COLUMBUS — Across the board, the potential for everybody on the Ohio State offensive line was clear to see.
But it was fair to wonder going into the season exactly how all of those individuals would mesh as a unit, how long it might take for the chemistry to take hold and whether each of those possible All-Big Ten performers would live up to that billing this season.
After all, the Buckeyes were replacing four full-time starters up front and the lone returner missed all of spring practice while recovering from an injury. When it came to training-camp questions, the big guys up front were at the top of the list — but their answer during the first half of the season has been resounding, and it was punctuated with an exclamation point in the physical test on Saturday night against Michigan State.
“I think we learned a couple things about the offensive line,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “One, when it was tough sledding early on they didn’t panic. They kept swinging away. And the second thing, that was a real defensive line that has some really good players there. And I thought they were physical, finishing guys downfield again. And they took a lot of pride in that.
“To run over 300 yards against that outfit is saying something. I think it shows what our offensive line is and what it’s capable of doing. All that means is just more expectations moving forward.”
The rise of the offensive line has been among the most encouraging developments at Ohio State during the unbeaten run through the schedule so far heading into the off date. Considering some of the inconsistencies in the trenches a year ago and all the new faces involved in the rebuild this season, the Buckeyes have clearly out-performed most reasonable expectations in arriving as one of the Big Ten’s best units at this point.
Ohio State made it clear where it stands against the vaunted Michigan State defense, and one drive in particular stands out as one of the most important of the season so far, which Reid Fragel broke down this week on BuckIQ. The Buckeyes asserted their will midway through the second quarter, marching down the field to punch in a touchdown that helped open up a competitive game and then cruising from there — all while riding the success of the offensive linemen.
What has fueled the improvements for the Buckeyes up front? Where can the blocking still get better coming out of the off date? How significant was that performance for Ohio State in the win over Michigan State? Former Ohio State offensive tackle Reid Fragel put on the tape and addressed those topics in the latest episode of BuckIQ.
Roll the tape!
Lettermen Row senior writer Austin Ward contributed the editorial content for this post.