The Buckeyes are coming off their two best wins of the season, back-to-back victories against ranked foes Michigan State and Nebraska. In both of the victories, left tackle Jack Mewhort, left guard Andrew Norwell, center Corey Linsley, right guard Marcus Hall and right tackle Reid Fragel played big roles. The quintet helped OSU run out the final minutes in a 17-16 win against then No. 20 Michigan State and made plenty of holes for Buckeye rushers in a 63-38 beatdown of former No. 21 Nebraska.
First-year Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is never one to mince words, whether they be positive or negative. On Monday, Meyer said the line is "the whole reason" why Ohio State is feeling good after the last two weeks is because of how the line played.
"Our offensive line is coming on," Meyer said.
Meyer went on to say the line was at one point "non functional," but are becoming one of the best units he has coached.
"Right now this is as good as I thought about an offensive line in a while," Meyer said. "They're playing really well, really playing well."
Things are going well for the starting linemen. The group has jelled into a cohesive unit that spends time together on and off the field. Meyer noticed how the quintet was eating together at Ohio State's victory meal on Sunday.
"The offensive line, they're dudes now," Meyer said. "The good ones, the good offensive lines are always together."
That togetherness came naturally for four of the five members. Hall, Linsley and Mewhort were all members of Ohio State's 2009 recruiting class and entered the Buckeye program at the same time, as did Fragel – through he did so as a tight end.
Norwell joined a year later but meshed in well according to Linsley.
"He's one crazy dude and fits in right in with us," the junior center said.
Linsley said a lack of egos have helped the group come together and stay a tight unit.
"It's all positive reinforcement," he said. "We all know each other. We all feel like we're brothers. I think that's the biggest part about our family and our unit: There's no negative reinforcement within the first five. It's all positive."
Norwell echoed Linsley.
"We're all friends in the O-line," the Cincinnati Anderson product said. "Just being around each other makes us more comfortable with each other. We trust each other to get the job done, and that's what it takes."
The togetherness isn't the only reason the line has found success. Linsley and Norwell both mentioned the efforts of their new position coach, Ed Warinner.
"Coach Warinner pushes us so hard and makes us do our best at everything we do that we kind of have to get together and say, ‘Coach is riding us, but that's his job. It's now our job to be positive and bring us all together.' That's how we get better," Linsley said.
Added Norwell: "Coach Warinner has helped us a lot. He's really intense in meetings and in coaching. He's a perfectionist and wants things done right. That carries into game days. We're working to get him a good result."
In addition to Warinner, working against Ohio State's vaunted first-team defensive line has been beneficial. Going up against players like John Simon, Johnathan Hankins, Garrett Goebel and Nathan Williams on a weekly basis will do that.
"It makes practice hard," Norwell said. "The game days come and it's a little bit easier."
The line's progression and improvement has not gone unnoticed on the other side of the ball, either.
"They have competitive excellence and they go hard every play," Simon said. "I think that's what makes them special. Obviously they're a bunch of tough guys, but they go hard and they're physical. They've very cohesive as a group.
"It's the best O-line that I've ever had to go against."
That's pretty high praise, and Norwell said he wants to see the line continue its recent good play.
"Since we've set the bar up so hard, we have to stay at that high level and keep doing the same," he said.