COLUMBUS — Ohio State already believed in its depth on the offensive line.
It also would have been more than happy to never actually prove just how much there was this year, and it certainly wouldn’t have signed up to do it at basically every position up front at once.
The Buckeyes got the toughest test imaginable last week at Michigan State with three key veterans and a top reserve missing from the unit at Michigan State. Ohio State had only one returning starter in his normal position, but by the end of the game even he was missing thanks to a knee injury for Wyatt Davis that ended his afternoon. And yet the offense still rolled up more than 500 yards in a blowout victory, providing an undeniable reminder that the future remains incredibly bright and dominant for the Buckeyes in the trenches.
“Coach Stud — Greg [Studrawa] did a great job all week,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said on Saturday. “I thought, watching it, just from again watching in the way I watched it, I thought they battled. Was it perfect? I’m sure it wasn’t perfect. But they did, they battled.
“Having really one guy play the same position they played in the last game, and that was Wyatt [Davis]. Harry [Miller] had to move. Some guys were in their first start, Max [Wray], Matt [Jones], Dawand Jones, and I saw Enokk [Vimahi] in there. It was just great to see those guys battling in there.”
The Buckeyes weren’t perfect, which shouldn’t be expected for three first-time starters or a converted guard making his debut at center. But quarterback Justin Fields was rarely hit by the Spartans, the ground game had massive holes to exploit and an opponent known for its defensive toughness was clearly worn down by what could only be called a patchwork Ohio State unit.
The effort was obviously critical in the short term as it kept the Buckeyes unbeaten and wound up clinching a trip to the Big Ten championship. And that experience should pay off even more down the road as Ohio State found out for sure that there’s plenty of talent waiting in reserve.
What allowed Ohio State to unleash first-time starters at three different positions and still dominate on the offensive line? How significant was that performance for the Buckeyes as they build depth up front? Who stood out the most for the unit as it clinched a trip to the Big Ten title game? Former Ohio State offensive tackle Reid Fragel broke down the film and answered those questions in the latest episode of BuckIQ.
Roll the tape!
Lettermen Row senior writer Austin Ward contributed the editorial content for this post.