Most Important Buckeyes: No. 6
By Tony Gerdeman
Left tackle is the position on the offensive line that gets more attention than any other because it is generally the last line of defense for a quarterback's blind side.
Photo by Jim Davidson
For Ohio State, that blindside position will be manned by junior Jack Mewhort this year, and it's a position he's never played before.
Don't fret, however, because even though Mewhort has spent most of his career at guard, coaches always knew that his versatility could one day land him on the edge at tackle.
At 6-6 and 312 pounds, he certainly has the size to play the position, but it's his hands and feet that will ultimately determine if the move from guard to tackle was a wise one.
What Makes Him Important
Mewhort will be Braxton Miller's backside protection, and if that protection is lacking, Miller will be running for his life on a weekly basis that not even 'The Fugitive' could have handled.
(right) battles Buckeye defensive end Michael Bennett while practicing at left tackle this fall.
Photo by Jim Davidson
However, if Mewhort does what is asked of him and the plays that Tom Herman and Urban Meyer have drawn up are given time to develop, then you will get to see what this offense can do.
With the renewed emphasis that coaches have put on defensive speed, pass blocking requires an offensive lineman to have enough agility to combat a defender who weighs 60 pounds less than they do and runs the 40 a half a second quicker. The staff feels that Mewhort is capable of this, and there has been almost zero concern about whether or not he can handle what will be needed.
Having played on the interior for the extent of his career, he is also very accustomed to run blocking. Playing for Jim Tressel and Jim Bollman, it would be impossible not to get accustomed to run blocking.
Mewhort basically knows every position on the line and should be a calming influence when the team needs it.
What Can Be Expected Of Him
Given that Mewhort is battling exactly nobody for the starting spot, you can expect him to be pretty solid player this season, as he was last season.
When the coaches talk about their concerns, they mention right tackle, but never mention left tackle. Granted, Mewhort has had his issues in pass blocking when we've gotten a chance to see him, but most left tackles are going to have issues blocking Ohio State's defensive line.
One of the good things about being the left tackle in this offense is that there are so many rollouts to the right, that even if he gets beaten, it won't always negatively impact the play.
Mewhort should earn some All-Conference consideration this year, and then possibly even grander consideration as a senior.
What Would the Buckeyes Do Without Him
If something were to happen to Jack Mewhort, then the offensive line would likely have to do some shifting. Rather than simply put one of the two players battling for the right tackle spot at left tackle, the wiser move might be to slide Andrew Norwell from guard to tackle, like he did last season during Mike Adams' suspension.
Taylor Decker and Reid Fragel are still in a competition to win the right tackle spot, and Urban Meyer hasn't exactly been effusive in his praise on where things stand between the two players. I don't know that offensive line coach Ed Warinner would want either Decker or Fragel playing left tackle right now.
The simpler answer would be to move Norwell to the outside and fill the left guard spot with somebody else. None of these solutions are optimal, however, as Mewhort is a very vital part of this Ohio State offense and they will need him on the field if they are going to be as good as they can be.
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