Ohio State Football: Situation much better than year Slobs were dominant

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 14: Offensive lineman Billy Price
LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 14: Offensive lineman Billy Price /

Fans are expecting big things from the Ohio State football season if the offensive line rounds into shape. Not to worry, the Slobs are ahead of schedule.

The one unit on the Ohio State football team every Buckeye fan seems to be concerned about is the offensive line. It will be just fine and is way ahead of the one four years ago. That group of Slobs turned out to be pretty good didn’t they?

In fact, I’m sure Urban Meyer is much happier with the offensive line situation at the moment than the one in the spring of 2014.

Yes, coach Greg Studrawa has to replace two-year starting left tackle Jamarco Jones and Rimington award-winning center Billy Price. But in 2014 Ed Warinner had to replace All-American left tackle Jack Mewhort and his outstanding center Corey Linsley.

Two guards, Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall, had moved on as well. The depth on the offensive line was so thin coach Warinner had to fill the depth chart with players who began their Ohio State careers on the other side of the ball.

A comparison of how the two deep was put together in 2014 and the situation today will show a stark contrast between the two.

Taylor Decker started at right tackle in 2013 as a sophomore and was moved to the other side of the line. Pat Elflein, who saw playing time the previous season due to an injury situation, moved into the starting left guard spot. That was it as far as experienced players coming back.

Redshirt freshman Billy Price was just converted from defensive tackle to left guard during the spring and won the starting job. Another former defensive lineman Darryl Baldwin, the backup left tackle in 2013, started on the right side.

Other converted D lineman became backups, Chase Farris on the right side at both guard and tackle and Joel Hale at left guard. True freshman Jamarco Jones backed up Decker.

This spring, two-year starting right tackle Isaiah Prince has been moved to left tackle to protect the quarterback’s blind side. Michael Jordan will be the starting left guard for the third year in a row.

Demetrius Knox took over at right guard for the injured Brandon Bowen last season and performed well. He is the leader for the starting spot at the moment.

Thayer Munford was the backup right tackle last year and has been one of the stars on the Ohio State football team during spring practices. This young man looks like he is going to be a good one.

As far as depth is concerned, it appears to be the best during Urban Meyer’s tenure.

Joshua Alibi is again the second team left tackle and there is a scramble to back up Jordan at left guard. Matthew Burrell, Gavin Cup and Malcolm Pridgeon are all in the mix.

At right guard, Wyatt Davis, the No. 1 guard in the 2017 recruiting class, is pushing Knox. If Brandon Bowen doesn’t regain his starting position, it has been said he will be competing for Mumford’s spot at right tackle. Coach Studrawa has talented players competing at every position and there is no need to bring players over from the defense to fill in.

Now for the biggest concern Buckeye fans have, how do you replace a Rimington Award winning center? It was a similar situation in 2014 when Linsley had to be replaced. While he didn’t win the Rimington Award, like Price and Elflein did, Linsley would go on to be named to the PFWA All-Rookie team that same year so he was pretty good.

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Jacoby Boren, a former three-star Columbus area recruit, had backed up Linsley for two years and stepped into the starting role seamlessly. Will another local product do the same this year?

Since Brady Taylor has been the backup center for three years, some wonder if he is capable of taking over the starting role. Seriously, what coach would have started Taylor over the senior Boren, or Elflein and Price who were voted the top centers in the nation.

And don’t you think Taylor learned a few things from those guys?

But if Taylor doesn’t wrap up the starting position, Josh Myers, the No. 2 guard in the 2017 recruiting class probably will. It has been reported that Burrell is also in the mix and Matthew Jones, the Number 1 center in the 2018 class, is already enrolled and competing.

I have a feeling everything will be fine at the center position during the 2018 season.

Next: Defense ahead of the offense simply a 'Rite of Spring'

You never know how well an offensive line will develop during the course of a season and I’m not saying this year’s line will be as strong as the one that powered the Buckeyes to a national title. Just that there are more pieces of the puzzle in place this year than the one in April of 2014, with plenty of talented players pushing the starters. That’s why I think the offensive line will be just fine, and possibly could become a dominant one.