Adams' Return Provides Boost For O-Line

Ohio State senior left tackle Mike Adams had to wait 10 months after the Sugar Bowl to play in a game again. Though the journey through that time was unquestionably rough on Adams, his addition back onto the offensive line has been a tremendous boost for the Buckeyes.

As Mike Adams walked off the field from Ohio State's Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas in early January, the left tackle knew he had 10 grueling months ahead of him where he'd be prohibited from playing in a game.

But it was roughly five hours of that 10-month span where Adams' suspension was almost unbearable for the senior left tackle — Ohio State first two losses of the early season to Miami (Fla.) and Michigan State.

"That is the part that makes you question yourself," Adams said. "When you're sitting at home and you're seeing these things go wrong, and you're like ‘Man, I could be out there but I did this and that and I am not.' You know it is your fault you're not out there, that's what really weighs on you."

An all-Big Ten performer in his junior season a year ago, Adams was suspended from partaking in Ohio State first five games of the season for his role in the program's infamous tattoo and memorabilia scandal.

Given the way he performed last year, Ohio State sorely missed the left tackle while he was unavailable, particularly because the inexperience at quarterback has forced the Buckeyes to lean extra-heavily on its rushing attack.

Though Adams was able to partake in the Buckeyes' practices as an integral part of the scout team, the senior said he feels refreshed knowing his hard preparation during the week will lead to a start on Saturdays.

"It is definitely a lot different. It thought about (not playing) every day when I was suspended," he said. "I was thinking how I didn't get to play in a football game since January and that I wasn't going to get to play until October. Ten months is the time gap I had from game to game and to be honest it was really rough.

"It made me question myself at some points," he continued, "but these coaches stuck with me, they were positive with me and I just really couldn't wait to get back to my team and that's what really kept me strong."

Not only was the first five weeks of the regular season unfamiliar territory for Adams, adjusting to losses in two of the first five games was unparalleled territory for the offensive lineman that has enjoyed incomparable success in his time with the Buckeyes.

With Adams out, Ohio State suffered perhaps its worst two offensive performances of the past decade in the losses to the Hurricanes and Spartans, combining for only 387 yards of total offense in both games.

And he was on the couch helplessly enduring the rough start to his final season as a Buckeye.

"When I was at home, I was like ‘I can't even play, what am I doing?' it makes you think about everything, just question everything you think about," he said. "I questioned football, if I was even good enough at some points. It is a mental battle not being able to get out there."

Ohio State bounced back to consecutive losses to open up the Big Ten season with an upset win at previously undefeated Illinois Saturday, a game in which the Buckeyes ran the ball 51 times out of 55 total plays.

Currently enjoying the open week, Ohio State will next host No. 4 Wisconsin, a team that averages over 50 points per game. When asked if the Buckeyes could knock off the Badgers with a similar offensive philosophy employed against Illinois, junior fullback Zach Boren was confident the Buckeyes could pull it off.

"I believe so," said Boren, answering the question. "We're going to go out and try our hardest and get better for two weeks. If you can go out and run the ball 51 times for 211 yards, that's nice."

The Buckeyes weren't successful in running that offensive scheme in its loss to Michigan State, a game in which the Buckeyes managed only 35 yards of offense on the ground.

Adams, of course, was not permitted to play in that game. With the return of the consistent left tackle, Boren said he has seen a considerable increase in the productivity of the offensive line.

"He definitely helps out," Boren said of Adams. "He is a great player. He goes 110 percent every play and he is up there creating huge holes and that's always big for an offense. It's huge to have him back."

There's no telling if Ohio State could even compete with the powerhouse Wisconsin if freshman quarterback Braxton Miller only manages one completed pass like they did against Illinois.

Adams, however said the team is confident as ever in its ability to move the football, even against Wisconsin in a game that will likely dictate how the Buckeyes close out the 2011 season.

"The guys who I am really close with, the offensive linemen of course, they were always telling me that they couldn't wait to get me back and that it is weird not seeing me in the huddle," he said. "I definitely think it might have given some guys something to look forward to, just having another one of your guys back on the field with you.

"This game is the ultimate team game and when you're missing one of your guys and he is waiting in the wings, you can't help but be anxious for them. Now we're ready to close out the season on a high note and I am glad I can be apart of it."

Follow Me on Twitter and find us on Facebook.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories