Ohio State Football: Experienced Offensive Line Will Anchor Strong OSU Offense
At this time a year ago, Ohio State 's offensive line was one of the team's biggest question marks.
The Buckeyes were coming off a historically bad year, and a slow, prodding offense produced just six victories in 13 games during the 2011 season.
When Urban Meyer took over after Ohio State 's anemic 24 -17 loss to the Florida Gators in January 2012, he inherited an out of shape, undisciplined group of offensive linemen .
That group didn't have the greatest start with Meyer and their new position coach, Ed Warinner, either . According to the Columbus Dispatch, three of Ohio State 's offensive linemen were late to Meyer's first team meeting.
“It wasn’t a good way for them to start off with their first meeting with the new head coach and the first meeting with their new position coach,” Warinner said. “It was a wake-up call that we weren’t where we needed to be, and the problems of the past had to stop, and we had to move forward.”
It took Warinner just eight months to whip the unit into shape, and when the 2012 season kicked off, the Buckeyes' offensive line was one of the strongest in the country. Ohio State's rushing attack ranked No. 10 in the country with 242 yards per game, and only seven teams scored more touchdowns on the ground than the Buckeyes.
Meyer talked about the transformation of Ohio State's offensive line last November, "They were unmotivated guys," Meyer said, according to Sports Illustrated."Obviously, they weren't disciplined. They're our most productive group right now. They're completely different human beings."
Four of the five members of that offensive line—left tackle Jack Mewhort, left guard Andrew Norwell, center Corey Linsley and right guard Marcus Hall—will anchor a team with national-title aspirations in 2013.
Ohio State's offense is expected to be one of the best in the country this season, especially with the return of Heisman Trophy candidate Braxton Miller, running back Carlos Hyde and the top two receivers from 2012 Devin Smith and Corey Brown. Not to mention the shot in the arm Ohio State's offense will receive when incoming freshman like Dontre Wilson, James Clark and a host of others reach Columbus this summer.
But it all starts with the big guys up front, which has proved it can open up holes for the team's talented playmakers. Outside of doing their job, Meyer has turned to Mewhort to provide some much-needed leadership to the team.
After the Buckeyes' sixth spring practice concluded, Meyer met with the media and said his returning starters up front are as solid as ever , "I like the offensive line... 80 percent of the offensive line. I don't know who the fifth guy is going to be yet. This group - the starters - have picked up where they left off last year."
Finding that fifth guy to fill the right tackle position vacated by Reid Fragel is Warinner's only pressing task this spring. A pair of sophomores—Taylor Decker and Chase Farris—are battling to join the four returning starters, but whoever wins the job will help lead one of the most explosive offenses in the country.
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report .
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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