Ohio State spring football review: Offensive line

Coaches and players come and go, but one thing never changes for Ohio State football.

Fans want to know what is up with the offensive line.

Such is the case again this year when a surprising amount is unknown for a team returning four starters.

Here’s a look back at what was (or wasn’t) accomplished this spring on the front.

(Previous recaps: QBs, RBs, WRs)

(Re-)setting the scene:

Josh Simmons and Josh Fryar return at left and right tackle, respectively, while Donovan Jackson is back at left guard after considering going pro.

Carson Hinzman returns at center, but he could be supplanted by Alabama transfer Seth McLaughlin. Right guard was open with sophomores Tegra Tshabola and Luke Montgomery among the competitors.

Then what happened?

Fryar got some work at guard, but he primarily remained at right tackle after showing up noticeably slimmer.

Coach Justin Frye insisted he wasn’t close to setting a starting lineup late in spring practice, and he moved guys around enough in the spring game to make that seem believable.

McLaughlin and Hinzman both saw time at right guard, as did Montgomery while Tshabola, a Lakota West product, played both spots on the right side.

Lakota East grad Austin Siereveld was consistently the No. 2 right guard in open practice sessions and the spring game while fellow redshirt freshman Joshua Padilla, a Wayne High School product, was next in line at center behind Hinzman and McLaughlin.

Predictions for this unit:

Frye proved last year he is comfortable using spring to experiment, and he seems to have done much of that again so this is not an easy peg even with 80 percent of the starting lineup back.

New offensive coordinator Chip Kelly said he really wants to find 10 starter-quality players, but from here it appears Ohio State would be doing well to find five after a sub-par season up front.

On the bright side, four returning starters and a guy who was a two-year starter at Alabama (McLaughlin) provide a pretty good starting point.

Montgomery and Tshabola both have four-star talent, but the staff doesn’t seem yet certain about where they can best use it.

If one of that duo joins the starting lineup, the other should be a quality sixth man.

Too young and too light, Hinzman was the obvious weak link last season on a group that started poorly but showed improvement in the second half. He figures to improve with age and time in the weight room. Will it be enough hold off McLaughlin? He was no world-beater at Alabama, but experience and age are valuable tools in the trenches.

Ohio State had no depth on the line last season, a problem that seems like it might be solved, but the ceiling of the top unit is still unclear.

The good news is Kelly made a living at previous stops manufacturing a running game from less-than-premium material, so the key to this season could be how he and Frye are able to manipulate the scheme to fit this group’s ability, whatever that might be.

About the Author