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Branden Bowen’s long road back to starting on Ohio State’s offensive line

It is easy to understand why the Ohio State offensive lineman was so emotional after finding out he would be starting at right tackle against Florida Atlantic.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

“It was hard not to break down and cry, because it’s been a long road. It’s definitely been very, very difficult — something I never even though about dealing with prior.”

Ohio State offensive tackle Branden Bowen on being named a starter via Nathan Baird,

If there is anyone who truly deserves a starting spot on this year’s Ohio State team, it is offensive tackle Branden Bowen. The fifth-year senior was overcome with emotion when head coach Ryan Day announced Bowen would be Ohio State’s starting right tackle on Saturday against Florida Atlantic. When you take into account how much Bowen has gone through over the past few years, it’s easy to understand why Bowen had the reaction he did.

This isn’t the first time Bowen has started for Ohio State, as he was the starting right guard for the Buckeyes back in 2017. The Buckeyes were taking on Maryland at Ohio Stadium in their seventh game of the year when Bowen went down in the first quarter. After being taken to the hospital, it was determined that Bowen had clean breaks in both his tibia and fibula.

Bowen did all he could to try and work his way back onto the football field last season, but he continued to experience pain in his leg, which doctors determined was because his fibula hadn’t completely healed. While teammates tried to keep Bowen involved, the recovery and having to sit out the whole year took its toll on the offensive lineman.

Last October, Bowen opened up on World Mental Health Day about his mental health struggles during his first two years at Ohio State, and made himself available for anyone who was dealing with the same issues. Even though he wasn’t on the football field, it was his way of making a difference for anyone who might need help.

Even though Bowen was named the starter at right tackle, it won’t be the highlight of his year. That came in May when his fiancee gave birth to their son. Even though there were some dark days early on in his Ohio State career, it looks like Bowen can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and he’s just trying to finish up his career strong and possibly make an impression on teams in the NFL.

“Tackling is the meat and potatoes of the game. Tackling, blocking, and protecting the ball. Those are the three biggest elements of how to play football, and we’ve hit on that so much this offseason that I feel like our improvement of developing on tackling, not only as individuals, but as a team, is going to be completely different than last season.”

Ohio State defensive tackle Robert Landers via Joey Kaufman, The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State had a lot of problems on defense last year, but one of the biggest was with their tackling. You can look at film and find missed tackles in every game by the Buckeyes, but the most embarrassing effort came against Purdue, when Rondale Moore made the Ohio State defense look silly with some of the tackles he was breaking.

When Ryan Day took over as head coach of the Buckeyes, he knew plenty had a to change on the defense if Ohio State was going to be successful. Day overhauled the defensive coaching staff, bringing in Greg Mattison from Michigan and Jeff Hafley from the NFL to serve as co-defensive coordinators. Both know just how important tackling can be, so they have been making a point to emphasize it in practices.

So far Hafley and Mattison are happy with the improvements they’ve seen from the defense in practice when it comes to tackling, and are excited to see how it translates onto the field when Ohio State opens the season. Day knows that tackling is all about toughness and the new head coach has confidence that his team has the toughness to make a big improvement on the way they tackle this year.

“I knew within a month that I made a mistake at Florida. This one, I believe I haven’t made a mistake. I like what I’m doing, and I really enjoy working at Fox and Ohio State and being involved with other teams, too.”

Former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer on retirement via David Briggs, The Toledo Blade

Almost nine months after coaching his final college football game at Ohio State, it certainly seems like Urban Meyer is enjoying his retirement. Meyer not only has an assistant athletic director position at Ohio State to keep him busy, but with the college football season about to kick off, Meyer will have plenty on his plate with his television responsibilities with Fox.

Even though Meyer is saying he is enjoying retirement, it’s not hard to imagine him getting back to coaching in the near future. Working with Ohio State and Fox might be enough for a while, but Meyer is such a competitor that after a while returning to coaching might be an itch he has to scratch.

One big difference between this retirement and his retirement from Florida, is Meyer has grandchildren now to help keep him busy. Urban and his wife live next to their daughter Nicki and two grandchildren in Dublin. The Rose Bowl could really have been the last time we saw Urban Meyer coaching a college football game, but plenty could change in the future. At least the former Ohio State head coach sounds like he is happy and healthy when it comes to his life after football so far.

“Everyone’s coming into this weekend with a blank state, starting fresh. It’s just seeing who prepared themselves the best during the offseason.”

Ohio State women’s volleyball middle blocker Lauren Witte via Allyson Williams, The Lantern

Ohio State’s women’s volleyball opens up their season on Friday, and will be hoping they’ll see a lot better results than the 12-20 record the 2018 season brought. The Buckeyes will be hosting the Sports Impact Classic, which will include Lehigh, Texas Tech, and Virginia Commonwealth. All the games in the Sports Impact Classic will take place at the new Covelli Center.

Ohio State is hoping a new arena will bring new results in 2019. Early on the Buckeyes are looking to keep things simple since they’ll be playing their first few matches of the season, and build from there. Ohio State has six new players on the court this year, but they used a trip to South America for a preseason international tournament to build chemistry.

Action at the Sports Impact Classic starts at 9:30 a.m on Friday. Ohio State takes the court for the first time in 2019 when they take on Lehigh, who finished 2018 at 20-8, at noon. The Buckeyes will follow that up with another game on Friday night, when they take on Texas Tech at 8 p.m.