COLUMBUS, Ohio — Even though the Buckeyes took the field with dominating players like Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde a season ago, it was undoubtedly the offensive line that set the tone for the Ohio State offense.
2014 Spring Positional Recap: Offensive Line
By Tony Gerdeman
That same dominance will likely not be on display this coming season, but a reasonable facsimile would be more than acceptable. At this point, if offensive line coach Ed Warinner can manage that, then this latest version of the Ohio State offensive line should be sufficient for what Urban Meyer and Tom Herman want to do.\
Photo by Dan Harker
Given what Warinner has been able to accomplish in his first two seasons with the Buckeyes, the confidence is high that the third iteration will be able to live up to the standards which have already been set.
"I'd be a lot more concerned if I didn't believe the talent was there, and I didn't believe in Ed Warinner," Herman said this spring.
"This group of offensive linemen, whether we like to say they're not, is much farther ahead than the group of offensive linemen our first spring. You want to talk about some dudes that needed some molding and some culture. Ed Warinner basically took the weakness of the offense and within 24 months turned it into the absolute hands-down not-even-close strength and backbone of the offense. So the last I checked, Ed Warinner is still the offensive line coach and we're farther along in that room than we were this time two years ago."
Returning Starters: Taylor Decker (6-7 315, Jr.)
Taylor Decker made the move from right tackle to left tackle this spring and looked absolutely capable of playing his new position well. He left the spring being one of just two sure starters on the 2014 offensive line according to Urban Meyer.
Photo by Dan Harker
Not only will he have to do a fantastic job of protecting Braxton Miller's blindside, but he will also need to be a leader on an offensive line that lost four of them from a season ago.
"I just have to be more vocal and lead by example because I can't tell people to do things that I'm not doing myself," Decker said.
"So it's sort of a practice what you preach sort of thing. Do everything right, don't miss workouts, don't be late to things. You've got to be an advocate for the guys that are on your side of the ball. You've got to believe in them and that will help them a lot."
Others Returning: Darryl Baldwin (6-6 307, rSr.); Jacoby Boren (6-1 285, Jr.); Tommy Brown (6-4 310, rJr.); Kyle Dodson (6-6 310, rSo.); Pat Elflein (6-3 300, rSo.); Chase Farris (6-4 300, rJr.); Joel Hale (6-4 310, Sr.); Evan Lisle (6-6 300, rFr.); Billy Price (6-4 305, rFr.); Antonio Underwood (6-3 303, rJr.)
At right guard, Pat Elflein was the second of two offensive linemen to win a starting job this spring. He was fantastic a season ago in limited -- and pressure-packed -- duty, and continued his stellar play this spring. He has the quickness and the power to keep the inside running lanes open, and gives calm and confidence to his coaches with every snap.
Darryl Baldwin took the vast majority of the starter's snaps at right tackle, and he will continue to compete with Evan Lisle and perhaps others throughout camp. This battle is not yet over, which means that neither candidate has played as well as the Buckeye coaches would like.
Tony Underwood took the bulk of the starter's reps at left guard this spring, and took even more of them as the spring went on. He is the best bet to win the starting job this season, but could get a push from Chase Farris or even freshman Demetrius Knox.
The center position was never settled, as Jacoby Boren and Billy Price went back and forth all spring long. The momentum seemed to be headed in Price's direction, but things have been considerably shaken up now with the arrival of Alabama transfer Chad Lindsay.
There are still plenty of questions to be answered, but Ed Warinner feels the only thing missing at this point is experience
"We have some some good young players and some of them are older that haven't played much, but what we lack is experience," he said.
"I think we're going to have enough talent. I know we have a good work ethic. I know they're tough, they train hard so they had a really good off-season in terms of their training and their development, so we've just got to get them up to speed. Experience comes from playing, but do they know what they're doing?
"Do I feel like we're where we were two years ago when I first got here and we were starting with a new group? No, I think we're way ahead of that, because mentally they know where they're at, they're in good shape, we don't have anybody that has a ways to go, so their weights are good, their strengths are good, the demeanor, so it's a fun group to coach, we just lack experience, but we'll be okay."
Newcomers: Marcelys Jones (6-4 345, Fr.); Kyle Trout (6-6 302, Fr.); Jamarco Jones (6-5 315, Fr.); Demetrius Knox (6-4 285, Fr.); Brady Taylor (6-5 290); Chad Lindsay (6-2 302, rSr.)
The Buckeyes signed five freshman offensive linemen in the 2014 class, and two of them enrolled early and participated in spring football. Both Marcelys Jones and Kyle Trout received valuable experience enrolling early, and both showed that a redshirt year would probably suit them best.
A redshirt will not be able to be afforded to each of the incoming freshmen, however, nor is that Urban Meyer's plan.
"Of the five, the two that I see the maturity, Jamarco Jones and Demetrius Knox, are guys that I would like to see [play early]," Meyer said on Signing Day.
"Typically you don't put freshmen in there early, but these guys have mature bodies, and they're fairly mature young men. And you have Marcelys Jones and Kyle Trout and Brady Taylor, a guy from Columbus, impressive guy. Kind of a late comer, he's up to 295 pounds now and a wonderful family, tough guy. I love the guy. I'm really excited he might be a guy that gets in, sneaks in the depth fairly quickly as well."
The new arrival who has the best chance to make the biggest impact is Alabama transfer Chad Lindsay. Lindsay will compete for the starting center spot immediately with Jacoby Boren and Billy Price.
Taylor Decker (6-7 315, Jr.)
Kyle Dodson (6-6 310, rSo.)
Jamarco Jones (6-5 315, Fr.)
Antonio Underwood (6-3 303, rJr.)
Joel Hale (6-4 310, Sr.)
Chase Farris (6-4 300, rJr.)
Jacoby Boren (6-1 285, Jr.) OR
Billy Price (6-4 305, rFr.) OR
Chad Lindsay (6-2 302, rSr.)
Pat Elflein (6-3 300, rSo.)
Demetrius Knox (6-4 285, Fr.)
Tommy Brown (6-4 310, rJr.)
Marcelys Jones (6-4 345, Fr.)
Darryl Baldwin (6-6 307, rSr.)
Evan Lisle (6-6 300, rFr.)
Kyle Trout (6-6 302, Fr.)
Brady Taylor (6-5 290, Fr.)
Report: Alabama Graduate Transfer Chad Lindsay Selects Ohio State
Five for Friday: Freshmen Who Will Be in the Ohio State Two-Deep
Spring's Unanswered Questions for the Buckeye Offense
Underwood Going from Obscurity to Starter
Confidence Abounds as New OSU Offensive Line is Built
Five for Friday: Best Under-the-Radar Position Battles
Baldwin Completing Transition to Offense
Now is the Right Time for Decker to Play Left Tackle
First-Year Offensive Lineman Has Warinner Beaming
OSU Spring Forecast: Offensive Line
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