Final Post-Spring Overview — The Offensive Line
By Tony Gerdeman
The key to any successful offense
always starts up front, and a talented offensive line can make any
average offense quite a bit above average. A below average offensive
line, however, can drag down an offense like five lumbering anchors.
The Buckeyes will have the daunting
task of replacing three veteran starters on the offensive line, and
they'll be doing it with a patchwork unit, but one with quite a bit
More than the players, however, a new
scheme and new offensive coaching staff seems to have the program
renewed. A move to more zone blocking has been received well, and
fits the more mobile offensive line that the Buckeyes are looking to
showcase in 2012.
The tackle situation at Ohio State is
going to tell much of the tale of 2012. With Jack Mewhort at left
tackle and Reid Fragel at right tackle, the Buckeyes will be starting
a pair of bookends who will each be playing their first significant
time at the tackle position.
Jack Mewhort Mewhort has always been versatile, and
has worked at tackle before, but now he will have to be the
cornerstone of this offensive line. Fragel certainly looks the part
at right tackle, and has the mobility that Urban Meyer and offensive
line coach Ed Warinner like, but he still has to prove he can handle
his new duties.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Guards Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall
have more experience at their respective positions than Fragel and
Mewhort, and both have also gotten time at tackle. Overall it's a
versatile group, and the staff seems to like where everyone is right
Brian Bobek was thought to have the
upper hand at center prior to the start of Spring practice, but that
was quickly corrected when Corey Linsley opened Spring working with
the first unit.
The bench has work to do, but there are
Mewhort has shown himself to be a very
solid lineman, starting every game at right guard last year, and with
his mobility and size (6-6 310), he sure looks like a capable tackle.
In fact, it could be argued that he was only playing guard because
there were already solid starters at both tackle spots ahead of him.
Reid FragelFragel, on the other hand, is a
question mark. The coaches have high hopes for him, and they have
them for a reason. There is a ton of potential here, but he has to
max out that potential in just one offseason of preparation as an
Photo by Jim Davidson
The interior should be fine, provided
Linsley can handle his chores.
Much of the faith in this offensive
line is focused on the belief that Warinner will be able to do with
this line what he has done with others throughout his career. Also, a
quicker offense will only help the line, as will a lack of third down
play-action passes with just two receivers running routes.
After watching the Spring, it is hard
to really peg where the tackles stand, because defensive end John
Simon had his way with both of them all Spring long.
However, this offense
won't be facing a player of Simon's caliber every week. Fragel still
has his issues with pass protection, but as a whole the unit provided
the quarterbacks with enough time to throw the ball. One of the
positive aspects of this new offense is that the passes come out
quicker, and there are more rollouts, which makes pass protection
The running game, while rarely going to
look good in the spring against an Ohio State defense, looks to be in
good hands. Meyer on more than one occasion expressed great
confidence in his team's ability to run the ball, and do so
apparently at will.
The Spring Game was evidence of this,
as Meyer and Tom Herman were more interested in seeing the passing
game, because they already know how the running game will perform.
other words, if they were worried about the running game, they would
have worked on it more.
The starting five seems to be set,
which is exactly what Urban Meyer said would happen at the end of the
Spring. It would take somebody making a drastic move to change things
now, but with an offensive line that is almost completely new, even
though it's unlikely, anything is possible.
The interior of the line had its
moments this Spring, and it should be a strength come the regular
season. This will be a power running team, and the offense's success
will be based on the interior's ability to take control of the point
The tackles will only get better
through Fall camp, as well as the season. By the time Big Ten play
starts, everybody on the offensive line should be completely
There even seems to be a little bit of
a bench developing. Warinner said back in the winter that he's more
interested in finding eight linemen who can play, as opposed to a
backup at each spot. Basically, he's looking for a backup tackle,
guard and center.
As of now, they found a backup tackle with freshman
Taylor Decker and a backup center in freshman Jacoby Boren. The third guard is sophomore Antonio Underwood, who
got a good bit of time last year.
Overall, it appears that the eight
linemen that Warinner wanted to find have been located, and with
three more linemen hitting campus before the season starts, there's a
chance to improve the overall talent level of the offensive line, and
perhaps even improve their top eight.
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