Most Important Buckeyes: No. 8 Corey Linsley
By Rob Ogden
This time a year ago, center Corey Linsley came in at No. 4 on our list. He was untested, unproven, and had the task of replacing All-American Mike Brewster, a four-year starter for the Buckeyes.
Linsley being ranked in the top five last year was more a consequence of the importance of the position, and the need for him to step up.
Likewise, his slide down to No. 8 in this year’s rankings isn’t an indication of any decline in production, but rather just the opposite.
When offensive linemen do their jobs well, they usually go unnoticed.
By the end of the season, Linsley had transformed the center position from one of the team’s biggest question marks into one of its most sure things.
Linsley’s breakout season didn’t go completely unnoticed. He was named honorable mention all-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media. He has also been named to the Rimington Award watch list for 2013.
What Makes Him Important
Coach Urban Meyer’s affection for the offensive line is evident.
“Our offensive line is, without question, the heart and soul of our team,” he said at Big Ten Media Days last month.
Specifically, the importance of the center position is obvious. It’s the only position that touches the ball on every snap, and acts as the ‘brain’ of the offensive line, calling out blocking assignments.
It all starts with the snap. A bad snap can spoil a play, a drive, or even a game. As a first-year center in 2012, Linsley had remarkably few of those in 12 games.
Through ten weeks of the season, Linsley had only three errant snaps. The final two games were a bit of a different story, as quarterback Braxton Miller was forced to use his athleticism to corral the ball on multiple occasions.
But it still didn’t turn out to be a bad ratio for a first-year center on a team that snapped the ball 837 times.
Although his official biography says he can bench over 500 pounds, Linsley’s biggest strength might not be physical. The aspect of his game that the coaches praise him for most is his knowledge of the game.
In that aspect, Linsley is the leader of the offensive line.
What Can Be Expected of Him?
Meyer said he would be disappointed if Ohio State’s offensive line isn’t one of the best in the Big Ten.
“I think there's some very good offensive lines in the Big Ten, and Ohio State should be right near the top with those other great lines,” he said.
That starts with Linsley.
The Buckeyes are loaded with playmakers on the offensive side of the football. The best thing Linsley can do in 2013 is get the ball into those playmakers’ hands, and stop anyone from getting in their way.
As a returning starter and fifth-year senior, the margin for error is small, especially on a team with championship aspirations.
What Would They Do Without Him
Meyer has made it clear that offensive line depth is his biggest worry as the season nears, and the center position is no exception.
Without Linsley, the Buckeyes would be forced to go with either sophomore Jacoby Boren or redshirt freshman Pat Elflein.
Boren has 27 career plays from scrimmage while Elflein missed all of last year because of a foot injury.
Remarkably, Linsley started all 12 games for the Buckeyes last year despite nagging injuries toward the end of the year.
Linsley missed all of spring ball while rehabbing his foot, but was expected to rejoin the Buckeyes this week.
Meyer said he expect his center to be ready to go come Aug. 31.
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