Mangold Likes Being Center Of Attention

Sophomore thrust into starting lineup as Alex Stepanovich's ankle injury lingers.

While Alex Stepanovich is sidelined with an ankle sprain, sophomore Nick Mangold is holding up just fine as OSU's starting center.

The 6-4, 280-pound Mangold had been counting on taking over for Stepanovich full-time next year. Sure, he was getting some playing time when offensive coordinator/line coach Jim Bollman would move Stepanovich to guard. But he moved into the starting lineup for the first time two games ago when the Buckeyes hosted nationally ranked N.C. State.

"It's definitely exciting," Mangold said. "It's been a blast being able to do it. I'm not excited that he got hurt and I'm looking forward to him coming back. It has been a nice opportunity, something that I've been able to learn from.

Mangold, a product of Kettering (Ohio) Alter, surfaced as a key reserve late last season as Bollman began the rotation of moving Stepanovich to guard, mostly in place of Bryce Bishop, on selected series. But starting as a sophomore, for the defending national champions?

"How do you put any words on starting for Ohio State?" Mangold said. "I mean, that's every kid's dream in Ohio and around the nation. It is definitely exciting, and I am looking forward to it later on in the career, however that pans out. But it has definitely been a blast the last two games."

Mangold's starting assignment figures to continue this weekend as the Buckeyes open Big Ten play against Northwestern. He said the Buckeyes are hoping to sustain the success they had on the ground against Bowling Green.

"We want to be a power football team and I think we are right now," Mangold said. "We haven't proved it like we should be so far, through the different weeks and play by play and game by game. But I think we'll be able to show it with the Big Ten starting up here.

"It's a big key to get the running game going. That helped get us in the mind-set that we're going to get it done."

One of the key plays in the win over BGSU's was Lydell Ross' fourth-down burst up the middle for a 33-yard touchdown.

"We watched it and it was kind of like (Jonathan Wells' run in the 2001) Michigan game," Mangold said. "I don't think we blocked it as well as we could have. Lydell was able to see the hole and really exploit it on them. He saw the hole and took it."

Another aspect of the BGSU victory was the fact Bollman inserted backup guards Mike Kne and Adam Olds into the lineup. That allowed OSU to rest the guards and even let Adrien Clarke slide out to tackle in place of Shane Olivea in some sets.

"They're great players behind us in the rotation," Mangold said. "It was nice to see that because that's something we're working on."

Mangold also credited Stepanovich for helping him before and during the games.

"He's definitely helped out a lot," Mangold said. "He's been around so I've been able to ask him little questions on the sideline. He's been there at practice and watching film. He's been a big support. I'm looking forward to him being back."

The coaches are hopeful that Stepanovich will be ready to go following the open week for the key Big Ten game at Wisconsin. But does that mean Mangold will return to the bench, will Stepanovich slide to guard or will they continue to split time at center?

"I don't have a clue," Mangold said. "It's whatever Coach Bollman comes up with. He's the mastermind behind everything. Whatever he comes up with will be perfectly fine with me."

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