Depth of the offensive line is a concern for Ryan: “You see a lot of pressure on the midfielder, especially with the twos and threes”

First we heard it from Buckeye’s coaching staff. Then we saw it up close and personal, vivid and colorful.

Ohio State’s defensive line wreaked havoc in camp this spring, so much so that first-year defensive coordinator Jim Knowles noted last week that Larry Johnson’s unit marked him above all else in his early assessments of the Crimson and Gray defense. .

“I think up front, it was pretty impressive to me. The change of streak of scrimmage and the speed at which we accelerate pedestrians, I think part of it was very impressive,” Knowles said after practice last Tuesday. “The rest is what I expected.”

When Ohio State opened a Student Appreciation Day practice on Saturday, sometimes live through 11 to 11 reps in front of Buckeye fans and members of the media, the defensive line performance that Knowles described was clearly visible. The quarterbacks may have been off the hook, but CJ Stroud, Kyle McCord and Devin Brown all experienced a lot of pressure during periods of melee, creating sacks or being forced to improvise out of pocket as Buckeye passers-by were routinely ejected from their comfort zone.

This may all be well and good for Buckeye’s defensive line, a unit that failed to play its potential at times last season, but what does it say about Ohio State’s offensive line? With their starts almost all five at the top of the depth chart, the Buckeyes are still searching for answers next to support a group that looks heavyweight at this point in the spring.

“I think the depth that we create in the defensive line will be a huge advantage for us. I think our two and three are on the defensive side of the ball more than they are on the offensive now,” Ryan Day said after training on Monday. “So you see a lot of pressure on the midfielder, especially With double and triple. Hopefully we can get some of these guys back on the offensive. But I think when you look at the depth and some of the players on the defensive end and defensive tackle, we’re about two or three deep in some of those situations now, which will be huge in the fall. ”

Ohio State brought back three Novices from its 2021 offensive line, all of whom were first-year Novices a year ago. Luke Wypler returns to center, Dawand Jones returns to the right intervention, and Paris Johnson Jr. – Buckeyes’ starting right guard last season – to the left tackle for the first time in crimson and grey. Aside from these three, senior Matt Jones, a fifth-year and sophomore Donovan Jackson, has brought out a talented, high-ceilinged group.

After that, though, things go a little slow. Ohio State had Jackson and Matt Jones in its back pocket as a backup a year ago, but in 2022, the next guys may not be so obvious. Given Harry Miller’s medical retirement last month, Josh Friar will be the sixth man for new coach Justin Frye’s unit this season, but the Redshirt’s sophomore has been out all spring after suffering a late-season injury.

Ohio State could turn fourth-year linebacker Enokk Vimahi into question, as the 6-foot-4 veteran played indoors and out on occasion with the Buckeyes, but the Hawaii native took shots up front in just four games for the Crimson and Gray a year ago.

Redshirt novices Zen Michalsky and Ben Christman didn’t seem to get reps at Ohio State Student Appreciation Day, and Redshirt sophomore Trey Lero was seen wearing walking shoes at the end of a Saturday session.

“We need more depth up front, that’s for sure,” Day said. “I feel good for five or six guys, but we need to get to seven, eight, nine, which has been an asset to us for the past few years.”

As a contingency plan given the little depth in the front, Jackson was training on the left side this spring to give the Buckeyes another option in the event of an emergency. At 6-foot-4, Jackson may not have the perfect size for a left-hand tackle in the Big Ten, but his 6-foot-11 wingspan and “weird” athleticism—according to Wypler—gave the coaching staff confidence in his versatility outside.

However, having to play Jackson on the left tackle wouldn’t necessarily be ideal for Ohio State.

“(It is) more about building depth at the moment. He was mostly a goalkeeper,” Day said. “Until last year, he played some of that tight final position and then played some tackles during training mostly last year – I don’t know if No representatives have played in interference last season. But he is very intelligent, very athletic, and can process information at a very high level for his age. So we do that as kind of depth, kind of rain insurance going forward.

“When we start to get some guys like Josh Friar and some of the guys who got damaged, we’re going to put him back on guard. But now he’s running with those on the left guard.”

But even the Buckeyes at the top of the depth chart in Frye’s room have to hone their skills this spring in order to deal with the passing rush that JT Tuimoloau, Jack Sawyer and company have featured glimpsed in Saturday’s training.

Dawand Jones said Johnson’s transition into the center tackle “is starting a bit slow”, and both players must improve pass blocking in order for the streak to reach its full potential in 2022.

“As talented and talented (Jones) as he is, and also with Paris with talent, their ability to tackle one-on-one matches, mature guys on one-on-one adult men and be dominant,” Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said last week. Great players can do that. And great players have the ability to communicate, to see, to anticipate. And as a coach, the easier we can make their jobs, the better you’ll be. …so Dawand and Paris must both be great players in some key showdown. And the best thing is that we get those matches in practice. So we are exposed to it on a daily basis.”

The good news for Frey, Wilson, Day and the rest of Buckeye’s coaching staff is that the start of the new season is still five months away, with the remainder of the spring and summer remaining for the offensive linemen to recover and develop. If the problem persists after that, the depth up front for Buckeye’s streak could be an important story to follow all season in Ohio State.