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Drew Thurman (3:32 pm)

It's not a new revelation that the Buckeyes have struggled on the offensive line under Jim Tressel and Jim Bollman. While Tressel's squads consistently provide the defense and skill position players to contend for a national championship every year, the big guys up front have been the source of much frustration in Columbus. At times they appear out of shape, while at other moments they just look terribly coached. That may sound a bit harsh, but with the amount of big name recruits that have amounted to nothing in recent years, you have to start to wonder what is going on behind the scenes.

All that aside though, there does appear to be hope in 2010.

That hope stems from the way the offensive line played to close the season. If you remember, it was a huge turnaround from how things started. Just go back to the first half of the season, starting with the Navy game. The offense sputtered, much of which can be contributed to the offensive line. It was the defense that really was in a groove, while Pryor was throwing for 100 yards a game and Saine and Herron struggled to get going.

The breaking point happened in back-to-back games against Wisconsin and Purdue. Many forget the Wisconsin game because the Buckeyes won, thanks to defensive and special teams play, but it was a dismal offensive performance. In fact, the Badgers outgained OSU 368 to 184 yards that afternoon. The following week the offense followed up this spectacular performance with a defeat in West Lafayette to Purdue. Don't get me wrong, these games were probably two of Pryor's worst, but the offensive line was awful too. They looked outmatched, lazy, and there seemed to be very little hope that Buckeyes would be able to handle the upcoming schedule.       
A turning point happened on the line and throughout the whole team after that game. Call it leadership, call it new motivation, but whatever it was the offensive line went on an impressive run to close out the season. While Pryor was still only having 60 and 80 yard passing games, the offensive line was able to open the holes for Saine and Herron. What was really impressive to me was the games against Penn State, Iowa, and Michigan. The play calling was incredibly predictable, Pryor was struggling, and Boom and Zoom still got big run after big run. Then to top it all off, the line played maybe there best game in the last several years in the Rose Bowl against Oregon.

That success late in the year should have fans excited for what this line is capable of come this fall. Obviously, the interior of the line is solid. With LG Justin Boren, C Michael Brewster, RG Bryant Browning, the Buckeyes know what they are going to get. All three were anchors on last year's line, and will be again this season. The question mark will be the tackle spots.

At right tackle, I really like the one-two punch of J.B. Shugarts and Marcus Hall. They both rotated there at the end of last year, and did a quality job. While Shugarts as a junior will probably having the starting role come September, I think Hall is the man to watch out for. Regardless, I think the right tackle spot is going to be just fine. That leaves the left tackle spot. Once again Mike Adams and Andy Miller are fighting for this spot, just as they did last year. If you remember though, the staff finally got fed up and stuck Cordle out there to close the season. This time around, Adams has to be the guy. Miller doesn't have what it takes to play out there every down and the staff can't afford to go shuffling things around midseason again. So, as a junior Adams needs to finally live up to his potential. The sack count was terrible last season, especially considering Pryor's mobility, and that has to be fixed. Some of that goes on Pryor for holding onto the ball and trying to be superman, but left tackle hasn't helped.  

So will the offensive line breakout in 2010? I say yes. This is the most talent and depth on the line years, and this unit should have tons momentum on their side after the conclusion of last season. Left tackle is a huge part of the equation though, and that needs to be solidified come fall. If the staff can get Adams to lock down that spot, this may be one of Tressel's best lines ever.
 


Comments

Brandon
05/12/2010 16:05

Don't feel like you're being or sounding harsh at all with regard to being critical of Bollman. He'd have been long since fired at any other program in college football, including the FCS -- fortunately for him, one of his long-time friends is his boss. Well-written article -- I too, have hope that the O-Line will put it together for an entire season this year. LT is the question mark that is critical -- all that has to happen is one big, DE to make it through and lower his helmet into Pryor's spine and bye-bye season, as well as Pryor's career. Let's all hope that Mike Adams can get things together and have a good year. All the pieces are there for a NC run. Go Bucks!

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Stan
05/12/2010 16:49

"If the staff can get Adams to lock down that spot, this may be one of Tressel's best lines ever."

Totally agree.

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buckeyenut
05/13/2010 05:50

I can't blame the line at all for Pryor's sacks - those are him. You said it best...he holds onto the ball forever. They can't be responsible when he runs back and forth and expects protect for 20-25 seconds...

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B-Dolph
05/13/2010 07:47

I live in North Carolina, but from OHIO. I agree that our lineman look like a bunch of out of shape farm boys, compared to the usc and florida's of the world. can we please get a person in there to get our guys in shape and up to par. this is getting old and embarrassing, i cant even argue anynore about how out of shape we look, no wonder everyone in SEC country say we are SLOW, WE ARE!!! PLEASE WORK HARDER--go bucks

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Woody Herman
05/13/2010 08:56

I cannot believe you can write a story and not know the facts.
JB Shugarts played all but one series in Iowa and played the rest of the year solo.
JB had his breakout game against PennState as the ran behind him all day. He was hurt late in the game and Marcus came in. They stopped running to that side.
The Iowa game JB did not start but played from the second series through the end of the game. Michigan he shut down the number 1 draft choice of the Eagles this year and lastly oplayed flawlessly in the Rose Bowl.
Martcus Hall will likely be moved to guard and start after Browning graduates.
We tries to recruit JB but his Dad wanted him playing in the Big 10 and Ohio State won over Michigan.
This is one of the best lineman in the Nation and without injuries it will be clear to see in 2010.
Watch the spring game, watch Michigan, Watch Iowa.
The brealdown in the beginning of the year and all saeason long was the slow and often beat Cordle.
I swear all Ohio writers favor Ohio kids and are blind to what is really happening with the line.
Browning was the man last year by the way not Boren. Boren got slower as the season moved on and Browning was a stud.
No field goal needed if Corle and Boren block on third down but they were beat and the back never made it to the line of scrimmage.
Watch the tape and then look for another occupation

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05/13/2010 09:17

Take a deep breath there Woody...why all the anger? haha.

Anyways...in regards to comments on Browning versus Boren...I think you have greatly diminished Boren and his ability. In fact, he is one of the major reasons the Buckeyes accumulated a lot of big runs at the end of the season on the left side.

I think Browning is an intelligent and solid player, but there is a reason why Boren is on All-American watch lists and not him!

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B-Dolph
05/13/2010 10:22

Just to add to my comments that I made, my wife has finaly gotten into Ohio State football, the reason is becouse she went to a game with me (Illinois at the shoe a few years ago, when we lost it in the 4th) man that sucked! before that she could have cared less about football. Anyhow she said last year when we all sat down during the usc game, "why don't our guys look as buff as the other guys"? now if she can pick up on that, what is the excuse for our coaches, I mean buckeye nation deserves better output from our guys. We fight and argue to the death for our team every year. I think its time they put in the work, or some one needs to at least put a fire under their butts. We have so much talent and such a great fan base, there is NO reson to have out of shape guys that cant stay on the right diet and workout plan! If you think I am nuts, go back and look at tape on our guys and then the teams that beat us, its obvious we are out of big game shape compared to them. Someone let the coaches know that it takes more than talent and size to win the big ones, it takes heart. which is HARD WORK!!! COME ON, GO BUCKS!!!!

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Doug
05/13/2010 10:25

Woody, what are you talking about? Hall played a lot more than one series at RT after the 1st series of the Iowa game. I know he played against Michigan too. If you're going to come on here and bash the writer for not getting facts straight, you should at least get your own right too. These guys do a great job covering OSU, regardless of what state the player is from. They didn't bash Shugarts, just like they didn't bash Brewster for being from Florida.
And I'm a big fan of Shugarts, but how can you state that "Michigan he shut down the number 1 draft choice of the Eagles this year"? I've watched that game a couple of times, and Brandon Graham lined up all over the field and had a really good game. 7 tackles (6 solo), 5 tackles for 42 lost yards and 2 sacks. Including one near the goal line where Shugarts blocked down instead of picking up the end. UM runs a 3-4, so the end has to be tackles' responsibility in that situation.
I for one really like the Shugarts/Hall combo at RT, and you're right that Hall will probably move to guard next year to get them both on the field. Now if we can only work on JB getting the snap count right too.
What school are you from anyway that you tried to recruit him?

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burghbuckeye
05/16/2010 09:03

In regard to being out of shape, it is really weird that our line is consistently out of shape when other positions (especially our defense) are almost all extremely in shape. We are even known for having some workout warriors (john simon, thaddeus gibson, gholston etc..), seems like the workouts shouldnt differ that much between the two lines..

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B-Dolph
05/21/2010 07:04

It's not that the workouts differ, rather who you are compareing them to are different. Most of the D-line are athletes who are built that way, with quick feet. most of the time they just have to put weight on instead of maintaining their weight like the O-line. Most of our O-line have slow footwork looking back at tape, and constantly are gettting beat from the first step. If you have your hands on your hips by the second quarter, that explains it all man. work on having better footwrk (quicker feet) and better conditioning, and the expectations will be met. OHIO STATE always get top recruits for our O-Line, we just need to polish them up better. Dont get me wrong, I am a BUCKEYE to the death and hold it down strong in the south, I would just like better results from our top recruiting classes; and not just beat up on the Big Ten. We have the talent, we just need the attitude of champions, and that comes from hard work year round. Ask woody, and he would agree!

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