Ohio State's offensive line feeling confident as opener approaches

While Ohio State’s quarterback competition got most of the attention this summer, the other big question about the Buckeyes’ offense quietly reached a resolution.
Ohio State is loaded with elite playmakers at receiver and running back, but it's almost impossible for an offense to function without a quality offensive line. The Buckeyes entered training camp with uncertainly about that unit after losing center Luke Wypler and tackles Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones to the NFL.
The offensive line’s shaky performance in March and April did not inspire confidence, but training camp and one key post-spring addition has.
“They’re a good group,” running back TreVeyon Henderson said Wednesday as the Buckeyes prepared for Saturday’s season opener at Indiana. “They take care of business up front. They’re serious about what they do. I’m just excited to run behind them on Saturday.”
The Buckeyes had Donovan Jackson and Matt Jones returning at guard, but those were the only sure things. Josh Simmons, who played right tackle for San Diego State as a freshman last year, arrived after spring. When coaches moved him to left tackle early in training camp, that allowed Josh Fryar to return to right tackle, his primary position last year as OSU's top backup lineman.
When redshirt freshman Carson Hinzman won the center job late in camp over Louisiana-Monroe graduate transfer Vic Cutler, the line was set.
Sep 24, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Donovan Jackson (74) during first half action in the NCAA Division I football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Doral Chenoweth/The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State guard Donovan Jackson blocks against Wisconsin last year.
“I’m very proud of this group, of where we’re at right now,” Jackson said. “Nothing’s perfect, and we have plenty to work on. I feel the best part of being at a university like this is that every single guy in that room is hungry to get better.”
More: After faltering in 2022, Ohio State defense expects excellence in Year 2 under Jim Knowles
Henderson missed most of spring practice recovering from a foot injury. He said when he returned, he could tell how much work the line had put in.
“As soon as I got back, they were already taking care of business,” Henderson said. “I just think that during the offseason, they built that bond. They put in a lot of work together behind the scenes, so once fall camp came, those boys were ready.”
Simmons had the steepest learning curve because of his arrival in May. Jackson said he was impressed by how quickly Simmons learned OSU’s complex scheme.
“Ohio State's playbook is not a not a small thing,” Jackson said. “It's a very large thing. We have a lot of terminology.”
Jackson said he’d offer Simmons help, only to see that he’d already grasped the offense. Physically, Jackson said, Simmons was more than ready.
“Josh is an athletic freak, strong as an ox, gets out of his stance fast, great feet,” he said.
The pieces are now in place. The key, Jackson said, is for the five linemen to be cohesive mentally and physically.
Indiana could provide an interesting test. The Hoosiers’ defense has been fortified by numerous transfers, and coach Tom Allen is a respected defensive strategist who’ll try to confuse OSU’s line with different looks and blitzes
“It’s our job to pick it up,” Jackson said. “Three new guys on the line – it doesn’t matter. We’ve just got to be on the same page, five minds working as one, and pick up what we see in front of us.
“We believe in our training and what we’ve done over the summer and what we’ve done in camp, so we’re going to go out on the field and showcase what we’ve done. Our coaches always say that you feel pressure when you don’t know what you’re doing. As long as we lock into the mental side of the game, I feel we’ll be in the right spot.”

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