Adams, O-line Showing Progress

The offensive line will always be a polarizing topic among Ohio State fans, but this year's group is starting to show progress. With junior Mike Adams settling into his left tackle spot, the Buckeyes are hoping to continue to improve in the trenches.

If there was a positive to be found in Ohio State's loss to Wisconsin, Michael Brewster had a pretty good idea where to start looking.

Trailing 21-3 at the half, the Buckeyes came out firing in the third quarter. Their 15 consecutive points would not be enough to complete the comeback, but it proved that OSU was not content to go quietly into that good night. For that, the junior center lauded the efforts of his linemates.

"There's not much to say," Brewster said immediately after the game. "Sometimes you feel like you left it all on the field and just didn't come out with the ‘W.' I left every ounce of everything we had out there. The O-line stuck together and fought our butts off but it's a team effort. We tried to make a comeback and they answered."

The statistics help bear out what Brewster said. After receiving the opening kickoff, OSU held the ball for 11:29 and outgained its hosts by a 161-23 margin. Seven plays into the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes scored to pull within three points.

Subsequent attempts to drive down the field were halted by incomplete passes primarily forced by tight coverage rather than the Wisconsin pass rush.

That is not to say that the Badgers had no success with their pass rush, however. Wisconsin recorded six tackles for a loss and three sacks, two of which came from J.J. Watt. But as the coaches handed out their weekly award winners, they did not name winners for four of six possible categories.

Only an offensive player and offensive lineman of the week were named. Those honors went to running back Dan Herron and left tackle Mike Adams, respectively.

"We're starting to gel a little bit more," Adams said. "It didn't really show too much in the first half of last week's game but in the second half we did some things we liked and we want to keep things rolling so we can get those backs some yards."

The numbers bear out what Adams said. Although Wisconsin jumped out to an early 21-0 lead and held on from there, the Badgers outgained OSU by 25 total yards. While it was below the team's average of 217.3 yards per game, the Buckeyes' total of 155 rushing yards was not even their lowest of the season. That came one week prior in a home victory against Indiana.

Adams in particular appears to have stepped up his game. OSU has named an offensive lineman of the week after each game this season and he leads the winners with three such awards.

"I feel great out there," he said following Tuesday's practice. "I'm out there playing with my guys. You can't be out there scared or you're going to mess up and do something wrong and et someone hurt. Confidence is something that plays a big role, especially the role of an offensive lineman."

That confidence was evident among the offensive line particularly in the second half.

"I think it definitely showed in the second half of the Wisconsin game," said sophomore fullback Zach Boren, who has been named the offensive lineman of the week once this season. "I thought we showed a lot of toughness. I think it's the first time this season we came out and said, ‘we're hitting people in the mouth.' I think the offensive line is growing a lot."

The problem was that the performance came about two quarters too late. Adams said there were no major halftime adjustments.

"Really it's completely a mind-set," he said. "In the second half we came out and we were down. We hadn't been in that position before so we had to come out and try to get on top."

The Buckeyes fought their way back into the game thanks in large part to their rushing attack. Herron picked up 91 yards on 19 carries, four yards shy of his season high. Much of the season has found OSU focused on its pass-blocking, so proving that they can move the ball on the ground was a confidence-builder, Boren said.

"It didn't feel good that we were behind and we were losing the whole time but it gives us a confidence boost that we can run the ball with a long Big Ten schedule coming up," he said.

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