Football coaches at any level of the game — high school, college and beyond — will say that the success of their team is directly tied to the success of the offensive line.
First-year Buckeyes coach Luke Fickell made it clear that he too subscribes to that theory at a Sunday press conference during OSU football media day at Ohio Stadium.
“I think that’s where the game always starts, is up front,” Fickell said. “If we can be solid up front, that will give us a lot better chance.”
Fickell also said that returning offensive linemen, including 2010 All-Big Ten senior center Michael Brewster and three-year letter winner and senior right tackle J.B. Shugarts, will be relied on heavily during OSU’s 2011 campaign.
“We’re gonna put a lot of heat on those guys,” Fickell said. “To me, the Michael Brewsters, your J.B. Shugarts — those guys have been in there. They’ve been in the battle. They know what it’s like in front of 106,000 people.”
Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Jim Bollman said the linemen have performed well to this point in camp, but know there is more work to be done.
“They (the offensive line) know they’re not finished,” Bollman said. “I think a lot of the older guys… they know what it takes to get ready. They know where they have to get to and they’re doing a good job.
“They’re not there yet but they’re headed in that direction.”
Saturday’s jersey scrimmage at the ‘Shoe saw the offensive line allow five sacks to the four OSU quarterbacks.
The offensive line could also only help junior Jordan Hall, sophomore Carlos Hyde and freshman Rod Smith gain 54 yards on the ground on 24 total carries.
Freshman lineman Brian Bobek said that yesterday’s performance by the offensive line was disappointing.
“We didn’t run the ball as well as we would have liked to,” Bobek said. “Picking up blitzes and stuff like that — it’s something we’re going to work on a lot this week.”
Bobek also said the unit has made significant progress since the start of camp and he expects OSU to eventually have the best offensive line in the Big Ten.
“We’ll get it fixed,” he said. “We’ll make a lot of progress and we’ll be there.”
Senior left tackle Mike Adams, a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2010, will rejoin the offensive line after serving a five-game suspension for exchanging OSU football memorabilia for improper benefits in the form of tattoos.
In the interim, Adams says he has taken on the role of a student-teacher and will assist in preparing OSU’s offensive line as the season approaches.
“I’m trying to help out,” Adams said. “The (offensive) line is coming along great. This is a chance to be one of the best offensive lines since I’ve been here.
“I’m just worried about getting my guys ready for week one.”
Week 1 arrives in just 13 days, but Fickell said he believes that the offensive line has already started to come together.
“I think we’ve got a group that might be a little thin right now,” he said, “but (they) have a lot of ability.”