Ohio State notebook: Offensive line depth pleases Meyer
Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman is happier with the receiving corps than he was a year ago.
Urban Meyer had major worries about the depth on his offensive line heading into preseason camp. But because of the expected rise of three players and the surprising improvement of another, Ohio State’s coach doesn’t seem so concerned now.
Returning starters Corey Linsley (center) and Andrew Norwell (left guard) were banged up throughout camp. That meant backup centers Jacoby Boren and Pat Elflein, who also works at guard, and guard Kyle Dodson saw more time. Evidently, they benefited from it.
In addition, “A guy named Darryl Baldwin has come on,” Meyer said yesterday.
Baldwin, who was recruited as a defensive lineman, is likely to serve as a backup at both tackle positions behind returning starter Jack Mewhort on the left side and new starter Taylor Decker on the right.
“He’s one of the most improved players on the team,” Meyer said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned him. What a great kid. … Just a hard-working guy that gets great grades and is a wonderful player. Great, great representative of Ohio State.”
So as the Buckeyes prepare for the opener Saturday against Buffalo, they are much deeper on the line, Meyer said.
“Pat Elflein is a great story,” Meyer said. “What a worker, what a tremendous kid, tremendous family. Just tough. … Kyle Dodson has come on.”
As has Boren, younger brother of last year’s co-captain Zach Boren, he said.
“Those are all players that, a year ago, to think you would ever let them on the field in a situation where it counts, that’s not going to happen,” Meyer said. Now, in terms of Baldwin, “I have no problem putting him, Pat Elflein, Jacoby Boren in the game, and Kyle Dodson is getting close.”
A team spokesman said Ohio Stadium is wired now to be more smartphone-friendly. New antennae in the facility should provide the fans with more signal bars. Verizon was the first cellphone provider to join the project, the spokesman said, but the other major carriers are expected to follow suit.
OSU’s offensive coaches weren’t enamored of any of their receivers heading into the opener a year ago, but now offensive coordinator Tom Herman said a returning foursome has proved its worth.
“I feel like we have got four wide receivers right now that would definitely be considered starter/50- , 60-, 70-play-a-game guys and that would be (Corey) ‘Philly’ Brown, Evan Spencer, Devin Smith and Chris Fields,” Herman said yesterday. “Those four guys we feel very comfortable about.
“Philly is kind of a swing guy, if you will. He can play outside receiver, and he can play some inside receiver. Chris Fields is mainly an inside receiver, and Devin and Evan are mainly outside receivers.”
Herman added that Mike Thomas, junior-college transfer Corey Smith and freshman James Clark “are trying to fight for that fifth and sixth spot. … And then, obviously, we’ll sprinkle in some Dontre Wilson in there, as well.” Wilson, a speedy freshman, is working some at running back and some at receiver.