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Ohio State’s offensive line chemistry paving the way for early success

The Buckeyes had to replace four of five starters on the unit, but it sure doesn’t look that way.

Ohio State v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

“Usually when a team has to revamp at the line of scrimmage, it takes a few weeks for there to be cohesion. But the lineup of Thayer Munford, Jonah Jackson, Josh Myers, Wyatt Davis and Branden Bowen have shown to be one of the best run-blocking units in the country -- even as Joshua Alabi replaced an injured Bowen against Nebraska.”

- Stephen Means, Cleveland.com

Ohio State lost a huge chunk of it’s offensive production from a season ago heading into 2019, and somehow the offense has gotten even better. The two-headed monster of Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins has gotten a lot of love, as they well should, but they would not be put in a position to succeed without some decent blocking. An offensive line that came into the season needing to find four new starters could have gotten off to a slow start without much of a surprise, however the surprise has come with just how fantastic they have become in such a short time.

Some of the early success can be accredited to play calling. Gone are the RPOs the Buckeyes utilized with Dwayne Haskins at the helm, and returning in full force are the read-option and play action passing game. However, while the playbook has switched to a more fast-paced style of quick-hitters with an emphasis on getting the ball out quickly, the offensive line has still done a tremendous time when called upon, especially in the run game.

While a running backs stats cannot be entirely contributed to o-line play, it certainly helps. Dobbins last season averaged just 4.6 yards per carry in a season he himself called a “failure.” Fast forward to 2019, and Dobbins has averaged a whopping 7.1 yards per carry through the first five games. According to Football Outsiders, Ohio State ranks third-best in line yards at 3.24, third in stuff rate a 10.3 percent, and fifth in opportunity rate at 58.7 percent. The Buckeyes also rank fourth in FBS in rushing touchdowns with 16.

If you are wondering just how far the OSU offensive line has come, a season ago they ranked 65th in line yards, 66th in stuff rate and 45th in opportunity rate. The pass-blocking could still use a bit of work, but not all too much more could have been asked from a revamped o-line through five weeks. The unit has showed impressive cohesion, and did not even miss a beat when Josh Alabi had to replace an injured Brandon Bowen against Nebraska. If Greg Studrawa’s boys can continue to improve as the season progresses, opposing defensive lines will have no shot at getting into the Buckeye backfield.


“Nebraska defensive lineman Khalil Davis has been suspended for the game against Northwestern on Saturday for striking an Ohio State player in violation of the Big Ten’s sportsmanship policy.”

- ESPN

As if Nebraska needed anymore insult added to injury after their blowout loss to Ohio State, one of their best defensive players is now on the shelf this weekend. Cornhuskers defensive lineman Khalil Davis will be forced to sit out of the team’s game against Northwestern this weekend after striking an Ohio State player, violating the Big Ten’s sportsmanship policy. The conference policy in the news release said as follows:

“The Big Ten Conference expects all contests involving a member institution to be conducted without compromise to any fundamental element of sportsmanship. Such fundamental elements include integrity of the competition, civility toward all, and respect, particularly toward opponents and officials.”

The act in question remains unclear, as Davis was offscreen when the supposed action occurred, however it is believed that the Ohio State player was center Josh Meyers.

Scott Frost released a statement that the program supports the Big Ten’s decision, saying “We do not condone unsportsmanlike play or behavior in our program, and will use this as an educational opportunity with our team on how to play the game the right way.” Frost will have to continue preparation for the game against the Wildcats without one of his best defensive lineman.

Davis leads Nebraska with six tackles for loss and three sacks in the team’s first five games.


“The first-five-games edition of Garrett Wilson is already capable of grabbing three touchdowns, filling up the highlight reel with jaw-dropping catches and looking like an explosive special-teams weapon on top of that.”

- Evan Spencer, LettermenRow.com

There was a ton of hype surrounding Garrett Wilson’s commitment to Ohio State, and rightly so. A five-star recruit out of Lake Travis, Wilson was of the most highly touted recruits the Buckeyes have had at the wide receiver position in quite a while. With a ton of talent at the position already on the roster, it seemed unlikely Wilson would play a big role in year one in Columbus. That has not been the case, as the freshman has quickly become a frequent target for Justin Fields, especially in the redzone.

Under the past regime, it seemed as though all too often players were held out of the rotation based on seniority rather than skill. With a different coach at the helm, Wilson may not have gotten the chance to flourish in his first year on campus. Ryan Day clearly knows what he is doing, and by allowing Wilson to play a part in the team’s offensive plans early on, he has been able to help instill confidence in the young wideout and allow him to come into his own in such a short time.

Wilson is still not technically a starter on the depth chart, but he has gotten a chance to show off his impressive skillset at seemingly every opportunity. His touchdown against Nebraska was just another clip on the highlight reel — a corner fade route where he beat his defender and got a whole three feet inbounds with very little room for his third touchdown grab of the season. Wilson already has eight catches for 77 yards including his three scores, and has also shown some prowess in the punt return game as well.

The freshman has gotten a chance to showcase how he earned the five-stars in his recruitment, and will only continue to improve with the stellar Brian Hardline at his side. Ohio State has a ton of depth at wide receiver, with even more help on the way next season, however if Wilson stays on the track he is currently on, we could be looking at one of the best and most reliable Buckeye wide receivers since Michael Thomas.


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