MotSaG Look at the Offensive Tackles

osuHelmetWhat a difference a year makes — at the beginning of 2012 the big uglies portended as one of the biggest areas of concern. Now with the graduation of only right tackle Reid Fragel from a unit that became the most reliable aspect of a resurgent offensive attack, heading into 2013 the O line is projected as perhaps the most reliable unit on the team. Not that 2012 was without its difficulties. Despite a clear increase in offensive production, especially in the power run game, the sack rate stood out as a potential area of concern, though this could be laid more at the doorstep of the lingering problem that the young receiving corps had getting open in 2012.

If you focus on the trenches, you can get a good glimpse of the good and the not so good from the Michigan highlights from last year.

Starters Lost
Right tackle Reid Fragel, a converted tight end now with the Cincinnati Bengals.

2013 Outlook
Big things are expected of this group in 2013. Sports Illustrated for example has tabbed several returners for pre-season first or second B1G recognition: left tackle Jack Mewhort, left guard Andrew Norwell and center Corey Linsley. Needless to say, the blindside seems to be in good hands, but let us not skimp on the accolades here. Mewhort is proving to be a very special cat, capable of containing the most vicious of D line attackers yet capable of moving and setting up the sophisticated schemes the Buckeyes intend to run away from the trenches. And what is more, many look at his leadership potential and suggest that the most valuable role he will play is one the veteran inherits–that of team emotional soul after the departure of John Simon from last year’s edition.

Things are not exactly looking bad on the right side either. For one thing, a dominant side of the line, like the left, generally tends to also elevate the play of the other side. And the potential is there for some of the best play to come from individuals on the right side. Taylor Decker not only has won an intense battle for starting right tackle with fellow soph Chase Farris, but Decker has announced his intention to far surpass what was necessary to just win the job. With a frame one inch shorter but 15 pounds heavier than his predecessor, 6’8” monster and now Cincinnati Bengal Reid Fragel, Decker has the tools, not to mention the quickness and intelligence to make super good on that intention. And remember, Fragel rose to such heights after a late college career switch from the tight end position. Just listen to Ed Warinner about the trajectory of Decker:

It is pretty easy to understand why Urban Meyer is feeling good about his starting unit and one can start to foresee that towards the end of the year when these things could matter the most, barring injury, the offensive line, and the tackles in particular, could well evolve into the best unit in the country. Some big ifs to get through, but that vision is potentially right on the horizon.

Here is what some of the starters had to say early in camp:

The Backups
The major concern with this unit is the relative youth and inexperience of the backups. Not that they lack for talent. Sophomores Kyle Dodson and Chase Farris will challenge for backup roles at the tackle positions, as will sophomore Tommy Brown who did well in the action he saw in 2012. As the season progresses one can also expect to see highly recruited frosh Evan Lisle from Centerville emerge as a guy looking for play time at either of the tackle spots. Unfortunately incoming freshman Donovan Munger will miss the season because of a blood clot problem over the summer. Given some time it is reasonable to expect that recently converted defensive lineman Billy Price could make an impact on the offensive line though most likely at center or guard.

The Prediction
Nothing in 2013 will be as beautiful to watch as Ohio State’s big uglies.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: