Monday, July 24, 2006

OSU Offensive Line Preview

Key losses: Nick Mangold (Drafted 29th overall -
NYJ), Rob Sims (Drafted 128th overall - SEA)

It has been said, that a fantastic offensive line can make even the most mediocre of offenses look great. With the talent that I've already covered at Quarterback, Running Back, and Wide Receiver, the statistics that the offense puts up this year should be through the roof. With a physically dominating offensive line that averages 6-foot-7 and 314 pounds, and a talent influx that seems to grow every single year, there is no reason to believe that this line won't be among the Big Ten's best this season.

Projected Starters:

Left Tackle: Alex Boone (6-8, 325 pounds) So.
Boone was one of the top overall prospects as a tackle out of high school, and was one of the biggest stars of the 2005 recruiting class. A physical specimen, the 6-8 Boone doesn't only overwhelm the defenders with his size, he's also probably the most athletic of all the Buckeye linemen. He has by far the best footwork of any Ohio State lineman in the past few years (probably the entire Jim Tressel era), and he has the size to go with it to blow defenders off the line. The only real concerns regarding Boone are his experience with him being only a sophomore, and he has had some recent off the field troubles which landed him in Tressel's doghouse for quite some time. If Tressell doesn't start him from day 1 because of his DUI, then it won't be long until he starts playing, because he's that good. Hopefully he doesn't have any jitters from being the youngest guy on this line, because we need a beast to protect Troy Smith's blind spot, and Boone can do more than just that.

Left Guard: Steve Rehring(6-8, 329 pounds) RS-So.
Probably the most questionable spot on the entire offensive line is that of left guard. Really, there are many guys that are capable of starting at this spot, and Rehring could probably play tackle as well if Boone were to get hurt, or just not live up to the hype. At 6-8/329 Rehring is the biggest of all of our offensive linemen, and was actually penciled in as a starter on the left side during summer practices last season before injuries jumbled up our entire line and we were using a large rotation all season. Rehring can physically dominate the tackles opposite him, and will probably be of biggest help to us on those 3rd & Shorts where the whole world knows we'll be running right up the middle.

Center: Doug Datish (6-5, 295 pounds) Sr.
Gone from last year's team is Nick Mangold, a captain who's ability to call the game from the line will be missed almost as much as his talent. However, waiting in the wings to replace Mangold at center is last year's right guard, Doug Datish. Datish has all the leadership ability, and probably more than what Mangold had, and can manage the game from the line just as effectively. Although he isn't nearly as talented as Mangold was, he will more than likely be a team captain this season and will be the kind of guy our entire line can rally around.

Right Guard: TJ Downing (6-4, 305 pounds) Sr.
The four members of the 2002 recruiting class that played offensive line for OSU are as follows: Rob Sims, Nick Mangold, Doug Datish, and TJ Downing. The highest ranked of them all was Sims, being the 38th lineman in the nation. However, all of these players have defied the odds and have been staples of our offensive line for the past three seasons. Downing is the biggest competitor on our offensive line, something which Tressel and the rest of the Buckeyes know that they can rely on come stretch time. He's one of the three returning starters from last year's line, and knowing how Tressel loves seniors, Downing will get every opprotunity to make the most out of his situation, and like the other members of that 2002 class, he should make the most out of it.

Right Tackle: Kirk Barton (6-7, 325 pounds) Jr.
The entire right side of the Buckeye's offensive line this year is incredibly solid, with tons of experience. The anchor of the right side is also it's youngest member: Kirk Barton. His spot has been pretty much a guarantee for some time now, and it's not just because there's a lack of depth at tackle for the Buckeyes this year (which I will admit, there definitely is). He redshirted his first year, but as a redshirt freshman, Barton started the final seven games for the Buckeyes. A stretch in which a struggling team managed to go 5-2. Although most people look in the direction of Troy Smith and Ted Ginn at that team's turnaround, Kirk Barton definitely deserves some of the credit. Barton was one of the top 100 high school football players in the country before coming to Ohio State.

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