Ohio State looks to establish quick unity on o-line

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No matter how talented Ohio State may be on offense at the skill positions, without a solid offensive line providing protection none of it will matter. The Buckeyes lose four starters on the offensive line, returning just one, so this spring the focus on the offense should be starting up front.

“We’re not really worried about who we lost,” sophomore Pat Elflein said to The Columbus Dispatch. “We’re just worried about who we’ve got now. We’re just focused on getting better every day. We definitely have some big shoes to fill, but we’re capable of it.”

To recap, Ohio State is losing Jack Mewhort, Marcus Hall, Corey Linsley and Andrew Norwell to the NFL. They return junior Taylor Decker, who is moving from right tackle to left tackle. Ohio State will not be lacking in potential on the offensive line though. Ohio State just recruited four four-star offensive linemen in the Class of 2014 according to Rivals.com, and the Class of 2012 that is coming in to their own now also included three four-star recruits, including Decker. The offensive line has the individual talent to be one of the top units in the Big Ten, one that helps separate Ohio State from most of the rest of the conference, but as was put on display by Michigan State and Clemson in Ohio State’s two-game season-ending losing streak, it is far from being a dominant force that could compete for a championship.

Last season saw Ohio State give up 22 sacks, which was in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten and a stat that is relatively common for a team with a quarterback who can make plays happen with his feet. But quarterback Braxton Miller has been roughed up in his time in Columbus. The Orange Bowl resulted in a lingering injury that sees Miller limited at best this spring as he rehabs following surgery on his throwing shoulder. If keeping Miller healthy is the biggest key to success this season for Ohio State, then consider the offensive line the key master (or are they the gate keepers?).

Finding an identity as a unit on the offensive line will be critical for Ohio State. That begins now.

Nick Saban, on QB controversy: ‘there isn’t one’

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Consider The Nicktator perturbed.  Again.

Jalen Hurts (pictured, right) helped lead Alabama to the national championship game as a true freshman last season and is seemingly the Crimson Tide’s unquestioned starter as we trudge toward summer.  Five-star 2017 signee Tua Tagovailoa (pictured, left), however, had an impressive first spring in Tuscaloosa, capped off with an excellent showing in the annual A-Day game this past weekend.

The true freshman passed for 315 yards and three touchdowns in what amounted to a glorified scrimmage, while the incumbent threw for 301 yards and a pair of scores.  Hurts also tossed the lone interception between the two on the day.

Tagovailoa’s showing throughout the 15 spring practice sessions had led some to wonder whether there could be a quarterback controversy brewing at ‘Bama.  According to Nick Saban, that’s just the media being the media.

“Jalen Hurts played a lot of good football for us last year, and he’s certainly made a lot of progress this spring,” the head coach said by way of al.com. “Even though all of you in the press are trying to make a quarterback controversy out of nothing, which is what you’re doing right now, there isn’t one.”

LOOK: Jim Harbaugh hooks Pope Francis up with Michigan helmet, pair of Jordans

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There’s a series of words I’d never imagined I’d string together in a headline.

As you may have heard, Jim Harbaugh has taken his Michigan football team to Italy for an offseason European vacation.  As part of the trip, the team is in the Vatican City today and took in the Pope’s Wednesday address to the masses in St. Peter’s Square — the players and athletic director Warde Manuel sat amongst the crowd while the head coach and his wife were seated on the same stage as Pope Francis.

Following the address, and after a wait of nearly a half-hour, Harbaugh was able to meet with and speak to His Holiness.  The coach didn’t come empty-handed, either, as Pope Francis was gifted with a Michigan football helmet and a pair of Air Jordans.  Michigan-themed, of course.

“This is as good as it gets,” Harbaugh said according to mlive.com after his meeting with the pope. “This has been the experience of my lifetime.”

Tulane turns to Jonathan Banks as starter at QB

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Last season, there was just one FBS team — Army and its triple-option (967) — that passed for fewer yards than Tulane’s 1,360.  Tulane’s team passing efficiency rating of 93.12 was 128th of the 128 teams at this level of football.  Their completion percentage of 42.2 was, again, 128th in the FBS.  Their 5.3 yards per attempt was… 127th.

This season, the Green Wave’s passing hopes in a run-heavy offense will likely land on the shoulders of a junior college transfer.

Throughout the spring, Jonathan Banks had taken the majority of reps with the first-team offense.  Tuesday, Willie Fritz confirmed that Banks will be his starter under center heading into summer camp and, presumably, for the program’s season opener against Grambling at home Sept. 2.

At least for now, Banks has staked his claim to the job after a competition that included Glen Cuiellette and Jonathan Brantley, the starter and backup, respectively, last season.

“He did a good job this spring picking things up,” the head coach said according to nola.com. “We evaluated practices 1 through 15 and I thought, for a guy coming into a new situation, he did a very good job. He provides us with both a passing and a running threat, which in our offense you need to have.

“We’re excited about his development.”

Drew O’Bryan leaves Western Kentucky, drops down to FCS level

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Another day, another FBS player has transitioned away from his first college football home.

On his personal Twitter account recently, Drew O’Bryan acknowledged his decision to transfer from Western Kentucky. Additionally, he announced his next destination for good measure — Eastern Kentucky.

The linebacker said he made the decision “[a]fter talking with my family and many prayers.”

As EKU plays at the Football Championship Subdivision level, O’Bryan will be eligible to play immediately for the Colonels in 2017.

O’Bryan was a two-star member of WKU’s 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 18 player at any position in the state of Kentucky. He took a redshirt as a true freshman.