Datish Solidifies Center Position

Senior Doug Datish is a three-year starter on Ohio State's offensive line, but this is his first year as the starting center and he has played well. We caught up with Datish at the weekly press luncheon on Tuesday to get his thoughts on the offensive line, the upcoming game against Minnesota, freshman running back Chris Wells and more.

Ohio State senior Doug Datish continues to be solid in his first year as the starting center. Datish was OSU's starting left tackle last year and started most of the season at left guard in 2004. Therefore, he had plenty of game experience, but it's a little different being a center and basically being the quarterback of the O-line.

"It's an important position because I have to make all the calls and stuff like that and I think I've done a pretty good job," Datish said. "It's something I'm constantly working on and I feel like I'm improving each week and I just want to finish out this season strong."

If someone was asked to name the Buckeyes' best offensive lineman this year, they might be hard-pressed to come up with an answer. Datish is a captain and he would definitely be in the discussion. As would senior right guard T.J. Downing. Sophomores Alex Boone and Steve Rehring have also played very well at left tackle and left guard, respectively. But maybe the best of the bunch is right tackle Kirk Barton. He was named OSU's Jim Parker offensive lineman of the week for his strong performance against Indiana.

"I think Kirk got it for the second week in a row this week and that's pretty good for him," Datish said. "We kind of joke with each other and call whoever wins the award ‘Jim' all week. It's kind of a motivating factor for us and we have fun with it."

Datish talked about what has made OSU's offensive line a solid unit so far this season. Many are calling it the best of the Jim Tressel era.

"As you work throughout the years, having a good O-line is a combination of things," Datish said. "The group working well together (is important) and even though we've been switching guys in and out, we're still able to do that. And I think that's a credit to Coach Bolls (offensive line coach Jim Bollman) and the players for coming together and working with all the combinations and it's working out well."

Datish graduated last winter with a degree in military history. He is now in graduate school and has a deep passion for studying wars and other aspects of the military.

Datish was asked if he enjoys studying any particular wars.

"It was World War II for the longest time and now it's Vietnam because one of my teachers here at Ohio State is a Vietnam vet," he said. "He really got me into it and showed me the real story of Vietnam."

Datish has been following military history for as long as he has been playing football.

"Since I was a little kid I was watching war movies," he said. "Patten is my favorite movie. And then I got here and discovered there were also books about wars."

Ohio State is right where it wants to be at this stage of the season with an 8-0 record and the No. 1 ranking in the country. Most people expected the team to be very good this year, but Datish was asked if he thought the Buckeyes were a national championship-caliber team entering the season.

"Everybody questioned the defense because we already had the offense and I was never in doubt because I played against these guys and they've really shown up this year and proven everybody wrong," he said. "They've proven the big question mark to be not true because our defense is playing really solid.

"I knew we had the talent on offense and I knew we had the talent on defense, it was just they were unproven. We came together and we're playing well and we've got to keep doing that."

There is already a lot of talk about the Nov. 18 showdown with Michigan and how there will likely be a bid to the BCS championship game on the line. But Datish doesn't want to hear about the Wolverines yet.

"You guys are stoking the fire for that game," Datish said. "I don't care. Right now I don't care because Minnesota is the main focus and if we don't win this game then it doesn't matter what we do next week and the week after and on the fateful day. It's just something for you guys to talk about until that game."

With the Buckeyes playing three teams with losing records leading up to the UM game, Datish was asked if it's difficult to stay focused on the task at hand.

"No, it's not hard to stay focused," he said. "If you've played in the Big Ten, you know every team is tough and every team is going to hit you hard and every team is going to try and beat you. If you're not prepared, anybody can beat you."

The Buckeyes' offense was the model of balance and production against Indiana with 270 rushing yards and 270 passing yards. Datish said the team talked all week about establishing a better ground game.

"Running the football was the big point of emphasis last week and we worked on that all week," he said. "We didn't run the ball as much as I thought we would going into it, but we still got a lot of yards and our backs did a good job."

Datish has been impressed with true freshman tailback Chris Wells. And not just what he's doing on the field, but the way he carries himself off the field.

"I remember when I was a freshman I couldn't figure out what was up and down," Datish said. "And he's out there making great plays and doing great things. His maturity level is such that I don't even think of him as a freshman. He is like a veteran already and that's a credit to him and a credit to the coaches."

Datish said that Wells meshed well with the team pretty much from the moment he arrived on campus last spring. Wells was the No. 1 recruit in the nation, but the older players were impressed with his humility.

"Yeah, (Antonio Pittman) kind of showed him the ropes I'm sure and Pit's a real nice kid and a good person and Beanie has kind of fed off what Pit does," Datish said.

Datish also gave his take on freshman wide receiver Brian Hartline, who won OSU's special teams player of the week for the second game in a row. Hartline doesn't look like someone that would be a great special teams player, but he is standing out each week thanks to his blend of speed and fearlessness.

"He's a tough kid," Datish said. "If you see him blocking down there as a wide receiver, he's out there cutting guys and driving guys until the whistle. He does a great job and he's got that mentality to do the best he can and just hit somebody every time he's on the field. He really showed what he was made of last week."

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