Decker could add what OSU offensive line needs

When Ohio State offensive tackle Jack Mewhort imagines Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes' offensive coordinator Tom Herman formulating OSU's offensive game plan, it conjures up visions of lab coats, test tubes and new inventions.
Aug 19, 2013

By Jim Naveau
The Lima News, Ohio
Distributed by MCT

“Those two together, it’s like mad scientists at work,” Mewhort said. “Coach Herman is such a bright guy and a lot of the stuff he draws up is unbelievable. You pair that with a guy like Coach Meyer and being in that room when they're doing it, I couldn't even imagine it.”

Mewhort is one of four returning starters on the offensive line for Ohio State. Five, if you count tight end Jeff Heuerman.

Center Corey Linsley and guards Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall are also back.

The only replacement that needs to be found is someone to fill the right tackle spot Reid Fragel played last season.

It appears sophomore Taylor Decker could be ready provide the missing element on OSU's offensive line.

“Taylor Decker (Vandalia Butler) has solidified himself as a starting candidate,” Meyer said at OSU’s media day.

But Decker isn’t ready to take that as a guarantee he is a starter.

“I won’t say that to myself, not until I step out onto that field for the first game. I don’t think it's been officially stated. I feel like I’ve still got work to do. I started camp well. I want to finish camp well. I just have to keep performing better and better,” he said.

The improvement of Ohio State’s offensive line was one of the big reasons OSU went 12-0 last season.

Recreating or exceeding the production of last year's line will be a key to the Buckeyes' offense this season.

If Ohio State's playmakers — both old and new — are going to be effective, the line has to be on top of its game.

Last year’s line also was very fortunate in regards to injuries. The same five linemen started all 12 games.

Things already are less than perfect in that area.

Linsley was still battling a foot injury from last spring and Norwell was also dealing with a foot issue when OSU started two-a-days.

Meyer says Linsley and Norwell will be ready to go for the opener Aug. 31 against Buffalo. He also is confident the line will be effective.

“I think there’s some very good offensive lines in the Big Ten and Ohio State should be right near the top with those other great lines,” the OSU coach said. “Our offensive line is, without question, the heart and soul of our team.”

Decker, a 6-7, 290-pound Vandalia Butler graduate, wanted to nail down the starting job during spring practice. He wants to make sure the job is his now.

He says he learned a lot about competing after graduating from high school in January 2012 and coming to Ohio State.

“I guess I kind of was a kid coming out of high school, especially since I got here early. I was playing against John Simon and Johnathan Hankins every day in practice and they were kicking my butt. That was tough. That was really tough because they were amazing players,” Decker said. “I felt like I had to grow up and become a college football player.”

Ohio State hopes to see more growth from him this season.

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