There’s no official individual statistic for offensive linemen that measures performance, and defensive linemen rarely lead a team in tackles.
One doesn’t need stats to know that Ohio State dominated with both lines Saturday, however.
“We want to dominate the line of scrimmage,” head coach Ryan Day said. “We think we should be owning the line of scrimmage, that’s where battles are won, and I think today was an example of that.”
Along the offensive line, lanes were cleared by the five men up front, paving the way for 314 team rushing yards. Sophomore quarterback Justin Fields, known for his athleticism, didn’t contribute much to that total, either.
Junior running back J.K. Dobbins picked up 193 yards on 22 carries, and redshirt freshman Master Teague pitched relief with 106 on 10. Day said both backs often weren’t getting touched until the second level of the defense.
“It’s amazing, they’re blocking great,” Dobbins said. “Those guys keep going, this offense is gonna keep going.”
The front five cleared out huge lanes both in the classic under center power style and zone blocking from a shotgun.
“When you can get that run going, you can really control the game, and I think we did that today,” Day said. “That’s our goal in any game.”
Day said Ohio State is starting to form that as its identity on offense: establish the run, control the line of scrimmage, set up play action.
Ohio State’s offensive line wasn’t the only unit that dominated Saturday, however. The opposite line helped fill the running lanes to hold Indiana to 42 total rushing yards.
When a team is picking up fewer yards on the ground it forces them into second- and third-and-long situations where teams have to pass the ball.
“The D-line has owned the line of scrimmage well,” Day said. “Created some sacks, created some turnovers, and we can get teams into throwing situations, I think it’s advantage us.”
The Buckeyes took advantage of those situations Saturday, with five sacks, eight pass break ups and one interception as a team.
Junior defensive end Chase Young is on a three-game streak with at least 1.5 sacks, bringing Indiana redshirt sophomore quarterback Peyton Ramsey down twice to bring his 2019 quarterback takedown total to five.
Under his leadership, the defense shut down the Hoosiers on the ground and kept them from scoring all but two drives.
“It’s definitely something we work for, TFLs, change the line of scrimmage, sacks,” Young said. “[Defensive line coach Larry Johnson] stays on all of us, all week about certain techniques we can do. We try to perform every Saturday and put it on display.”
Indiana’s lone touchdown came on a double pass that fooled the defense.
“For them to have to run a trick play on us to get a touchdown, I think we did real good,” Young said.
Ohio State’s defensive line showed its depth too. A trio of defensive ends, redshirt freshmen Javontae Jean-Baptiste and Tyler Friday along with freshman Zach Harrison, recorded their first career sacks against Indiana.
“Real proud of those dudes. I always tell them, keep working, keep working, be patient, it’s gonna come,” Young said. “Today, it came for them.”
Football is won and lost in the trenches. With more games from its lines like Saturday’s, Ohio State should be on the winning side quite a bit.