It is a stigma that continues to surround the Buckeyes and offensive line coach Jim Bollman even now, two seasons removed from the debacle in the Arizona desert. It is a stigma that sophomore Michael Brewster, who enters his second season as a starter on the offensive line, is tired of hearing.
"I just want to take some heat off of Bollman's back," he said. "I feel like he takes some heat from the media and the fans and I feel like it's not fair because he's not controlling what people are doing on the field. He gets us ready. It's just a few of the guys on the field who get it done and he can't help that. This year we're going to make sure that everyone sees how he is."
Last year's opening-day starting lineup featured Boone, Steve Rehring, Jim Cordle, Ben Person and Bryant Browning. That quintet averaged 317.8 pounds per person according to the 2008 media guide, with Rehring taking top honors at a listed 345 pounds.
This year, Cordle has taken Browning's right tackle spot with Browning sliding to right guard. Brewster has held down the starting center spot, and Justin Boren will be the left guard. Left tackle remains a question mark, but junior Andy Miller appears to have the inside track on the starting job heading out of fall camp.
That quintet averages 299.8 pounds according to weights in the 2009 spring media guide. Brewster's hope is that it will make for a leaner, meaner and more nimble offensive line this season.
"I think we're a lot trimmer," he said. "(Browning) has trimmed up a lot too. He's down to 301, 302 range and he used to be at 315. I feel like we're right around the 300 (mark), and Justin Boren is a freak and strong as an ox. I feel like we're going to really be able to get moving on D-linemen this year."
Browning is listed at 312 pounds in the media guide for the second consecutive season, but he said he's cut down on his body fat and lost about five pounds from last season. The junior said he had not heard criticism of the line being overweight in years past.
"I feel like our strength coaches do a great job of working us out year-round so we can be in tip-top shape," he said. "Our conditioning tests are the toughest I know of and we did a great job of passing that and we work hard in the weight room all year round."
This season, no player on the line found himself running endless gassers in an effort to drop weight like Rehring – who came in at 355 pounds – did last summer.
Bollman has spoken in the past about how each player has a certain weight he needs to shoot for that is contingent on how strong he is. A player who weighs 250 pounds could bench press 600 pounds and it would not matter, he said, because he would get thrown all across the field.
The key is to play at the optimum weight. As a result, senior lineman Andrew Moses said he has not dropped any weight from last season.
"Maybe it was an emphasis," he said. "I was never one of those guys in that situation and it's dealt with person-by-person. For me, it was, ‘Don't lose any weight.' "
Sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor said he feels this year's offensive line looks quicker than the one he lined up behind last season.
"They're a lot slimmer and a lot leaner," he said. "I told them the other day they look good. You can tell Coach Bollman is getting them pretty hungry and he's working on them real hard. I'm excited to see the line, how they do."
Rather than sheer size, what it might come down to is a different attitude with which to approach the game. When asked if he saw things from last year's line that made him angry, Brewster responded, "no comment.
"We really want to prove this year that it's not (Bollman) and we're going to have a good solid year."