September 21, 2012

Hall sees the line improving

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - There are only a few certainties in life these days in this ever-changing world. Death and taxes have been mainstays on the list since the beginning of lists but complaints about Ohio State's offensive line have made their way to the list over the past decade.

A combination of recruits not panning out, injuries and maybe just getting beat by superior defensive lines have all been a part of the issues in the past. The 2012 offensive line is out to try and change the trend and while they have not put together their best game though the first three contests, they believe that they have all of the ability to be a top unit and worthy of cheers rather than jeers.

"I feel like we have had a couple of mistakes (so far this year)," offensive guard Marcus Hall said. "I am so pumped about getting better that I would say we are about a C+ and not even be bothered by it because I know we can be so much better than we are right now."

The line had to replace three graduating seniors from last year, bring in a new position coach and even see a player move from the tight end position to take over the role of right tackle. Now the line that is comprised of four juniors and a senior are looking to jell into one cohesive unit.

But the transition is not without some bumps on the road. Not a single player on the line is happy with the amount of penalties that has hit the line. Some are more of the routine "false start" type of penalties while others are far from the garden variety "personal fouls" for extra-curricular action after the whistle.

Any penalty can be costly and even a five-yard penalty can turn a 2nd-and-two into a 2nd-and-seven but the personal fouls have changed complexions of drives and drawn the ire of the coaches. How do players playing a violent game that requires them to be on the edge not cross the line and fall into emotional penalties?

"You have to play to the whistle and that is how I always try and judge it," Hall said. "You might get a little chippy after the whistle but you have to keep your composure and keep your cool. When things are going after the whistle, if you are still engaged it is not really a big deal because you are playing through the whistle but it is those dumb, bonehead penalties that we can't have."

The job of the offensive line is made much more difficult with a quarterback like Braxton Miller lining up behind them. That doesn't mean that they don't see it as a positive by any stretch of the imagination but it is much more difficult to maintain your responsibilities with a player who can extend plays well beyond the four to six seconds you would expect out of a pocket passer.

"It is a world of difference because we don't want to miss any assignments but if we do, he can get out of it and maybe even score a touchdown on a broken play," Hall said. "There are not many quarterbacks that can do that, he is just crazy with his feet and we look at it as a plus instead of a cop out."

Tuesday practices are a chance for both Miller and the line to work in tandem in gaining the chemistry necessary to turn those broken plays into big results. The practices have been dubbed 'Bloody Tuesdays' and are supposed to be tougher than the actual game in some regards.

"I would say there is nothing mental about Tuesday practices," Hall said. "We just come out and hit and hit and hit. We go ones-against-ones and it just gets crazy. I would say Thursday is more mentally grueling because you have your assignments, but Tuesday is just straight up physical."

And the tone of Tuesday practice carries over to position coach Ed Warinner, a coach who is cut from a different cloth than some of the past coaches that Hall has learned under.

"I would say he is a lot more intense and a lot more hands-on, he is always pumped and a very high energy guy," Hall said. "In the past I haven't had many high energy offensive line coaches like him."

Hall stopped short of saying that Warinner was a bit of a "yeller" when it came to his coaching style but did joke that there was a period of where the line had to get used to a new style of coaching.

"We have learned to adjust to it," Hall said with a laugh. "At first it was kind of crazy but we learned to adjust to coach. He is the coach so we have to learn to adjust to him because he is not going to adjust to us."


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