Ohio State spotlight: LT Jack Mewhort

Tim May, The Columbus Dispatch
Jack Mewhort

Getting even is only one aspect of motivation for a football team, Ohio State left tackle Jack Mewhort said, but it will be part of the equation today when the Buckeyes play host to Purdue, which upset OSU in overtime at its place a year ago.

"You always have that in the back of your mind," Mewhort said. "But it's a Big Ten home game in the 'Shoe, so that's the biggest thing for us."

The improved offensive line will play a major role for the Buckeyes if they are to atone for last season's defeat. The line has powered a running game that is ranked eighth nationally (263.5-yard average), and second in the Big Ten, behind Nebraska (292.0).

Coach Urban Meyer said that center Corey Linsley is the hub of the unit, but Mewhort is the wheel horse.

"Mewhort is probably playing the best, but it all starts with our center," Meyer said. "The mentality, the attitude, the demeanor, that all starts with the center. But Jack Mewhort is probably the most consistent right now."

It showed in the Buckeyes' 52-49 win at Indiana last Saturday night. The coaching staff named Mewhort one of three offensive players of the game after he earned a 91 percent grade in terms of carrying out his assignments. He gave up no sacks or quarterback pressures.

Meyer also noted that "12 times, the guy he was blocking ended up on the ground. He played very hard and with great effort."

That's lavish praise for an offensive lineman. But Mewhort knows that he and his fellow linemen are judged more as a unit, as they were last year when they had trouble dealing with Purdue's defensive front seven.

He's not expecting a cakewalk this time, either, even though the Boilermakers are last in the Big Ten in rushing defense, having given up 304 yards to Michigan and 467 to Wisconsin the past two games.

"I know Purdue has a really good defense," said Mewhort said, recalling how the Buckeyes eked out only 166 yards rushing in last season's 26-23 loss. "They've got some big names up front that we're going to have to account for.

"I know the offensive line is going to go to work (and) make sure we can handle them up front, and that's what we expect to do."