Cordle's Return Sparks OSU O-Line

Plenty of criticism following Ohio State's loss to Purdue last week fell on the shoulders of quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Members of the offensive line didn't do their quarterback any favors, however, and with Jim Cordle back in the lineup the Buckeyes had a more productive day in the trenches.

There might be a little bit of mixing and matching on the Ohio State offensive line next week – at least for the first play of the game.

Given the way things have gone in recent weeks, it might be hard to tell.

When the Ohio State offense took the field against Minnesota, senior lineman Jim Cordle lined up at the starting left tackle spot vacated by an injured Mike Adams. In the process, Cordle could now claim starting experience at four of the five offensive line spots. Still left on the board for Cordle is right guard, where junior Bryant Browning has comfortably settled into his role this season.

That is, unless Cordle gets his way when New Mexico State comes to town next week.

"I think next week (Browning) made a deal with me that the first play we were going to switch so I could get all five," Cordle said with a laugh.

Regardless of where he was playing, Cordle was simply happy to talk to reporters following OSU's 38-7 victory against Minnesota. The senior's most significant playing time since suffering an ankle injury in week two against USC went along with the Buckeyes putting up a season-high 270 yards on the ground.

"It felt great to get back out there and it feels good right now to be bruised and battered after a game," Cordle said. "I forgot what it felt like almost."

One week earlier in a 26-18 road loss to Purdue, Cordle saw his first action since the USC game. His one series at left tackle resulted in a quick three-and-out possession, and Cordle said this week that his play in that game reflected the fact that he was not still fully healthy.

The same could be said for the OSU offensive line as a whole. Two days before the game, head coach Jim Tressel said starters Justin Boren (left guard), Michael Brewster (center) and Adams were less than 100 percent healthy.

Boren and Brewster played, but Adams arrived to the game in street clothes. Tressel said the sophomore was bothered by what appears to be a knee injury before Wednesday's practice, and his inability to practice the following day meant he would be out of action against the Golden Gophers.

Tressel did not disclose the nature of the injury. Offensive line coach Jim Bollman was equally mum on the topic but did say that the coaches will know within the next day or two if Adams stands to miss significant time.

Cordle was not the only player to return to action on the line. Junior Andy Miller, who started the first two games of the season at left tackle before giving way to Adams, missed two games with the flu but returned at left tackle against Minnesota.

"There's a lot of injuries in football, so it was something we had to deal with," Browning said. "In practice, we always rotate guys around so guys know a bunch of positions. This week Mike was down, so Jimmy Cordle and Andy Miller stepped in there and did a great job. When Saturday comes and something goes wrong we're confident in the guys to step up and play the position well."

Brewster did not spend the entire game at center. The sophomore was battling an ankle sprain for the Purdue game and was spelled during the fourth quarter by Cordle, who said he took the majority of his reps this week at center. Miller had an appearance at left tackle, while freshman Marcus Hall saw time at right tackle prior to the team's wholesale substitutions in the fourth quarter.

Had Adams gone down during the previous two weeks, neither Cordle nor Miller would have been able to be full-time replacements. Cordle said he would not have even attempted to play against the Boilermakers if not for the injuries being suffered across the line.

"Those guys got hurt so it was like, ‘All right, maybe I should go this week,' " he said. "I went in and didn't do so good so they didn't think I was ready so I didn't get another series. I had another full week of practice (this week)."

Despite the shuffling of personnel, the line appeared more cohesive than it had in the loss to Purdue. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor was rarely running for his life, and the result was 343 yards of total offense from the sophomore.

In addition, the Buckeyes put up 509 total yards. That marks more yards than in the team's past two games combined (471) and is the second-best total this season behind the 522-yard explosion against Toledo in week three.

"I thought the protection was better," Brewster said. "Last week I just don't think everyone was on the same page. We've got some guys dinged up but I thought the protection overall was pretty good. We ran the ball pretty well too."

OSU's 270 rushing yards were a season-high. Perhaps most importantly, however, was the fact that Pryor was able to have time to throw the ball down the field – a fact that kept the Minnesota defense from thinking solely about stopping the rushing attack.

"When it's a pass play, it's our job to protect the quarterback," Browning said. "Last week we didn't do that to the best of our abilities so we knew this week we had to step it up, do the right things, make the right calls and block the right people. I think today we did a better job than last week."

As for switching spots with Cordle next week, Browning laughed and said, "I heard Jimmy is working on that. Whatever. I don't know about that for sure, but whatever happens, happens."

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