COLUMBUS — Ohio State’s offensive line has come a long way this season. Just listen to coach Urban Meyer if you want to know how far.
During spring practice, he called the offensive line “non-functional.” But now he’s unabashedly positive in his assessment of that group.
“The reason we’re where we’re at today, feeling good after a big win, is because of the way the offensive line played,” he said on Monday about Ohio State’s 63-38 win over Nebraska last Saturday night.
“Right now, this is as good as I’ve felt about an offensive line in a while. They’re really playing well,” he said.
One of the traditions Meyer brought with him to Ohio State from Florida is a victory dinner after each win.
Center Corey Linsley is a fan of that addition to OSU’s program.
“It doesn’t really matter what’s on the plate, it’s the fact that it’s a victory meal. The idea of it is a great motivator,” Linsley said.
“It’s a great time to enjoy the win with our teammates, to have everybody there, everybody who contributed to the win eating the same meal. The offensive line last night, we were all laughing and joking around. The coaches are there laughing and talking about the game. It’s nice to have that late-night dinner where we can all kick back and kind of reflect on the week,” he said.
Earlier this week, Linsley reflected on how far the offensive line has come and how Meyer and line coach Ed Warinner turned them around in just a few months.
“He was a cool guy, easy to talk to, good dude when I first met him,” Linsley said about Warinner. “Then they (Ohio State’s coaches) all kind of found out about the offensive line, not that he didn’t know coming in, but Coach Meyer really exposed our reputation as soft, lazy, not playing up to our ability, whatever, and the true Coach Warinner came out — the motivator, the screamer.
“He’s a yeller and a motivator, that’s what he is. It’s made us all better. I guess the first impression in winter workouts was, ‘Man, this guy is getting on me.’ I wasn’t really sure if I liked him or not.”
Linsley says the sources of last year’s offensive line problems might not have been what many people thought, though.
“A lot of people want to blame the coaches and it wasn’t the coaches at all. We weren’t soft and lazy a year ago. I was, but I don’t think a lot of other guys were. It was kind of like a year of transition and that got into the heads of a lot of people, I think.
“You look at guys like Mike Adams and Mike Brewster playing in the NFL now and J.B. Shugarts, tough dude, he’s going to get picked up eventually. I wouldn’t consider any of them lazy or soft.
“I guess our production numbers didn’t equal out to the level of recruitment we had here and people want to attribute that to being lazy and soft,” he said.
While OSU’s five starting linemen — tackles Jack Mewhort and Reid Fragel, guards Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell and Linsley — have earned Meyer’s stamp of approval, their back-ups have not.
“Our backups are non-functional. If something happens, if a shoestring breaks, we’re going to call timeout. We just don’t have the depth there,” he said.
Ohio State is down to 76 scholarship players and is feeling the effects of being nine short of the maximum of 85.
“We’re feeling the scholarship reduction. Anytime there is a transition in the coaching staff there is a transition in players and we’re feeling that in a big way. When we lost a couple D-linemen it hurt us bad. It doesn’t show up until somebody gets a turf toe or something,” Meyer said.