Football

Greg Studrawa, Buckeye Offensive Line Talk Ohio State Spring Ball, Versatility

Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa spoke with reporters on Wednesday to provide some updates on his position room. Also joining the nearly hour-long Zoom session were offensive linemen Thayer Munford, Luke Wyper, Paris Johnson, and Nick Petit-Frere. Here are the highlights of everything that was said.

Greg Studrawa

— The interior of the line is going well right now. A lot of guys are getting reps. Matt Jones and Luke Wypler are getting the majority of the reps at center. Guards have a bunch of guys in there, including Josh Fryar and Trey Leroux. Paris Johnson is there as well.

— Josh Fryar is athletic and has grit and they like his ability to do multiple things.

— Paris Johnson is a kid who is very, very mentally tough, just like Josh Fryar. And without having that first, you wouldn’t be able to play multiple positions. “Paris is such a student of the game.” Studrawa has to kick Paris Johnson out of his office at times because he’s always asking questions. That’s made it a smooth transition to guard.

— The offensive line doesn’t have a clue about the quarterback battle.

— There are 11 guys in the room taking part in their first spring. You think they’re veterans because they’ve been here, but they’ve lost a year of development. The expectation level remains, but this is their first time going through spring. So instead of figuring out who is where, he’s enjoying being able to build toughness and build this foundation. Those 11 guys are still learning but they’re all developing. That will be the focus until the end of spring.

— Why put Paris Johnson at guard instead of one of the tackles? He considered moving one of those guys instead — it could change — but he wanted to keep two of the best tackles in the country right where they were. To have those two guys protecting the young quarterbacks, that’s what is best for this team. Josh Fryar is a fantastic tackle, but he’s getting a look at guard because he can also help in pass protection.

— The assumption is that Harry Miller will be one of the best five. Whether that’s at center or guard, they’ll see.

— They are doing the same virtual learning with Donovan Jackson that they did with Harry Miller two years ago. He’ll have an opportunity to be one of the five just like anybody else.

— Dawand Jones is a little banged up right now so he’s been out for a couple of days. He was doing well. His weight is down, he’s in good shape. This is also his first spring. He gives them depth but he gives them an opportunity to play different guys at different places. He’ll be back this spring.

— Couldn’t be more excited about the depth of the OL room compared to when he arrived. For the first time he had five guys he could rely on. But now to have depth, it showed at Michigan State last year. They lost those guys the night before the game. For those guys to be able to play that well is a testament to the room. When the room saw that, it gave everybody confidence that they can play. But now it has also given them the confidence to go and challenge the starters.

— Matt Jones is one of the most improved linemen on the team. With some guys, learning and getting themselves prepared is as much mental as physical. Jones has always had the physical tools. Eventually guys get tired of watching and not starting, so their demeanor changes and their toughness and attitude creates a turnaround. He has carried it over to this spring. “The kid has been a different guy.”

— Nick Petit-Frere? They are focusing on his pad level and to get him to bend more. That will make him a more productive run blocker. They’ve got his strength up to make him a better run blocker. “He’s got to become elite, and that’s what we’re focusing on right now.”

— On Thayer Munford: “I can’t tell you how far he’s come.” He had back surgery and missed eight months of everything. And then he played well in 2019, but it wasn’t at the level he wanted. Then he got a year of training and showed it last year. His attention to detail is there. The degree from OSU is important, but he also returned because he’s not peaked yet. He’s got a chance to be the best tackle in the country if he wants to be — and he does. “He wants to be a first rounder.” He’s a driven player right now.

— The true freshmen missed the first week due to illness, so they started behind. But they rotate so much that they’re now getting some reps in various drills. They get a ton of work in the individual work, but during team drills they are watching because it wouldn’t be as productive to put them out there until they’re ready and up to speed after individual drills and technique work.

— The versatility of this line is so important. When you recruit athletic guys who can play multiple positions, it gives you an ability to put your best five on the field. And it’s easier to have a best sixth because guys can move around if need be. “I’ve got a smart room. They study so much.” The young guys are asking questions too. “They want to learn everything.” And when you have a room like that, you can move guys around because they have an understanding of the line overall.

— Luke Wypler is a rugged, tough Jersey guy. Here’s a story, the kids were allowed to go home after the Alabama game. The day after the game, Wypler is sending Studrawa film of him working at the WHAC wanting critiqued. He never went home to see his family. “A guy that cares that much and is that dedicated and has the tools — he’s really good at snapping the ball and stepping… — a guy that works that hard, you’re going to be successful.”

Thayer Munford

— Being made better by the defensive ends but he’s not satisfied.

— Paris Johnson’s maturity level has been tremendous. Freshman year guys get antsy, but he’s settled down into the guard role. He’s also helping out his classmates and the guys younger than he is. He’s also pushing Thayer. When guys have bad days, you try to pick each other up.

— Looking back at Josh Fryar from last year to now, he is also more mature. He likes the competition of it. “His work ethic has been good.” Everybody sees it. He’s a good all-around player. “I’m happy for him too.”

— “I do believe I will be the best tackle that’s coming out of next year’s draft.” If you keep working at it, you’re going to get there. He’s happy Studrawa thinks that as well, but there is still work to do.

— Matt Jones could start at center or guard. His work ethic is going to get better. He didn’t have the best career his first two years but his mental state is a lot better right now.

— He’s a leader by example. Younger guys may not get how Studrawa coaches so he’s there to help them. “I love doing that.” The young guys under him are going to be great leaders in the future and he’s there to keep guys on the same page.

Luke Wypler

— After the national championship game there was a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. For him, he knows what he’s up against this year and there are two open jobs on the offensive line, so he wanted to make sure he put himself in the best shape to best the best player he could be.

— Jersey tough is a stereotype but it comes from how he was raised by hard-working parents. “Things are never handed to you in life.” If you want something, you have to work for it. “I try to own that mentality every day.” “I’m a Jersey Shore guy all the way through.”

— The tackles set a great example for the interior guys. They are the pillars. The competition inside is great. They all came here to compete. Every day they are competing but they are still helping each other out. They bounce questions off each other every day.

— His biggest jump has just come from his comfort in the offense. He’s gotten stronger as well. “I really bought into the strength program.” They didn’t have a chance to do that last year being sent home. He’s now stronger and more advanced with the offense which helps him at center.

— It’s a hard transition from tackle to guard but Paris Johnson is making a seamless transition. He’s learning the nuances of everything. “I think he’s just a great athlete. He tries to bring violence to the field and when you bring that mindset to the field you can play anywhere.”

— The next man up mentality has continued this spring. It was key last year and it’s not going away.

Paris Johnson

— When he was recruited by Ohio State he looked at the depth chart and saw that by his sophomore year he saw there would be an opening at tackle. That didn’t work out and he’s more than happy to play that position.

— What’s the biggest thing to learn at guard? When you’re at tackle you’re by yourself, but when you’re at guard you’re no longer on an island and you have to be able to help others.

— The reps at guard last year were really valuable. He was excited to be out there late last year and getting to play in the playoffs. It allowed him to get a taste of the action from a different position than he was expecting. It allowed him to look forward to playing guard this year.

— It’s easy to switch from right to left guard because the balance is similar. It’s harder to go from right tackle to left tackle because the movement is different.

— Thayer Munford told him his thoughts on coming back and asked for his feedback. They agreed that getting his degree was important and that when you leave Ohio State you won’t to do it at your highest level. Johnson was all for him returning. “I was excited about it.”

— Right now, he can show the NFL his versatility this year by playing guard, so that adds value. Next year he can show them tackle next year if that’s what the team needs. When you play in the NFL, you can just be a left tackle or a right tackle. The rosters don’t allow for that. Playing guard will show the league he can do whatever they need and that will add value.

— Nick Petit-Frere has had the biggest impact on him this spring because they are playing next to each other this spring. Nick had a great bond with Wyatt Davis last year and this year Johnson and NPF have been building that same bond. They are complementing each other’s abilities.

Nick Petit-Frere

— It’s been a great time being able to be back in the facility during winter and spring. This is where the team is developed and the bond is built.

— He and Thayer Munford were prepared to move to guard if that was needed. They have to know the entire offense anyway. They want the best five and whoever that is, you fill in the positions.

— He’s been very impressed with the middle of the offensive line. “All these guys have shown a lot of great skill.” They all show intuition about playing on the line.

— He’s giving Paris Johnson advice about yeah, last year it was Nick and Wyatt and they can try to replicate that, but this year it’s Nick and Paris, so this is Paris’ story to write.

— Everybody’s journey here is different. But through those struggles, comes growth and development as both a player and person.

— Coming in as a freshman, this was the most competitive place he’d ever seen. Everybody strives for excellence. Through that growth came trials and tribulations about trying to feel comfortable with the team. It took time. He got there a little bit as a sophomore, but you don’t know what you don’t know. He’s come through each struggle as a better man and player.

— The main goal is to keep doing what he’s doing but never stay the same. Keep doing what got him to this point. Nothing should change with the drive and work ethic.

— Thayer Munford has a lot of confidence about himself. He had a great winter. He’s showing what he wants to do. He’s been doing a lot of film work and doing everything he needs to achieve being the best in the nation.

— The offensive line has made good progress this spring. Everybody is developing and they’re creating the edge and discipline that is needed. He and Munford look at this season as being leaders and having a responsibility to lead this group.