OSU O-line: From 'nonfunctional' to team leaders

Associated Press Modified: October 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm •  Published: October 10, 2012
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Fragel, converted from tight end to starting right tackle this spring, is the tallest at 6-foot-8, although the group averages 6-6. Linsley is the "lightest" at 295 pounds, even though there's only a 20-pound variance between him and the heaviest, Hall.

They're used to standing out.

"When we walk into a room together, go out to eat, all eyes are on us because we're not average people," Norwell said.

He said it's not togetherness but plain old effort that made them more than functional.

"It was just hard work, coming in every day and getting coached hard," said Norwell, his long hair tied back in a ponytail. "You take baby steps and just move forward."

Even opposing coaches have noticed the transformation. The Buckeyes play at Indiana (2-3, 0-2) on Saturday night.

"Everybody talks about the spread. You can talk tempo, you can talk shotgun, but the game is still a physical game," Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson said. "It's (requires) a physical presence and it starts in a couple of areas. (Up front) they're making some great strides. I've been very, very impressed with their line."

Now if there was just more of them. Meyer frets that even the slightest injury to anybody arrayed along the front wall could be a disaster for the paper-thin Buckeyes.

"Our backups are nonfunctional," Meyer said. "God bless us, if a shoe string breaks or something, we're going to call timeout and get a new shoe string because we just don't have the depth there right now (to sub somebody else in)."

The starters, however, continue to play every down and make every play. They've helped turn quarterback Braxton Miller into a Heisman Trophy contender and the running attack into a facsimile of what it used to be back in the glory days of Archie Griffin and Eddie George.

"We're not a finished product there. We still have a lot of things to continue to grow and clean up and get better at," line coach Ed Warinner said. "But they're really playing hard and they're starting to understand what we really want in the spread offense."

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