plays? When did they have really good rushing totals? Against Oregon State? Oregon State has the 126th worst rush defense in the Country and give up 6.7 ypc, which happens to be tied with next to last as the crappiest defense in college football. Gordon Gee and the LSOTP (literal convent sisters) would maul that puke of a rush defense. What the Buckeyes did to them with 2 of College Footballs best running backs turns out to be absolutely nothing special at 7.1 ypc against them.

    Something has caused the running game to descend to being among the wastelands of big time college ball rushing attacks. That’s such happy horeshit blaming the passing game, or because Dwayne is a pass first QB. A running game begins and ends with the level of play of the offensive line. Running the football is 100% attitude, and apparently the offensive line doesn’t have the right plays OR any kind of fight, OR proper scheme. When we’ve seen since Urban first got to Ohio State failures in the running game, it’s been when a pro style QB is set to start. Blocking schemes/plays and assignments have to mirror that change…..and THAT IS NOT on Dwayne and the passing game. Defenses are doing nothing different this year than they done over the years. Anyone in the 1st grade can flip on a games and count the numbers of defenders in the box.

    The answer is 2 fold. The offensive line is plain awful, and in 2018 they don’t get the benefit of a defense that can be stingy to opponents offenses.

    Linebackers and OLine were the 2 biggest concerns entering this season. It turns out those fears were exactly right. As fans we just weren’t expecting to see anything close to the performances we’ve seen from those 2 units in particular. Both of those units happen to be the foundation for either side of the ball………..Linebackers who are clueless, and an offensive line that is atrocious, and doesn’t possess a single bit of attitude or fight. That all points back at position coaching and coordination. If it’s not RPO Urban doesn’t know how to coach it. That’s readily apparent that he hasn’t long since gone by made scheme corrections and changed personnel to find at least 1 guy for that front 5 who has even a little fight in him.

    I can go back to when the official depth chart on the season was released. The entire left side was compromised by new guys with Michael Jordan moving to center. Pretty sure I made the comment that it was a STUPID idea because the line would be horribly unbalanced. The scarlet glasses people rushed here to shout me down. I’ve seen a couple of those posters have changed their tune.

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