Offensive Line Pulling Its Weight

The Ohio State offensive line received plenty of criticism after the Buckeyes' loss to Virginia Tech, but the group has had consecutive good weeks and is playing well.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer typically names his players of the game from the Buckeyes’ previous contest during his Monday press conference. Usually he names one or two players to represent the offense, defense and special teams.

This Monday, however, Meyer named six offensive champions – five of whom were the starting offensive line. Left tackle Taylor Decker, left guard Billy Price, center Jacoby Boren, right guard Pat Elflein and right tackle Darryl Baldwin. According to Meyer, all five played more than 90 plays in the 50-28 win over Cincinnati and helped spark an offense that piled up 710 yards.

Better yet for Ohio State, the line only allowed one sack. The group was maligned after the Buckeyes’ loss to Virginia Tech, during which the Hokies sacked redshirt freshman QB seven times.

Since that loss to VT, Barrett has only been sacked once in two games.

“You can see it in their eyes, the confidence they have,” OSU offensive line coach Ed Warinner said. “They feel that they can go out and play and they know how to adjust to the little things that happen in a game. They can make sideline adjustments and that is all a process of comfort and confidence and just playing.

“That process is happening, and we just need it to continue to happen as we go into Big Ten play.”

Baldwin said the unit’s chemistry is leading to improved play.

“We’ve played a couple of games together now. We’re feeling more comfortable together,” the fifth-year senior said. “Coach Warinner is just trying to keep everybody engaged. The offensive line is about getting in a groove, especially with the center and guards. You have to trust each other. We’re just trying to build as much trust as we can.”

The center and guard positions have developed a rotation of four players for three spots. While Price, Boren and Elflein have started each of Ohio State’s four games, junior Chase Farris has found his way into the mix. Farris played several series against the Bearcats, with Elflein moving to center and Boren to the bench.

Warinner said the group of six is what Ohio State is currently going to go with, but there could be another player finding his way onto the field. Senior Joel Hale, a three-year letterwinner on the defensive line how moved to the offense this season, is getting close.

“I’d like to see if we can start factoring him into the rotation more as well,” Warinner said. “(The rotation is) probably six, heading toward seven maybe if we can get there.”

The offensive line took plenty of criticism after the Virginia Tech game, but perhaps some of it was unjustified. Six of the nine sacks allowed by the group this season came in one quarter – the fourth quarter against Virginia Tech when the Buckeyes attempted a desperate rally against the Hokies’ bear defense.

“The only people that don’t have confidence (in the line) are other people outside our building,” Warinner said. “I have great confidence in them. They have been playing extremely well. They have confidence. They’ve always had confidence.”

Even so, Baldwin said the recent weeks have been good for the line and the Buckeyes.

“We needed it a lot,” Baldwin said. “We’ve been getting a lot of criticism this year about how young we are and inexperienced, and just to see a game like that come together where we were getting yards on the air and on the ground, it’s just adding to the confidence that we already had.”

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