Interior O-Line

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Last updated: 07/04/2012 3:15 PM

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Breaking Down Urban’s Depth Chart: Interior O-Line
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — So far, we have covered a number of key offensive positions for the Buckeyes in our post-spring breakdown of Urban Meyer’s first-ever depth chart at Ohio State.

Meyer has some key players returning at important spots offensively, but he also has some critical questions to answer this fall. Few position were more unsettled heading into the spring than offensive line.

We previously looked at the situation Meyer is working with at offensive tackle , but let’s move inside for a look at the interior offensive linemen.

Pre-spring pecking order:

Corey Linsley
Photo by Jim Davidson
Corey Linsley

It looked like, at least from the outside, heading into spring that Brian Bobek had a chance to be the No. 1 center with guys like Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley and Marcus Hall competing for the two starting guard spots.

Bobek was undersized as a freshman in 2011, but he was still the primary backup to 4-year starter Michael Brewster inside. Brewster had a lot of good things to say about Bobek, but we also knew Linsley and Mewhort were both capable of playing center.

Post-spring depth chart: Linsley at center with Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall at the two guard sports.

Mewhort’s versatility made him a candidate to play just about anywhere on the line, but he ended up at left tackle, which allowed Ed Warinner and the offensive staff to slide Norwell inside to play left guard.

The biggest change was not the fact Linsley emerged as the top center in Meyer’s offense, but that Bobek ended up behind freshman Jacoby Boren and has since transferred to Minnesota.

It didn’t look like Bobek got much of a chance to compete for the starting job, but maybe the staff really likes Linsley, who said Jim Bollman always told him center was his natural position.

Linsley’s move inside opened the door for Marcus Hall at right guard with second-year lineman Antonio Underwood backing him up.

Who is missing?: The Buckeyes added freshman center Jacoby Boren to the mix in the spring and he impressed the coaches enough that they asked him to get surgery on his injured shoulder so he would be ready in the fall.

Andrew Norwell
Photo by Dan Harker
Andrew Norwell

Boren won’t be the only freshman competing on the interior offensive line this fall. He will be joined this fall by 2012 classmates Joey O’Connor and Pat Elflein—two strong, versatile linemen who could play either guard or center for the Buckeyes.

Warinner was lacking serious depth in the spring. The return of Boren, along with the arrival of O’Connor and Elflein, should help solidify things up front for the Buckeyes this fall. It’s a lot to ask those three young guys to step right into the two-deep in Columbus, but that’s the hand Meyer and his staff was dealt when they took over the team.

The Buckeyes could also give Chase Farris a try at offensive guard, though he could also be a tackle. There is talk of Farris moving over from the defensive line this fall, much like Darryl Baldwin did in the spring.

Susceptible to Change or Set in Stone: Not completely set, but getting close.

With all the new guys coming into the mix, the Buckeyes could decide to move some bodies around on the offensive line this fall, especially if they are going to be without left tackle Jack Mewhort for any extended period of time.

Norwell is a guy who could potentially slide back out to play some tackle until Mewhort is back from his suspensions—assuming he has to miss any games—but if everyone is healthy and eligible, the line is probably set, outside of the battle between Reid Fragel and Taylor Decker at left tackle.

O’Connor is a guy who could be in the mix at guard, if the Buckeyes need someone other than Norwell and Hall, but he has a lot of learning ahead of him.

Overall prognosis: We don’t know yet how good this group can or will be. Linsley and Hall were guys who should have probably been starting already, but now they are going to get their chance.

One of the biggest positives of this entire off-season has been Linsley’s mental, physical and emotional turnaround. He is starting to look the part of a starting center, and he has worked hard on his shotgun snaps in order to get the ball back to Braxton Miller.

Norwell should be the perfect fit for a big, mobile guard in Meyer’s spread attack, but we will have to see if Hall is ready to play that role on the right side. He started the first five games of last season at left guard, but was moved back to a reserve role when Mike Adams returned from suspension.

This group was scary-thin in the spring, especially at guard. Walk-on Eric Kramer was the backup to Norwell at left guard, but Meyer has a few more options on the offensive line this fall—not to take anything away from Kramer.

Urban's take: “Corey (Linsley) is a fine player, and he’d be the first to tell you he wasn’t a fine player a year ago. His complete commitment to Ohio State wasn’t there. It is now.”

Related Articles:

Breaking Down Urban’s Depth Chart: Fullback

Breaking Down Urban’s Depth Chart: Wide Receiver

Breaking Down the Depth Chart: Offensive Tackles
Breaking Down the Depth Chart: Tailbacks

Breaking Down the Depth Chart: Tight Ends

Breaking Down the Depth Chart: Quarterbacks


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