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Offensive lineman, Brody Rodgers (79), lines up before the play starts during the home game against the Akron Zips. (FILE)

Football: Ohio's offensive line has grown through experience

Allen Rudolph has been coaching for 24 years. He’s been hired by 11 football programs, including Ohio, and has worked with numerous offensive linemen during his career.

Whenever Rudolph accepts a new coaching position, he always looks to see if there was anything he may need to tweak. When Rudolph was hired as Ohio’s offensive line coach in 2019, he didn’t see a program in need of overhaul. Instead, he saw a culture of positivity and accountability that he wanted to help develop. 

“Part of groups that I’ve been around in the past,” Rudolph said, “They were positive, they lifted each other up, but I also think it’s very important for the culture of the room that if a guy’s not living up to his end of the bargain, he’s not being accountable, that other guys hold them accountable. I think we have that in this group, which is super positive.” 

The culture has been steadily building itself up over the course of several seasons. Rudolph credits the linemen who came before his hiring — former Bobcats like Joe Lowery and Joe Anderson — for forming the program’s foundation that’s carried into Rudolph’s time with the Bobcats. 

In the past, Ohio’s offensive line has protected stars such as former quarterback Nathan Rourke and former running back A.J. Ouellette, which helped them become some of Ohio’s best offensive players in recent memory. 

Now, Ohio’s line is in charge of protecting the current generation. Quarterback Kurtis Rourke will need a strong offensive line in front of him for Ohio’s upcoming game against Syracuse. Luckily for Rourke, he’s playing with potentially one of the strongest offensive line units in the Mid-American Conference.

The Bobcats lost only one full-time starter on the offensive line from last season, center Brett Kitrell. Six offensive linemen have started before this season. Returning veterans such as Hagen Meservy, Brody Rodgers and Nick Sink all bring experience that will only benefit the Bobcats this season. Even younger players like Parker Titsworth feel confident this season due to the the unit’s collective experience.

“The chemistry is all there,” Titsworth said. “Everyone’s used to playing with each other. The camaraderie and the brotherhood’s always there with us. I’d say we’re the closest unit on the team, and we try to expand our camaraderie within other position groups on the team.” 

Aside from returning talent, redshirt fifth-year T.J. Jackson has been a welcome addition to Ohio’s offensive line. Jackson, a transfer from Virginia Tech, towers over the rest of the unit at 6-feet-7-inches tall and 375 pounds. Although he only recorded two starts during his time with the Hokies, Jackson is agile and will provide Ohio with much-needed size.

Rudolph was reluctant to praise any specific player in the unit. He believes the entire position group is improving each other. The Bobcats are improving themselves by not being afraid to criticize one another.

“I have been very pleased with the individuals that make up the entire group,” Rudolph said.  

Ohio’s first game of the season against Syracuse is just a few days away. It’ll be the first in what can be considered the first normal season for Ohio since 2019. It only played three games of an already shortened six-game schedule last season. This season is a semi-return to normalcy, but the few games played last season might be a detriment to the Bobcats this season.

Titsworth is confident, however. The unit has been preparing for the season since early summer, and Rudolph has been drilling them every day. All that comes next is game day.

“We’re very loose,” Titsworth said. “We’re ready to go.” 


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