“In the time of darkest defeat, victory may be nearest.” ~ William McKinley
I have to give some props to President McKinley. Born in Niles, Ohio, McKinley was the last American President to have served in the military in The Civil War, so McKinley certainly knew what he was talking about when it came to defeats and victory.
To say that the 2016 Ohio State football season ended with a thud is an understatement. While I certainly believed Clemson was capable of defeating Ohio State in The 2016 Fiesta Bowl, I never thought Ohio State would be so thoroughly outplayed, and, let’s be honest Ohio State fans, outcoached.
As badly as I felt about that loss on New Year’s Eve, the Ohio State coaches and players felt the sting of that loss much more so. Dramatic overhauls along the coaching staff, combined with early departures of players for the 2017 NFL Draft, have Ohio State with questions to answer as spring football began in Columbus on March 7th.
For the next several weeks, I will be writing position group previews, leading up to the Ohio State Spring Football Game in Ohio Stadium on April 15th, 2017. These position groups will be ranked, from least to most concern, as I perceive them. It is entirely possible that my concerns, as well as the coaching staff’s concerns, will be reevaluated after the spring game.
2nd – Offensive Line
Players Lost: C Pat Elflein, OL Evan Lisle (transfer to Duke for 2017 season), OL Kyle Trout (transfer to Cincinnati for 2017 season), OL Tyler Gerald (left team at beginning of 2017 spring practice)
Returning Players/Incoming Players: LT Jamarco Jones (Senior), LG Michael Jordan (Sophomore), C Billy Price (Redshirt Senior), RT Isaiah Prince (Junior), G Demetrius Knox (Redshirt Junior), C Brady Taylor (Redshirt Junior), OT Kevin Feder (Redshirt Sophomore), OT Joshua Alabi (Redshirt Sophomore), G Matthew Burrell (Redshirt Sophomore), OT Branden Bowen (Redshirt Sophomore), C Jack Wohlabaugh (Redshirt Freshman), G Gavin Cupp (Redshirt Freshman), OT Malcolm Pridgeon (JUCO Redshirt Junior), G Josh Myers (Freshman), G Wyatt Davis (Freshman), OT Thayer Munford (Freshman)
A few things to keep in mind for this position group…
- Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer was very blunt and direct about the current status of the offensive line after the spring practice on April 4th. Pointing out recruiting misses, and how true freshmen should not be starting at Ohio State, are part of the reason why I have listed this position group as the second position group that I am concerned about heading into the 2017 season.
- Demetrius Knox is presently starting at right guard. Considering the hype that surrounds true freshman Wyatt Davis, it will bear watching if Knox is the starter when Ohio State travels to Indiana on August 31st.
- While I understand the logic of moving Billy Price from guard to center, I wonder if there was any thought of promoting Brady Taylor or Jack Wohlabaugh to center after the 2016 season.
- Am I the only one surprised that Malcolm Pridgeon has not been more of a factor along the offensive line?
- Going back to the first bullet point, the stated recruiting misses paint a different perspective of former Ohio State offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Ed Warriner. On one hand, Warriner has been credited with the development of players such as Taylor Decker, Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, and Andrew Norwell. On the other, Warriner was on the staff when Ohio State was able to land talented recruits such as Matthew Burrell and Branden Bowen; neither Burrell or Bowen have been able to emerge as starters yet. Did Warriner have a poor eye for talent? That does not make sense, as just about every major program in the country wanted those same players.
- If Ohio State has another inconsistent year along the offensive line, could Greg Studrawa be on the hot seat? After all, that would make two straight years of poor offensive line play, and Studrawa would be the common denominator in those years.
The 2016 Ohio State football season did not end on a positive note. Spring practices in 2017 can show the Ohio State coaches, players, and fans that the 2017 season will not end in a similar fashion.