It is often said football games are won or lost in the trenches. The 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes make no exception to this school of thought.
Although senior running back Carlos Hyde is having a great season for the No. 3-ranked Ohio State football team (10-0, 6-0), if it weren’t for the “big uglies,” Hyde’s numbers would be lower.
“I give all credit to my offensive line and my receivers,” Hyde said after the game against Illinois, in which he ran for a career-high 246 yards. “They did a great job.”
A big part of the offensive line’s success this year has come from redshirt-senior left tackle Jack Mewhort, who is set to start his final game at Ohio Stadium as a member of the OSU football team. It is set to be the 36th straight game Mewhort has started for the Buckeyes.
Mewhort said Monday he is “trying not to think about” playing his last game in Ohio Stadium.
“I know that when I run out of the tunnel for that last time, it’s going to be a pretty emotional thing,” Mewhort said. “But it’s been a great ride … I owe who I am to this university and this program. So it’s going to mean a lot to me, like I said my last time. I’m going to be taking it all in and looking forward to it.”
The last time Mewhort did not start for the Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium was Nov. 27, 2010, in a 37-7 Buckeye win against Michigan.
During the Big Ten Teleconference Tuesday, Meyer said Mewhort brings not only a high level of play, but great leadership to the Buckeyes.
“He’s one of my all-time favorite players I’ve been around. He’s playing at an extremely high level, but that’s just part of it,” Meyer said. “His leadership — he got hurt last week so we had to take him out of the game and our offense just started spiring and it’s not just the fact that he’s a heck of a player, it’s just the leadership value he brings and the ‘esprit de corps’ that he is a part of.”
A large part of the offensive line’s success, Mewhort said, has been the ability to take responsibility as leaders and players.
“We did a lot of growing up, as far as maturity goes. I think when coach Meyer got here, we realized that we were the older guys now, and we had to assume some responsibility and not just take a back seat and watch other guys do it,” Mewhort said. “That’s kind of what I’ve mentioned before, guys taking ownership. That was really cool to see. Coach Meyer put a lot of pressure on us to do that and we accepted that and that’s when we started to see guys thrive.”
A big concern for the Buckeyes will be blocking out the Senior Day emotions in addition to the BCS standings, and just focusing on Indiana (4-6, 2-4), Mewhort said.
“I think there’s a big focus on that now especially that we’re winding down. I think things are getting kind of real for us,” Mewhort said. “We have our eyes on something, but we don’t want to talk about it and I think that’s what coach Meyer was talking about … we’re just going to take it day by day and go through the daily grind and try to get better as an offense and defense.”
Redshirt-senior center Corey Linsley agreed with Mewhort, adding that keeping focused on the next game has been part of OSU’s success this year.
“Things like the win streak and clinching the Leaders Division and all this, it’s a lot of pressure on you and to think about that stuff and concentrate on that stuff it produces nothing but anxiety, stress,” Linsley said. “Week in and week out, I know it sounds cliche … but it’s a one game season for us. We’ve done nothing but prepare like that all year. Truly, that’s been a huge part of our success.”
Mewhort and the rest of the seniors on the Buckeye offensive line are scheduled for their last game at Ohio Stadium Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Mewhort said it has been special playing with the senior class and watching them grow.
“I just think we are a really close-knit group of guys. Passionate, I would say. Really caring,” Mewhort said. “There’s something I haven’t seen … I’ve seen guys change over the past three years and really become selfless people. That’s something that’s really special. Seeing guys transform from ‘me’ guys into ‘team’ guys.”