Productive Spring for Offensive Line Has Warinner Sleeping Well at Night
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Spring practice is a time for reaching specific goals. It's why proven guys like Bradley Roby and Jack Mewhort didn't take as many snaps in practice as their teammates. The staff already knows about those two players, and getting more reps for others allows the coaches to find out more about the rest of their team.
Photo by Jim Davidson
From time to time, Mewhort watched from the sideline as Taylor Decker played his left tackle spot and Chase Farris manned the right tackle spot. Decker and Farris spent all spring battling for the only open job on the offensive line, and giving Mewhort a break allowed offensive line coach Ed Warinner to see as much of Decker and Farris as he could.
While they are still trying to figure out who the right tackle is going to be, they are also accomplishing something else.
"We’re always working on developing our depth," Warinner explained.
"That’s one of the things we worked on this spring, was develop our depth, see who those guys are. Bring them along so we know that whoever doesn’t start at tackle, that guy a year from now will probably be a starter.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"That goes to just developing your depth. You develop your depth to where you think those guys are going to be able to be a backup this year, and their future is the next year, whenever the spot becomes available, they’re ready to go."
As they simultaneously find a right tackle and build the depth, they do it with a focus on just how important their roles are. The offensive line is what makes every offense go, and the Buckeyes have high hopes for their offense this season. How fast and far they go will depend on the guys up front.
The offensive line isn't where it needs to be yet, and the offseason and fall camp will still be necessary to get it there. However, the fact that everybody on the offensive line has spent more than a year in this offense is nothing but a positive. They already know the big things, and now they're working on the little things.
"Become better fundamentally because now we aren’t trying to learn our system, we’re trying to perfect our system," Warinner said, when asked what the focus of this spring was.
"We wanted to continue to develop our ability to throw the football, develop our receiving corps, because inevitably if we are good at running the football and we’re good at passing the football, then we’re going to be really hard to stop on offense.
"If we aren’t as good at one as the other, then people can try to load up and stop one and then make you play to the other. So we made a conscious effort to try and improve that area. We took great strides in that. Are we there yet? No, we’re not there yet, but we took strides."
With four starters returning, and two capable battlers fighting for the fifth spot, the offensive line should be one of the positions producing the least amount of stress.
Though for a coach, there is no such thing as a stress-free position. However, what Ed Warinner does have is something that every coach covets – experience, versatility, and most of all, talent.
There are quite a few reasons why the expectations are ramped up for the 2013 Ohio State offense, but those expectations would all be a bit muted if not for the offensive line that returns.
What excites fans is the very thing that gives a coach calm. What the Buckeye offensive line accomplished this spring is a perfect example of that. Not only are there four returnees, but the depth was built with Decker and Farris, as well as Patrick Elflein and Jacoby Boren. There is a lot here to like, which is why Warinner seems so relaxed.
"I don’t really have any concerns that keep me awake at night," he said.
"Other than I hope that they all continue to work as hard as they’ve worked. Because January, February, March, and April we didn’t work like a 12-0 team, we worked like a team with a chip on their shoulder, one that had something to prove.
"So I love that about our kids. If they continue to do that, I feel good about where we’ll be. I mean I hope that every guy has a personal mission to become better, but I don’t lay awake at night thinking 'Oh my God, if this doesn’t happen we’re going to be this, or this, or this.'"
If the offensive line's personal mission has been to allow Warinner to sleep at night, then so far consider this mission accomplished.
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