Breaking Down the Rose Bowl: Battle of the Offensive Lines

Keith Becker uosportsdude.comCorrespondent IDecember 21, 2009

Continuing with position breakdowns, today I’ll go over the offensive lines. If you missed yesterday’s, you can read about the tight ends here .

Analyzing skill positions is easy. Those guys hog the cameras, do flashy celebration dances and attract the affection of all the coeds (and sometimes even faculty) on campus.

Everyone knows about them.

But the guys who go unnoticed, the guys who allow for the skill players to do what they do, those are the guys in the trenches. Those are the guys who win games.

They may not be the sexiest  or most attractive, they might even have unsightly facial hair or excessive back hair, you would probably even let own a loud grown if you were forced to sit between them on a cross-country flight, but dammit, they win games.

How often do you hear someone say, “Dad, all I want for Christmas is a game-worn Jordan Holmes jersey.”

Welcome to the life of an offensive lineman.

I don’t like that. No, not because I feel bad for them, but because now I have to do actual research in evaluating which team boasts the better collection of 300+ pound beasts.

And there is nothing lazier than a college student on winter break. Trust me.

But I toughed it out. I’m sure you will thank me later.

Coming into the season, ranked both Ohio State and Oregon among the best in the country, with the Buckeyes at 11 and the Ducks at 16, respectively.

Up until last year, tOSU was known for its physical, unimaginative, run the ball down your throat style of play. Just push your guy harder than he pushed you – offensive lineman loved it.

But once Jim Tressel decided to change to the spread-option for Terrelle Pryor, it’s taken a while for everyone to get on the same page.

You can’t expect to completely change your style of play and have it work right away. You have to recruit different players and coaches have to learn what they’re doing. (You’ve almost got it Jimmy, just keep watching the film)

Look at Michigan, they were trying to run the spread with Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan. At least Ohio State had Pryor.

If you look deeper, the Buckeyes have fallen all the way from second in the Big Ten in yards per game in 2006 all the way to eighth in both 2008 and 2009.

You can’t teach agility to those big, hulking farm boys over night.

Oregon, meanwhile, is all speed, even on the line.

Only one Duck checks in at over 300 pounds, while all five of the Buckeyes tip the scale.

After losing two starters to the draft and two to graduation last season, it took Oregon all three non-conference games for the newbies to get into rhythm.

Jeremiah Masoli was sacked five times in the first three games and just three times since then.

As well as protecting Masoli, the line has opened endless holes for running back LaMichael James, who leads the nation in yards per carry at a tick under seven.

Bo Thran and Jordan Holmes have admirably replaced Max Unger and Fenuki Tupou, while C.E. Kaiser, Mark Asper and freshman Carson York fill out the rest of the line.

If Thran and Co. can give Masoli time in the pocket and open lanes for LMJ, this game is as good as over. Oregon wants to make it a shootout, and if they can, Ohio State doesn’t stand a chance.

Since total offensive production is the easiest way to evaluate the position, I have to give Oregon the edge.


Oregon 8, Ohio State 7.

Total: Oregon 41.5, Ohio State 35.

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