Big Ten: Chase Farris

INDIANAPOLIS -- Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer met with the media Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium to preview Saturday's Big Ten championship game. Here are a couple of noteworthy items from their sessions:

  • The biggest injury issue revolves around Wisconsin center Dan Voltz, who hurt his ankle last week against Minnesota. Dallas Lewallen, who starts at guard, is the No. 2 center, and the Badgers' depth is thin. Andersen says he's hopeful Voltz will start -- "There's no one tougher," he said -- but if need be, the team is prepared to take the redshirt off true freshman Michael Deiter.
  • [+] EnlargeCardale Jones
    Jay LaPrete/Associated PressOhio State coach Urban Meyer said he saw what he needed to at practice from Cardale Jones and is confident in the quarterback.
  • Cardale Jones remains the mystery man in this game. The Ohio State quarterback will make his starting debut Saturday, replacing the injured J.T. Barrett. Meyer reiterated that he's very confident in Jones. "I saw what we needed to see on Wednesday [in practice]," Meyer said. Barrett and Braxton Miller have made the trip and will offer guidance to Jones wherever they can.
  • Andersen said he doesn't expect the Ohio State offense "to change one bit" with Jones in the game. "He's a big strong kid that can throw the ball very well," Andersen said. "He's shown great speed. He's jumped over people, ran through people. He's definitely an issue to tackle and get on the ground, similar to the young man [Mitch Leidner] we played last week at Minnesota."
  • Meyer has not been happy with the Buckeyes' depth at defensive line and knows that group will be challenged by Wisconsin's massive, physical offensive line. He said Chase Farris, who has spent most of his time on the offensive line, could see snaps on the defensive line Saturday because "he's a big dude that has some quick twitch to him."
  • Ohio State did its walkthrough Friday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium and it was the first time back for Meyer and the returning players since last year's crushing loss to Michigan State that kept them out of the national title game. Meyer said he thought about the loss when he first walked into the building Friday but then moved on quickly. "The older players that played, you'll never forget," he said. "It's an opportunity for us to move forward and get a championship."
  • Andersen said every time Wisconsin players broke a huddle this season, they said the word, "Champs." "I told them , if you're going to say it, you'd better mean it," he said. Andersen expressed his admiration for this group, noting that it had gone through "an unbelievable amount of adversity off the field" with several family situations.
  • Meyer was asked what he's like the night before a big game like Saturday's: "A nut job," he said. "I'm trying to think of the appropriate term. I don't sleep very well. I just keep walking around, staring at the players' eyes. Even when they think I'm not watching them, I'm watching them. I'm insane about that."
  • The fondness between the two coaches -- Andersen worked as an assistant under Meyer for one year at Utah -- was plain to see. As both coaches were on the dais for a planned photo op with the Big Ten championship trophy, they spent several moments catching up. Meyer brought along his son, Nate, a high school freshman, and Andersen jokingly asked if Nate would be going to Wisconsin. The coaches' wives also hugged.

Huge test coming for OSU defensive line

September, 26, 2013
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The clues started popping up in the form of ferocious pass-rushing ends who were dominating spring practice.

By the time training camp and the start of the season rolled around, a couple new bodies were added into the rotation, and Ohio State was starting to show signs that what was thought to be a potential problem was about to be solved.

[+] EnlargeJoey Bosa
Jason Mowry/Icon SMITrue freshman Joey Bosa has been pressed into action and has performed admirably.
Now with four games under their belt, the Buckeyes are reasonably certain that an entirely rebuilt defensive line has gone from possible weakness to legitimate strength.

But even with all the information they’ve compiled -- dating to the end of last season and through an impressive start outside of Big Ten play -- all No. 4 Ohio State really has at this point is a hypothesis. The true test is coming Saturday, with No. 23 Wisconsin and its powerful rushing game visiting Ohio Stadium to provide a more concrete answer about just how good the Buckeyes are up front.

“They have not received the challenge yet like this one,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “This will be the biggest challenge to this point, maybe the rest of the year, for our defensive front seven.

“I know we’ve had conversations about this outfit before, because the run game is real. You can get embarrassed real fast if you're not gap-sound and handling your business.”

The Buckeyes went about their nonconference business with ruthless efficiency and relative ease, relaxing some of the concerns about filling the void left by three graduated seniors and a junior who left early for the NFL draft. But given the level of competition a largely inexperienced unit has faced compared to what it will encounter in the trenches against the Badgers, it’s difficult to reach much of a conclusion until after this weekend’s prime-time matchup.

Ohio State hasn’t been at full strength on the line yet either, with Adolphus Washington missing two games due to a groin injury that has kept him from forming what appears to be a terrific tandem with fellow sophomore Noah Spence. Defensive tackle Michael Bennett was held out of last week’s blowout over Florida A&M, and Ohio State has yet to get a snap out of Tommy Schutt at the position this season due to a preseason foot injury. Those issues have pressed a true freshman into an expanded role at end, where Joey Bosa has shined, and it also forced Meyer to move offensive lineman Chase Farris back over to defense to provide more depth and talent on the interior alongside veteran Joel Hale.

But even with those limitations, the way the Buckeyes have played might give them a bit of extra credit, considering they still rank No. 9 in the nation against the rush and No. 13 in total defense, which also represents marked improvement from some early struggles a year ago in Meyer’s first season with the program. But those numbers haven’t come against teams that can block as physically or run as dangerously as the Badgers, and the nation’s third-ranked rushing attack is the measuring stick that counts for a defense looking to live up to the proud tradition of the Silver Bullets.

“I know people are going to say that it's going to come down to making tackles and stopping big plays and things like that,” defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said. “But if we do a great job up front, we'll be in good shape. If we don't do a great job up front, we'll have a tough time.

“That doesn't mean the back seven don't have to play well. The linebackers and [secondary] are every bit a part of stopping and fitting that run and being a part of that effort as the front seven. But those guys up front are where the game is won and lost.”

Testing a hypothesis doesn’t get much easier than that.

Spring game preview: Ohio State

April, 12, 2013
4/12/13
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It's a big weekend in the Big Ten, with five spring games on tap (Northwestern will wrap up its spring with a regular practice). Only one team is playing in a different city than its campus, and that's the Ohio State Buckeyes. Here's a look at what to expect when the Scarlet squares off against the Gray ...

When: Saturday, 1 p.m. ET

Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati

Admission: General reserved seats are $12 and $5 for ages 2-6; children younger than 2 and students with a valid ID get in for free. Parking is $10.

TV: Live on BTN2Go. Big Ten Network will air the game on tape delay at 7 p.m. ET.

Weather forecast: Partly cloudy, with a high of 54 degrees.

What to watch for:
With some repair work being done at the Horseshoe, the Buckeyes decided to move their spring game south to Cincinnati. This should make for an interesting atmosphere, and it could ultimately serve another purpose: helping Ohio State bridge the gap to the Queen City in recruiting.


Urban Meyer doesn't really need to see Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, Corey "Philly" Brown or Bradley Roby perform in a game-like setting. This is a bigger day for some less-heralded positions, like the right tackle spot that has been an open competition between Taylor Decker and Chase Farris throughout the spring. There will also be a lot of focus on the defensive line, where all four starters are gone from last year. Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington and Michael Bennett are near locks to start there this year, but there is still plenty of competition for playing time in the rotation.

Meyer would also like to see more production out of his receiver group, but don't get too excited if one of them has a breakout performance. Remember Michael Thomas' huge spring game last year as a true freshman? He didn't contribute much during the season and still isn't one of the Buckeyes' top four wideouts. Also keep an eye on the linebacker spots, especially since Ryan Shazier is expected to be limited at best. This is a big offseason for Curtis Grant, the former highly decorated recruit who needs to make an impact this year as a starter for a young unit.

You'll probably see a lot of time for backup quarterbacks Kenny Guiton and Cardale Jones, whom Meyer said showed this spring that he can handle the position. Maybe we'll even see some of the diamond formation with three backs in the backfield that Ohio State has experimented with this spring.

More than anything, it will likely be a celebration of the Buckeyes as they visit a different part of the state.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Several factors usually get mentioned first as reasons for Ohio State's 12-0 season in 2012. Braxton Miller's heroics. Carlos Hyde's emergence. The play of the defense down the stretch, led by John Simon and Ryan Shazier.

But one factor probably doesn't get mentioned enough: the performance of the team's offensive line. A major question mark going into last season, the line shaped up as one of the best in the Big Ten last year under the tutelage of Ed Warriner. And with most of the group back and some better depth, the unit provides a strong reason to believe in the Buckeyes again in 2013.

[+] EnlargeJack Mewhort
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsLeft tackle Jack Mewhort, an all-Big Ten-level talent in 2012, could be the Buckeyes' next great leader.
Warriner turned in one of the better coaching jobs in the league last year, rounding into shape a crew that was previously undistinguished and underwhelming. He turned Reid Fragel, a former tight end, into a standout right tackle who should get drafted later this month. Corey Linsley went from playing guard to one of the conference's top centers, while Jack Mewhort developed into a top-flight left tackle. One of the indelible images of the Buckeyes' season was the line pushing around Michigan State's terrific defense to grind out the victory in East Lansing.

About the only thing Warriner had to worry about last season was health, as there was no experience and precious little depth behind the starters. He doesn't have the same worries this spring.

"It's a nice feeling to know you probably have a backup tackle and a backup guard," he told ESPN.com.

Four starters are back, so the real battle this spring is to replace Fragel at that right-tackle spot. Right now, sophomores Chase Farris and Taylor Decker are splitting a lot of first-team reps there, with Darryl Baldwin also in the mix.

"Those two guys have a lot of ability," Warriner said. "The more comfortable they get and the more confidence they get, one of them could take off -- or maybe both will and we'll play by committee. But they have high-level talent and all the traits of really good linemen."

Head coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday that redshirt freshman Pat Elflein has been one of the surprises of the spring, and he could add depth at guard or tackle. Warriner also said Jacoby Boren is making strides at center. While the team suffered a setback when reserve Antonio Underwood tore his anterior cruciate ligament late last week, the Buckeyes should still be able to rotate more guys on the offensive line this fall.

"If the next man in can play a certain amount but the level doesn't drop off enough to hurt our team, we might do that just to keep the unit fresh and hopefully be smart throughout the season," Warriner said.

But Ohio State will want its veterans on the field as much as possible. Mewhort, whom ESPN.com voted as a first-team All-Big Ten performer, has been hailed as one of the team's best leaders and anointed by Meyer as a possible replacement for Simon in that regard.

"He's what you want in terms of an attitude, of work ethic, of being a competitor," Warriner said. "When you're a first-year starter at a new position with a new coaching staff, sometimes you just worry about your own business, and that was him to some degree last year. But now, he's taking kind of a bigger role with his leadership on offense and even the team as a whole."

Warriner said guards Andrew Norwell, a first All-Big Ten team honoree by the media last season, and Marcus Hall have made maybe the biggest improvements of anyone on the line this offseason. Along with Linsley, whom Warriner said has "elite-level strength," the Buckeyes have the potential to field four all-conference type linemen.

"We think we possibly could, if they play up to their ability level," he said. "The good thing about the group is, they don't really care about that. If we won the Big Ten and none of them made all-conference, they wouldn't care a bit. That's the kind of unselfish players they are."

Warriner said he has challenged the group to help lead a top-five national offensive attack this season. Ohio State led the Big Ten in scoring last year (37.2 points per game) and finished second in rushing yards per game (242.3). The offensive line led the way, though players like Miller and Hall sure helped.

"We know the quality of our skill guys can erase some things and create some big plays," Warriner said. "If you block it for six, you might get 16. At some places, if you block it for six, that's what they'll get -- six yards."

Everything works in concert. But don't forget the Buckeyes' offensive line when talking about reasons for the team's success.

Ohio and future Buckeyes dominate Big 33

June, 20, 2011
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As promised in last week's mailbag, let's take a look at the annual Big 33 game from over the weekend.

The annual showcase for high school players from Ohio and Pennsylvania featured 20 future Big Ten players, including five Ohio State signees. And the Buckeye State got a boost from those future Buckeyes, as Ohio crushed Pennsylvania 50-14.

Ohio State recruits had a big hand in the win. Quarterback Cardale Jones threw two touchdowns passes, strikes of 54 and 40 yards. Receiver Devin Smith caught two touchdowns. Cornerback Doran Grant returned an interception 100 yards for a score.

The Ohio defense -- which featured Grant and future Ohio State defensive linemen Chase Farris and Steve Miller, plus Northwestern signee Andrew Smith -- held Pennsylvania to negative rushing yards.

Will the Buckeyes, though, lament one who got away? Akise Teague was named the game's MVP with 102 rushing yards, 66 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. Mr. Football in Ohio wanted to go to Ohio State but was not offered because of his lack of size. The Youngstown product signed with Cincinnati instead.

Penn State signee Shawn Oakman had said he wanted to help put Philadelphia, his hometown, back on the map. But the big defensive end did not record a tackle.
In a span of less than 30 hours Monday-Tuesday, Ohio State picked up commitments from five recruits for the 2011 class. The Buckeyes on Tuesday also announced a two-year contract extension for head coach Jim Tressel that takes him through the 2014 season.

Coincidence? I think not.

Good news often comes in waves, and Ohio State, which took some heat on National Signing Day after losing two coveted offensive line prospects, just had one.

Let's take a quick look at the five newest Ohio State commits, all in-state prospects, who bring the 2011 class to seven members.

Tip of the cap to ESPN Recruiting for much of the info:
  • Antonio Underwood, OL, 6-3, 300: Committed on Monday during unofficial visit to campus. He had received offers from several Mid-American Conference programs, including Toledo and Miami (Ohio). Michigan and Illinois also had expressed interest. Underwood told The Cleveland Plain Dealer he expects to play center or guard at Ohio State.
  • Chris Carter Jr., OL, 6-4, 340: Committed on Monday during an unofficial visit to Ohio State. Also had offers from NC State and Miami (Ohio) and had received interest from most Big Ten schools. "It's the best choice for me," he said. "The academic support is great and I like the way they treat the players. They help you get adjusted to college life and the coaches really care about you as a person." Carter isn't related to former Buckeyes star Cris Carter.
  • Brian Bobek, C, 6-2, 280: Bobek committed Tuesday to the Buckeyes. He also had offers from Michigan State and Purdue, and his father, Jeff, played at Iowa. Like Underwood and Carter, Bobek was recruited by Ohio State offensive coordinator/line coach Jim Bollman.
  • DerJuan Gambrell, CB, 6-2, 180: Gambrell had an offer from Toledo and committed on Tuesday. He received an offer from Ohio State about a month ago and told the Toledo Blade that he would accept it after talking things over with his family. He runs a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash.
  • Chase Farris, DE, 6-5, 265: Farris committed Tuesday, choosing Ohio State over offers from Notre Dame, Michigan State, Indiana, Illinois, Boston College and others. He recorded 18 tackles for loss and nine sacks as a junior at Elyria Catholic High School.

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