Three yards and a cloud of dust.
It’s a mantra that has been a staple of the Big Ten and Ohio State football from Woody Hayes through Jim Tressel, and its focus is on controlling and winning games through a dominant running game.
As coach Urban Meyer transitions the Buckeyes into the more dynamic spread offense, new offensive line coach and run game coordinator Ed Warinner will be entrusted with meshing past and future within the Buckeyes’ rushing attack.
While the spread offense is traditionally viewed as being more pass-oriented, Warinner said there is always place for a physical running game in any offense, including Meyer’s.
“We’re going to win football games within the structure of coach Meyer’s philosophy and offensive system,” Warinner said Jan. 12 at an introductory press conference for the coaching staff. “We do believe that you can run the ball in the spread offense. We do believe you can be physical up front, and we do want to control the line of scrimmage.
“We won’t be a finesse running attack, we will not be that. Some people equate the spread with finesse running and that will not be us at all. We will be a physical, aggressive, attacking offensive line and running game.”
Warinner, who will also hold the title of co-offensive coordinator for OSU, served as offensive line coach at Notre Dame for the last two seasons and added the responsibilities of run game coordinator last season. As offensive coordinator for Kansas from 2007-2009, Warinner’s offenses averaged 445.5 yards and 35.3 points per game. Prior to the 2011 season, he was named one of the “Top 20 Hottest Assistant Coaches” in the nation by Rivals.com. Warinner will make $350,000 in 2012 as a member of Meyer’s staff.
“I really wanted to hire a coach with coordinator experience,” Meyer said of his decision to pursue Warinner. “That was very important to me. (Warinner) has that experience, his offenses at Kansas were not only impressive, but they were some of the top offenses in the country.”
A Strasburg, Ohio, native with degrees from University of Mount Union and the University of Akron, Warinner said the only school he would be willing to leave his job at Notre Dame for was OSU.
“I’m extremely excited because this is home to me,” Warinner said. “This is a dream job … it was going to take a certain type of place to get me to leave Notre Dame and it had to be this place.”
Warinner inherits an OSU offensive line that will lose three starters to graduation in center Mike Brewster and tackles Mike Adams and J.B. Shugarts. The process of filling those holes will be a “fluid situation,” Warinner said, and that versatility to play multiple positions will be a focus during spring practices.
While some offensive line coaches have a specific build or body type that they look for in their recruits and players, Warinner said playing ability is his most important criteria.
“No. 1, we want great football players,” he said. “So dimensions aren’t as important as getting great football players.”
In any event, the Buckeyes will have to complement their run game with effective pass protection to be successful, Warinner said.
“Those are our two jobs, to be able to run the ball consistently and protect the quarterback,” he said. “So that’s how I gauge it. If we can do one and not the other then we’re not good enough. We have to do them both really well.”
Read The Lantern on Thursday for the next profile in the “Meyer’s New Men” coaching staff profile series.