Only two starters return on Ohio State's offensive line, but Jim Bollman thinks he has a solid group to work with.
"Those guys have been here a couple years now and it's their time to step up and have an opportunity to do some things," Bollman said. "I look forward to working with them. They're a fun bunch to coach. They're enthusiastic. They run around pretty good. They're pretty good athletes and they're anxious to go. They all had good summers."
One player that won't be helping the Buckeyes anytime soon is junior guard Andree Tyree. He is battling some type of sinus infection.
"Andree had a very good spring," Bollman said. "He had some physical problems this summer that they haven't actually got to the bottom of yet. He is not back with us yet, but he should be back in a few weeks when he gets some of these health issues cleared up."
There is an interesting battle brewing at right tackle. It's currently a three-man race.
"It's Kirk Barton, T.J. Downing and Tim Schafer going for that spot," Bollman said. "It's a situation there where there's three guys who are capable of helping us there and we'll see who ends up looking like the best candidate. And whoever is not the regular guy there, the other two will get some looks at other positions to give us some backup help elsewhere, because all three of those guys can play. So, we'll just have to ascertain where they'll be."
Most feel that Barton will be the starter, but Bollman isn't so sure.
"Tim and T.J. have a little more experience than Kirk," he said. "And Kirk missed some situations in the spring - he was limited with injuries. So, he may be a little bit behind the other guys, but certainly not out of the picture."
"They bring experience," Bollman said. "Anytime you have an offensive line coming back, it's certainly nice to have a couple guys who you have actually coached a couple years. They know the system, they know what to expect and I know what to expect from them. They both worked very hard this offseason and they're looking to get going."
The likely starter at right guard is fifth-year senior Mike Kne. He began his career at Fordham, then walked on at OSU, then earned a scholarship and is now listed as a starter.
"As you say, it's an interesting story," Bollman said. "Since he's been here and been eligible, he's really just been a backup. The first year when he was not eligible (2001), he worked on the scout team and worked hard and did everything we wanted him to do. Then late in that spring year he made some marks and really every season he's been eligible he's worked his way into being a backup and has performed well when he's been in games for us the last couple years. I'm sure he's anxious to have a great senior year."
Sophomore Doug Datish seems like the probable starter at left guard, but nothing is etched in stone.
"I don't know if anyone has really locked down things yet, but I think Doug had a pretty good spring and made some progress, but I think it's a little early to say that anybody has locked down a spot," Bollman said. "I think all the guys expect Rob and Nick to be there in the lineup, but as far as the other spots, you know, there's some things up for grabs."