COLUMBUS – Carlos Hyde immediately deflected the suggestion that he is now “The Man” in Ohio State’s offense and heaped praise on his offensive linemen.
“I would like to give all credit to my offensive line. They did an unbelievable job today. I’m proud of those guys,” Hyde said after Ohio State’s 34-24 win over Iowa last Saturday.
It’s the sort of things running backs do all the time. It’s like a reflex action or as if they’re reading from a script.
Hyde’s words were more than routine, though. He’s hardly alone in tossing compliments in the direction of Ohio State’s offensive linemen. They’ve been almost universally applauded as the most consistent unit for the No. 4 Buckeyes in their 7-0 start.
Coach Urban Meyer called them his favorite guys on the team after the Iowa game. Four of the starting linemen were graded as “champions” by OSU’s coaches and the fifth received honorable mention in that game.
The five starting linemen – center Corey Linsley, tackles Jack Mewhort and Taylor Decker and guards Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall – have cleared the way for OSU to average 45 points and 493 yards a game. Those numbers rank No. 1 and No. 3 in the Big Ten and No. 7 and No. 20 nationally.
“It’s a strong unit that has a lot of camaraderie. They’ve played a lot of games together, and it’s a lot of fun to watch them do their thing out there,” Ohio State offensive line coach Ed Warinner said.
Linsley, Mewhort, Norwell and Hall are returning starters from last year. Decker, a sophomore, is in his first year as a starter.
Decker has filled the right tackle slot nicely after a rough start in the opener against Buffalo. But even that game might not have been as bad as it looked, Warinner said.
“If you assess the game, it wasn’t 20 bad plays, it was three. But three bad plays for a corner or three bad plays for a tackle, everybody knows about it. They don’t know about the other 65 that were pretty decent.
“Now he’s confident. He feels good about himself and so do we. Things are good,” he said.
Mewhort said, “As a unit I think we work very hard. We do a lot of things right on and off the field. Coach Warinner is obviously an awesome coach who is good with controlling the herd that is the offensive line. It just boils down to hard work. That is something we embrace as a unit. We know we’re not a finished product and we’re well aware of what we have to do to get where we want to go.