That unit had to replace four starters at the beginning of the season, and it showed, but by the end of the year was perhaps the Buckeyes strongest group. The line allowed just five sacks over Ohio State’s final four games and cleared the way for nearly 278 rushing yards a contest over that stretch.
The Buckeyes return four of the five starters from that dominant line, a promising sign that the front five will be in peak form from the start. Still there is one open spot on the line and either fifth-year senior Chase Farris, Urban Meyer’s leader after spring practice, or Jamarco Jones, the talented sophomore and heir apparent at left tackle, will have to find a way to work in to the mix.
Perhaps more than any other position group the offensive line requires multiple players to work as one with a single mistake capable of disrupting the entire unit. Joining that type of well-oiled machine without disrupting chemistry can be difficult. Luckily for Jones and Farris there is a player on the roster with experience in that category.
Senior Taylor Decker was the lone new starter on the offensive line in 2013, joining a dominant group of seniors that included three future NFL starters. The clear-cut leader of the line, Decker said he is more than willing to step in with insight from his experience two years ago if needed, but for now Farris at least doesn’t need it.
“He’s just handled it so well so far that I think he has a great approach to it. I feel like I’ll step in when I need to, but he’s been here longer than I have,” Decker said of Farris. “I think he’s going to have a great year so I’m not going to interfere with something that is going really well for him.”
As Decker said, despite never starting at Ohio State Farris has more time in the program than any player along the offensive line. The fifth-year player did play in every Ohio State game last season and has seen time in 29 total games in his career.
That level of experience puts Farris in a different position than Decker was in when he worked in to a preexisting group consisting of Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall two years ago. The left tackle said that despite the level of experience he was playing alongside in 2013 that was a more difficult challenge than being the only returning starter last season.
“I think it’s harder being the one coming in as a new starter just because that culture is established,” Decker said. “Those guys have already bonded, gone in to battle together and it’s kind of hard to break in to that. Thankfully I was able to do that, but that’s just hard to do. You’re just kind of on the outside looking in.”
So is Farris ready for that challenge?
“Totally,” Decker said. “Chase is already a part of us, I feel like he’s in a different scenario than I was.”