Providing the Push – Offensive Line [2010 Season Preview]

Bruised and battered, the Ohio State offense compiled 66 yards rushing, gave up five sacks and lost to unranked and outmanned Purdue. It was their second loss of the young season. Hope of another Big Ten Title looked bleak. It was the worst performance by an Ohio State offensive line that I’d witnessed in some time. Often times the Purdue defenders came into the backfield unblocked or simply bullied their way past reeling Buckeye lineman.

Let’s step back a couple years prior…

In 2008 the Ohio State football team had one of its best recruiting classes ever. The class was known as the Brew Crew. Headed up by center Michael Brewster the class was made up three five-star OL talents and given the duty of protecting the most talked about football player in recent memory, Terrelle Pryor.

Brewster helped to recruit Mike Adams (LT) and J.B. Shugarts (RT) among others. And like Pryor, this group often received an unfair amount of hype which they did not live up to, nor could live up to based on expectations put upon them by the Ohio State fan base. As freshmen, they struggled when given playing time and as sophomores they ended the season far better than they started it. More on that later…

Now juniors and seasoned veterans much is expected of them yet again. Ohio State will be regarded by most as the #2 team in the country come preseason voting and this group of offensive linemen has a lot to do with that lofty praise. It’s been a long road for them.

This group is losing one starter (Jim Cordle) from last season’s line which seemed to improve with every game last year. In the first seven games of the year, Ohio State was pretty tough to watch offensively. They were 5-2 and didn’t have an offensive identity. There offensive line was bullied against Purdue and caused Terrelle Pryor to become a turnover machine. How did this unit respond after being embarrassed by the Boilermakers? They ran the table and dominated the Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl. Let’s take a look at the production from the running game and protecting the QB from last year:

Offensive Output, 2009
Category Weeks 1-7 Average Weeks 8-13 Average
Rushing Yards 157 240
Rushing Average 4 4.8
Sacks Allowed 1.85 1.8

This group tacked on just about 80 yards per game rushing and slightly reduced their sacks given up per game against some of the best talent in the country. They did this against Penn State, who at the time got to the QB more than any team in the country, Iowa who was a BCS Bowl winner and Oregon, the Pac 10 Champion in the Rose Bowl. Both Iowa and Penn State were top 10 defenses in the country.

After the Purdue game, this group could have packed up their tents and continued their uninspiring performance. What did they do? They punched the rest of the Big Ten in the mouth, won the Big Ten Conference Title and did the same to the Mighty Ducks of Oregon. Might as well have changed Oregon’s fancy Nike uniforms from their bright, vibrant mix and match colors to one that featured helmets littered with flapjacks, because the #1 team from the Pac 10 were pancaked all game long. I think at one point I saw Brewster pouring syrup all over beaten up Oregon defensive lineman.

Offensive Line Depth Chart
Pos: Projected Starter Will See Playing Time
LT Mike Adams Andy Miller
OG Justin Boren Connor Smith
C Michael Brewster Jack Mewhort
OG Bryant Browning Corey Lindsay
RT J.B. Shugarts Marcus Hall

I’m not the only one that believes OSU’s offensive lineman deserve some props this year:

  • Michael Brewster
    • Outland Trophy watch list
    • Phil Steele First Team All-Big Ten
    • Blue Ribbon First Team All-Big Ten
  • Bryant Browning
    • Outland Trophy watch list
    • Phil Steele Second Team All-Big Ten
  • Justin Boren
    • Outland Trophy watch list
    • Lombardi Award watch list
    • “The Kickoff” First Team All-America
    • Phil Steele Second Team All-American
    • Lindy’s Second Team All-American
    • Second Team All-America
    • Phil Steele First Team All-Big Ten
    • Blue Ribbon First Team All-Big Ten

Let’s talk about the Boren brothers…

Justin Boren is the senior left guard transfer from TSUN. Nasty as they come, he plays with a chip on his shoulder each and every game. If you find yourself in a brawl, pray Boren is on your side. Zach Boren is his “little” brother, a 250lb fullback who is a wrecking ball and an extension of the offensive line. I believe he will go down as one of the best pure blocking fullbacks in the history of Ohio State. Don’t believe me; just ask Sean Lee and Navarro Bowman of Penn State. Boren, a freshman at the time often de-cleated the All Big Ten linebackers and helped OSU grind out over 220 yards rushing against the nation’s best defense. This “brotherly love” tandem isn’t known for their loving demeanors, but their downright violent and nasty dispositions…just what any successful offensive line needs.

With the Buckeyes stable of experienced and talented running backs, this group should pave the way for many 200+ yard rushing performances. If they can keep Pryor’s jersey clean, they have a good chance of leading this Buckeye team to another Big Ten title and beyond.


  1. Good post.

    I am extremely excited about our offensive line this year. One thing, I don’t think that Connor Smith is going to get playing time this year. A young player like Longo or even Norwell are much more likely to see the field in my opinion.

  2. God I hope you’re correct. I wish I could share your optimism. I’ve seen lines regress and disappoint too many times during the Bollman era.

  3. @Jim-One thing that I’d love Tressel to do this year is stick with 5 guys and give them 100% playing time. Too often he rotates OL groups at the start of the season. Let 1 group play and get confortable with each other.

    However, I don’t think he will do this…especially early on. He loves getting these guys experience. Norwell is a beast however he lacks the experience Smith has. Smith actually got a couple starts last year due to injuries and such.

    @Gravey-No kidding! They haven’t exactly been world beaters out there…but the end of last year was promising. They competed at a high level against top flight competition.


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