ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Redshirt-senior right guard Marcus Hall might steal the headlines for his two-fingered salute to the Michigan fans as he departed from Saturday’s game after being ejected for his involvement in a fight, but it was redshirt-freshman Pat Elflein who stole the show.
“I was just watching it, I knew flags were being thrown,” Elflein said about watching the fight from the sidelines. “I’m always ready no matter what the situation is because you never know what’s going to happen, so this happened so fast and I was ready.”
Elflein, a right guard from Pickerington, Ohio, was inserted into No. 2 OSU’s (12-0, 8-0) 42-41 win against Michigan (7-5, 3-5) midway through the second quarter, and played for the remainder of the game for the Buckeyes.
Redshirt-senior left tackle Jack Mewhort said seeing Elflein perform well wasn’t a surprise, because of how Elflein prepares for games.
“Pat did a tremendous job, I think that speaks a lot to the way he works during the week and he just prepared to go in there and win the game for us. That’s something he did and he embraced it,” Mewhort said. “He’s not a kid anymore after playing in an environment like that. You kind of grow up a little bit and I think that was a really good learning experience for him. He thrived and I think he played really well.”
Mewhort added that Elflein handled a tough situation well for an inexperienced player.
“I’m very proud of him. He went in there under a lot of pressure, and really probably one of the tougher environments we play in, and thrived,” Mewhort said. “Obviously you’re playing against (redshirt-senior center) Corey Linsley who knows everything that’s going on out there and it’s doing a very good job of communicating calls … If those guys weren’t out there, I think he would have been fine.”
In 2013, OSU has started the same five players on the offensive line for every game, with four of those five being seniors or redshirt-seniors.
Having that experience around him in the game to help him was important for his performance, Elflein said.
“They all had my back. Those guys are seniors … They kind of took me in this whole year knowing I was the next guy in,” Elflein said. “But right when I walked out there Corey Linsley, the center, said ‘Calm down, you’re good enough to be out here, I’ve got your back.’ He was giving me tips and I was real calm and we played real well together.”
Although Ohio Stadium draws large crowds week in and week out, Elflein had never played in front of a crowd as large as the one in Michigan Stadium Saturday, with 113,511 fans in attendance.
But despite receiving his first playing time with the first string, Elflein said he wasn’t nervous when his number was called.
“We prepare so well during practice, I wasn’t really that nervous going out there because we’ve worked so hard and prepared so well that I was ready for the moment,” Elflein said. “We’ve got to keep our unit strong, and we’ve got good depth, so I’m always ready.”
Elflein was hesitant to evaluate his performance, but said the line as a whole stepped up well.
“I played all right, I think,” Elflein said. “Our (offensive line), we played really well. The older guys really set the tempo. We’ve got a good culture in that room and I think we performed well today.”
Linsley was impressed with Elflein’s play, going as far as to call it “un-freaking-believable.”
“Let me tell you something: Pat Elflein, that’s a guy right there. He’s going to be a heck of a player,” Linsley said. “When Marcus got thrown out, I can’t tell you, I’ve never felt like that in my life … I was in total and utter shock and awe. Pat came in and Pat did one. I can’t wait for him to grade champion, go up there (and) we’ll all clap him up and just see the smile on his face and it’s going to be amazing.”
Linsley added that everyone should be ready because Elflein is going to develop into a great offensive lineman.
“All year I’ve said to him, I’ve said ‘Man. One day you’re going to be a hell of a player. You’re going to get drafted real high,’” Linsley said. “He’s going to get all these accolades and stuff because he’s a heck of a player.”
There is a chance that Elflein will play against No. 10 Michigan State (11-1, 8-0) next Saturday in the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium at 8 p.m. because Hall’s antics as he left the field might get him suspended, although Meyer said on Sunday that he would not suspend Hall for the game.
Elflein said he will treat next week like any other and will prepare like he is going to play.
“I’m always ready, if my number’s called I’m ready. If not, I’m still ready,” Elflein said.