SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — On the first day of Fiesta Bowl interviews, nobody was shy about addressing Ohio State’s 6-foot-7, 310-pound elephant in the room.
The Ohio State offensive line has been scrutinized like no other position on the team. The Buckeyes surrendered six sacks in a loss to Penn State and eight in their narrow win over Michigan. More than anyone else, right tackle Isaiah Prince has been the chief target of fan angst and media inquiries.
The sophomore has had moments when he’s looked great. Against Northwestern, he played one of the best games in the country that week. However, his bad games have been particularly ugly.
Ohio State RT Isaiah Prince allowed 14 QB pressures vs Penn State—the highest number we have recorded for an individual single player.
— CFB Film Room (@CFBFilmRoom) October 26, 2016
Given that Clemson ranks third in the country in sacks per game, it’s not hard to understand why there might be some questions about Ohio State’s pass blocking. Based on what’s transpired in the past month, however, any failures by Prince won’t be because of lack of effort.
“His mentality has been so locked in,” center Pat Elflein said. “He’s been trying to get better and trying to get his play up. His approach to practice has been great. His mentality has been great, and he’s been getting better.”
Prince certainly has the potential to be a great lineman. He has elite size and athleticism, and he looks like a prototypical offensive tackle. As a recruit coming out of high school, 247Sports composite rankings listed him as a 4-star prospect. He was the No. 7 offensive tackle and No. 105 overall recruit in the class of 2015.
Offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, who recruited Prince and used to coach the offensive line, said he’s seen results since the Buckeyes last played Nov. 26. In the month since the Buckeyes last took the field, Prince has increased his level of play.
“He’s had a really good prep,” Warinner said. “Isaiah is very interested in improving and taking care of his business. He’s very coachable, really good attitude and demeanor. He’s a very talented guy, but he was young and had a few things in his game he needed to clean up. What I’ve seen in practice – and we go against our defense a lot at this time of year – his level of play and execution have really improved in these couple of weeks.”