Fall camp gets underway for the Buckeyes on Friday and every single Ohio State position coach will have a mental list of things that they need to get done.
In fact, they may actually have a physical list as well.
Speculating as to what might be on each assistant coach’s list is always a fun exercise, and there are no shortages of items that will need to be addressed.
Up first, we’ll start with the offensive line, because if they don’t get it going, then the offense could be dead in the water from the get go.
With four new starters and some inexperienced players looking for very big roles, Ryan Day is right to be concerned.
So with all of that in mind, what might Greg Studrawa’s to-do list look like right now?
1. Get Josh Myers ready to be the Apex.
Urban Meyer used to call the center “the Apex of the offense,” but he didn’t really do much of that last year with Michael Jordan at center. Even though Jordan was a First-Team All-American at center last year, the run game on the interior never really opened up. As the assumed starter this year, redshirt sophomore Josh Myers needs to change that. Studrawa said they could have turned to Myers about halfway through last season if they needed to, but the need never arose. Myers, like Jordan, Billy Price, and Pat Elflein before him, moved to center from guard. He is athletic and smart and Studrawa says he is ready. That’s fine, but he needs to be more than ready — he needs to be the Apex.
2. Find your left guard.
This is going to be one of the more interesting battles of fall camp. Branden Bowen is the most versatile offensive lineman on the team. Rutgers transfer Jonah Jackson is still learning the offense, but he’s a quick study. Fourth-year junior Gavin Cupp was with the ones all spring long. We won’t know where everybody lines up to open camp until Friday, but it’s a good bet the eventual starter at left guard comes from one of the three names mentioned above.
3. Make sure Thayer Munford is ready.
Thayer Munford was an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten pick last year as a true sophomore. He played well at left tackle and is the lone returning full-time starter for the Buckeyes. And while that’s all well and good, he missed the bowl game with a back injury and also missed spring ball. Head coach Ryan Day has said Munford is back to 100%, which is good news. Now Studrawa has to not only get Munford back to where he was last year, but he needs to get him beyond that. The status quo won’t work, but there will be a catch-up process here. They need to make that process happen as quickly as possible.
4. Get the mentality back.
It may be number four on this list, but it’s number one in your hearts. The Ohio State offensive line must get back to operating like the pissed off group of run blockers they need to be. No more Mr. Nice Guys, it’s time to set the tone for the running game. Push the defense back onto their heels and then fold their torsos shut like a suitcase. The Ohio State running game should never look like it did last year, and Greg Studrawa has to make sure it never looks like that again.
5. Prepare Nicholas Petit-Frere for what is to come.
Nicholas Petit-Frere played a little bit last year, but maintained his redshirt. If he is as good as his recruiting ranking, then he may never see that fifth year. But that’s a long way off. Petit-Frere was mostly with the ones at right tackle this spring. He opened behind Branden Bowen initially, but then Bowen slid over to left tackle while Josh Alabi was down with an illness, then to right guard when Wyatt Davis was out briefly. While Bowen was moving around, Petit-Frere stayed still. Greg Studrawa didn’t move him because he wants him ready to compete for the job in camp. If he is good enough to start, then that will free Studrawa up to continue moving Bowen around wherever necessary. Petit-Frere was a 5-star recruit with immense potential. The sooner he begins routinely displaying that potential, the better off the entire offense will be.
Spot on James Mills, our entire season flopped last year, because our OL was sub par; 1. We couldn’t score in the red zone as we had no ability to run. 2. Haskins didn’t add the wrinkle of a running qb. 3. Both Dobbins and Weber suffered from it. FINALLY; PSU exposed it, we escaped MN, Pur, exploited it, with NE it was fixed enough to win, MSU it began to function, and against MD and MI, it lead to an explosion of 110 + pts.
This is the group that will tell the tale of this season. Football games are almost always won up front on both sides of the ball. Losing 4 starters is tough but we’ve been recruiting talent for years. If they get coached up we should be fine.
Thayer Munford is a beast. Everyone says that he’s ready to go yesterday. I’m pretty sold on that blind side having bedrock to anchor it. My pick at LG would be Branden Bowen. When he plays he’s always a tick or 2 above solid. Quite happy with Josh Myers at Center. He should have started there LAST with Michael Jordan at LG where he longed. Lets face it. Drive blocking sucked moose tits last year. From center to the edge IMHO the offensive line is already better than last years group.
I think it’s safe to believe that the Buckeye offensive line from RG (Wyatt Davis WILL BE an All American) left the Thayer is probably the very best offensive front in a very long time at Ohio State. But it needs that final piece.
Fortunately Nicholas Petit-Frere is smart, fast and ready to become a really good offensive tackle. BUT, in the event that he for some reason struggles, Branden Bowen or Josh Alibi can man that position very well. If Brandens number is called in that scenario, Jonah Jackson is a really good piece to slide into LG. Studrawa is completely without excuse this year. I think he feels the pressure too and I’d anticipate seeing a Buckeye offensive line from Hades coming out of that tunnel on Saturdays.
I’m stocking up on real Maple Syrup for this fall. The expectation is that offensive line is going to fill plate after plate with pancakes. Before fall camp concludes that unit is going to be VERY battle tested by the Mentors troops and Coach Mattison’s slick but simple tactical assault weapons at linebacker.
Strap em on boys….it’s about to get real.
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