Ohio State Football: A Look At 2010's Offensive Line
One of the biggest Buckeye weaknesses last season should be a strength in 2010.
With top performers like Mike Brewster and Justin Boren coming back, along with budding stars Bryant Browning and J.B. Shugarts also returning, the outlook at line looks much better than at the beginning of last season.
Questions still remain on the left side, however. Will Mike Adams finally come into his own? Will Andrew Miller beat out the once highly touted recruit? Only time will tell.
With all the talent the Buckeyes have at the skill positions, the success of the offensive line is a must.
Terrelle Pryor can't hit his receivers without protection. Boom Herron can't level safeties without holes. And Brandon Saine can't zoom around the field without space to work with.
But with the talent coming back, it appears that those three will get the support they need. Here's a look at the offensive line for 2010:
Left tackle will be an interesting position battle once fall camp opens.
The blind side was supposed to be secured by Mike Adams a year or two ago, but injuries, suspensions, and lack of development have held him back.
After being one of the most highly praised recruits in the class of 2008 (No. 3 on Rivals), Adams hasn't come close to his potential.
He struggles against stronger defensive ends. The tackle has been known to be overpowered by bull-rushing defensive ends.
But he has the quickness to stop quick defensive ends, and at 6-foot-8, Adams has the reach to neutralize pass rushers with his long reach.
Andrew Miller won't back down, however.
Before going down with the flu last season, it appeared he would secure the position. His illness allowed for Mike Adams and Jim Cordle to finish out the season while he recovered.
While he doesn't have the size and athleticism of Adams, Miller does present the toughness he doesn't have.
Adams might have the upper hand now, but things could change as fall camp opens up.
Imagine if Rich Rodriguez had never went to Michigan.
RichRod rubbed Boren the wrong way upon his arrival, prompting the Pickerington alum to return to Columbus to play for the Buckeyes.
Without Boren last season, the Ohio State offensive line would have been missing one of its main cogs.
Boren provided consistency and production at left guard while the rest of the line struggled to catch up.
The same should be expected from him this upcoming season. After a dominating season in 2009, he's been named first team All-Big Ten by many publications.
With a year under his belt in 2009, expect Boren to continue to blow defensive tackles off the ball all season long in 2010.
An interesting development could happen at backup, too.
If Mike Adams beats out Andrew Miller at left tackle (like expected), Miller could be the primary backup at guard due to his versatility.
If Boren ever needed a break, MIller would be a quality sub to take a few snaps.
Terrelle Pryor is the most highly regarded prospect from 2008. The most productive recruit from the class? It has to be Mike Brewster.
Brewster took over at center in 2008 after Steve Rehrig went down with an injury and hasn't looked back.
He garnered freshman All-American honors that season and was the first member of the "O-Block" recruiting class to make an impact.
Last season, Brewster fought through a severe ankle injury and still managed to start every game in the middle.
With a month of rest before the Rose Bowl, Brewster came into the game with his ankle somewhat healed.
The rest allowed for Brewster and the other linemen to have one of their best performance of the year.
It showed a sign of things to expect in the future from Brewster.
With a healthy ankle and another year of experience at the most mentally-challenging position, Brewster is primed for a breakout in 2010.
His healed ankle will allow the center to blow defensive tackles off the ball much better than last year.
He also will know the calls much better and have much more confidence in himself as he masters defenses.
Brewster has been great for Ohio State so far. He should be even better this next season.
At 6-foot-4, 320 pounds, Browning is an immovable force on the right side of the Buckeye line.
Seeing such a mammoth of a man can't be a welcoming sight to Big Ten defensive tackles. The bulldozer has the size to knock any tackle out of the hole.
Browning might have started his career at right tackle for the Bucks, but his move to the inside is a much better fit.
His size is perfect for the trenches, where he'll be able to move behemoth tackles out of the way for Boom and Zoom.
His speed is also more fit for guard. He has quick feet, but had trouble stopping speed rushers during his sophomore year at right tackle.
With that said, the trio of Browning, Brewster, and Boren on the inside should pave major holes for the Buckeye running backs.
All three have experience and confidence. They've been through the wars of the Big Ten trenches and know what it takes to succeed.
Although he doesn't thrive at pass-blocking, Browning is adequate at stopping rushers from the guard position.
But his pass-blocking isn't something to get too worried about.
Browning's main focus is the bulldoze opponents out of the way. With size, quickness, and experience, expect a big year out of Brwoning.
The second member of the famed "O-Block" recruiting class to emerge, J.B. Shugarts established his himself as a solid contributor on the Ohio State offensive line with his performance last season.
It took a few games for him to break into the lineup, but his growth allowed for Jim Cordle to move to left tackle.
Shugarts provides a mean streak on the right side and is a tremendous run-blocker. Expect to see defensive ends on the right side get driven 5 to 10 yards down field with the way Shugarts blocks.
The biggest knock on Shugarts has been his knack for offsides penalties. The junior was whistled numerous times for jumping the snap count.
But with experience, that problem should go away.
After putting together a quality campaign last season, Shugarts is another offensive lineman poised for a breakout in 2010.
If he continues his dominance in run-blocking and fixes his problems in pass-protection and offsides, Shugarts will establish himself as a top lineman for Ohio State.
His development has even sparked talks of him starting at left tackle, with young phenom Marcus Hall getting the call at right.
Hopefully it won't work out like that, but Hall will provide support for Shugarts at right tackle.
The sophomore out of Glenville is a massive force who saw some action in 2009.
It's unfortunate that he might have to wait until 2012 to get a crack at the starting lineup, but the fact the he's in the mix right now shows his ability.
Even if he won't start, Hall provides substantial depth at right tackle.
With all that said, look for 2010 to be a big year for the big fellas.
The interior is all but established. If Shugarts and Adams come into their own, the line could be downright scary.
Adams provides a huge "if," however. He has the potential to be a high quality left tackle, but hasn't been able to put it together.
His development is essential to the performance of the offensive line.
The line might have all the talent in the world, but could be embarrassed if Adams or Miller can't stop pass rushers on the edge.
In the end, I have faith in Adams this upcoming season. But he's failed to live up to my expectations in previous years.
Overall, Pryor and the other skill positions should thrive with the talent the line has.
Hopefully the linemen can give them the support they need.