Much like the rest of the Ohio State football team, the offensive line is bringing back plenty of experience.
With four starters coming back to Columbus and just one spot open, it appears as though there’s a two-horse race to become a starting member of what the Buckeyes call “the slobs.”
Redshirt-senior Chase Farris and sophomore Jamarco Jones are the frontrunners to replace Darryl Baldwin at right tackle, but offensive line coach and offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said Farris is ahead of the pack.
“He hit stride where we thought he was playing really good towards the end of the (2014) season, but you got a starting lineup, we (were) on a roll. Darryl Baldwin was playing his butt off,” Warinner said Thursday. “If he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’ll be able to take that position over, (but) Jamarco Jones is not by any means just going to let him have it.”
While Jones is behind Farris on the depth chart for now, he has been getting extensive reps in practice at left tackle with senior Taylor Decker sitting out most of spring practice for rest purposes.
Decker said Thursday that he also believes Farris is the favorite to win the job, but has been pleasantly surprised with the way Jones has been performing in his usual spot.
“I think he is doing a really good job. The one thing I wanted to see personally out of him was consistency and how he practices. I think he is developing that, especially with all of the reps he is getting, he doesn’t have a choice,” Decker said. “Coach (Urban) Meyer is going to be right there watching him. Coach Warinner is going to be watching him because they expect a lot out of him.”
Regardless of who wins the job, Warinner said he is pleased with the personnel he has along the offensive front. “I love the chemistry with those guys. They are great people, I love being around them. They are part of a family that we are all a part of,” Warinner said. “Those guys are great, great kids and that’s why we have a great room and so forth.”
Redshirt-junior offensive lineman Pat Elflein, who is set to enter into his second full season as a starter, said the chemistry within the unit is a credit to Warinner’s “very intense” coaching.
“He’s a perfectionist. He won’t let anything slip. No matter what it is, wrong step, whatever, hand placement, if it’s not perfect, he’s on you,” Elflein said Thursday. “I think that is probably his best quality and that’s why we’ve been playing so good. He has developed so many guys to be great players.”
But while he is a coach and not a player, how does Warinner fit in among the self-named “slobs?”
“I don’t know where that name came from. I didn’t give them that, but I am the head of them. So I am an honorary. I am also trying to lose 10 pounds,” Warinner said with a smile. “They are always trying to gain their weight. They’re human garbage disposals. Eight-thousand calories a day and they look pretty good doing it. If I keep up with them, you’ll have to get a 4X (shirt) for me.”
With a coach who has developed players and has just one starting spot to fill, Elflein said he is excited to see where the Buckeyes’ front five can go.
“We just have to get everybody on the same page. It’s not easy. That’s our goal is to get everybody bought into the culture and if we can do that, watch out,” Elflein said. “We are going to have a good unit.”
The Buckeyes are set to take to the field for their annual Spring Game on April 18 at Ohio Stadium before beginning the 2015 season on the road against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., on Sept. 7.