The Ohio State offensive is running on all cylinders because of various reasons, but the offensive line is ultimately the key.
Ohio State running back Mike Weber is off to a great start and the Buckeyes are among the leaders in most offensive categories in all of college football. Quarterback J.T. Barrett is forcing his way into the Heisman conversation and head coach Urban Meyer has finally found his perfect H-Back in Curtis Samuel.
None of this is possible without the work up front by the offensive line. As important as Greg Schiano’s addition has been to the defense, Greg Studrawa’s has been even more impressive.
His addition on offense has not only led to an offensive explosion, but it also improved on last year’s astronomical numbers. The guys at Eleven Warriors have the best snap shot of Ohio State’s improvement:
That is a crazy set of numbers. 22.5 more points. Over 100 more rushing yards. 40 more passing yards, and a 17% improvement on third down. Not to mention almost a 30% improvement in red zone efficiency!
This comes from an offense that lost three players alone to the first round of the NFL draft. Enter Studrawa, who was inheriting a unit in the trenches that had been very good, but was now very green.
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There’s a true freshman at left guard. A first year player is currently protecting Barrett’s blind side. The best returning lineman was moved to center. If Schiano doesn’t earn national honors as the best assistant coach in the country, it would be because it went to Studrawa.
Meyer is very familiar with Studrawa, who served as his offensive line coach at Bowling Green. He then ran the Falcons’ offense after Meyer bolted for Utah, putting them at the top of most national categories.
Studrawa later won a national title while coaching at LSU. He most recently helped improve the Maryland rushing attack from 111th nationally to 31st.
It’s not a coincidence then that the Ohio State offense is closer to the well oiled machine from the last two games of the season. The level of play then compared to the one where former running back Ezekiel Elliott had to be superhuman to get on the board cannot be compared.
No one should discredit the impact the quarterback shuffle had. Nor the ultimately bad choice to put Ed Warriner on the sidelines. None of those fixes would have mattered unless Warriner could focus on the entire offense and surrender his offensive line responsibilities.
Luckily for Ohio State, D.J. Durkin did not keep Studrawa on staff when he was hired to run the Terrapins program. While Weber is off to a blistering pace and the Buckeyes can score with their backups, it all starts up front.
Who creates those massive running lanes keeping Weber clean all the way to the second and third levels? Who keeps Barrett upright, surrendering only two sacks on the entire year? If it were not for the offensive line, none of this would be possible.
Just look at 2015 when the talent on the field didn’t necessarily match the performance all of the time. This year, though, is an entirely different story.
A huge driver of that is the better than expected play of “The Slobs” and their leaders on the sidelines. Very quietly, Ohio State just might have built the best offensive line in the country.