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Ohio State's offensive line will have some new starters in 2018.

Can new starters on Ohio State offensive line avoid early struggles?

Ryan Ginn

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Let’s start with a trip down memory lane. Ohio State’s 2014 offensive line, which powered the Buckeyes to a College Football Playoff title, featured Taylor Decker at left tackle, Pat Elflein at left guard, Jacoby Boren at center, Billy Price at right guard and Darryl Baldwin at right tackle. Decker and Price were NFL first-round draft picks and Elflein was selected in the third round. Those three players were All-Americans, and Elflein and Price each won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s best center.

But at the start of the 2014 season, that group was ransacked by Virginia Tech after some struggles against Navy one week prior. The Hokies finished with 7 sacks, six of which came in the fourth quarter, to hand the Buckeyes their only loss of the season. That line essentially had four first-time starters (Elflein started one game in 2013) and Decker had moved from right to left tackle. Over the course of his career, Price spoke frequently about how hard it was as a young starter — especially at a demanding position where mistakes are costly.

Since then, other first-year starters have struggled, most notably right tackle Isaiah Prince against Penn State, Michigan and Clemson in the 2016 season. With a few first-year starters in 2018, it’s totally reasonable to think there will be some rough patches along the way.

Ohio State has some uncertainty on the offensive line, but the most likely lineup at this point seems to be Thayer Munford at left tackle, Michael Jordan at left guard, Brady Taylor at center, Demetrius Knox at right guard and Prince at right tackle. Redshirt freshman Josh Myers is battling Taylor for the center spot.

Munford and Taylor or Myers would be first-year starters, and Knox has started just a handful of games after taking over after Branden Bowen broke his leg in 2017. The good news for Ohio State is that Taylor and Knox are fifth-year seniors who have spent years practicing against one of the best defensive lines in the country. Still, there’s a difference between doing that and starting games, and it’s also possible that two of those starters — Munford and Myers, if he wins the center battle — would be second-year players.

Ultimately, everything will be fine over the course of the season. Ohio State has recruited really good players and has solid depth, especially on the interior. The Buckeyes never have had unit-wide struggles or a rough overall season on the offensive line during the Urban Meyer era.

Still, it would be foolish to expect no blemishes from a group that likely will feature a few unproven players, including a sophomore left tackle. There are going to be some rough outings. But with that being said, those struggles almost certainly won’t last over the course of the season.

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