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Published: 11/1/2012

Offensive line coach Ed Warinner screams success

BY DAVID BRIGGS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

COLUMBUS — Ur­ban Meyer saw re­mak­ing a clumsy of­fen­sive line as the most im­por­tant chal­lenge of his first sea­son at Ohio State, and he knew just the type of guy for the job.

“My vi­sion of a line coach is the tough­est guy on your staff," Meyer said.

He found his man in Ed Warin­ner — and his play­ers’ ears have not stopped ring­ing since.

Meet the in-your-face in­tel­lec­tual be­hind the most dra­matic trans­for­ma­tion on the sixth-ranked Buck­eyes.

Re­mem­ber last win­ter when Meyer la­beled the line “non-func­tional?” Not any­more. The same unit that yielded 46 sacks last sea­son — the most by a Big Ten team in four sea­sons — and lost three start­ers who signed with NFL teams is now a cor­ner­stone strength.

An­chored by left tackle and St. John’s Je­suit grad­u­ate Jack Mew­hort, the crew of four ju­niors and a se­nior has kept quar­ter­back Brax­ton Miller safer in the pocket and cleared room for one of the coun­try’s top rush­ing of­fenses. The Buck­eyes’ 248 ground yards per game is fourth-most among BCS schools.

“That’s the whole rea­son why we are where we are to­day,” Meyer said re­cently of the line, which has al­lowed just 18 sacks through nine games. “Tell it the way it is. Our of­fen­sive line is com­ing on.”

Can a new staff and, more spe­cif­i­cally, one man re­ally make all the dif­fer­ence?

“Well, Ed Warin­ner can make that dif­fer­ence,” for­mer Kan­sas coach Mark Mangino said in a phone in­ter­view Wed­nes­day. “There may be a lot of folks in the state of Ohio that are sur­prised, but I’m not. I liked Ed so much, I hired him twice at Kan­sas.”

Play­ers say the 51-year-old Warin­ner is just who they needed, though the tran­si­tion from more un­der­stated for­mer line coach Jim Boll­man took some time. It did not help that a hand­ful of line­men missed Meyer’s first team meet­ing and a cou­ple showed up late for the sec­ond.

“He was a cool guy, easy to talk to, good dude when I first met him,” cen­ter Co­rey Lin­s­ley said of Warin­ner. “Then they all kind of found out about the of­fen­sive line — not that he didn’t know com­ing in — but coach Meyer re­ally ex­posed our rep­u­ta­tion as soft, lazy, not play­ing up to our abil­ity, and the true coach Warin­ner came out – the mo­ti­va­tor, the screamer. He’s a yeller and a mo­ti­va­tor, that’s what he is. It’s made us all bet­ter.”

Lin­s­ley learned Warin­ner yelled “be­cause he loves you,” and found it easy to fall in line be­hind a coach who seemed to know ev­ery­thing.

Meyer said Warin­ner re­minded him of Steve Adazzio, a for­mer Flor­ida as­sis­tant who pro­gressed from line coach to of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor and is now head coach at Temple. Warin­ner was also given the ti­tle of co-of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

“I wanted to hire a tough guy that's very in­volved in the game-plan­ning, be­cause some­times line coaches just go live in their world,” Meyer said. “The thing I liked about Ed War­ri­ner is he was the of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor at Kan­sas when they went to the Orange Bowl. He's got a great con­cept of the big pic­ture.”

A Stras­burg, Ohio, na­tive who played run­ning back at Mount Union, Warin­ner im­me­di­ately gained Mangino’s full trust at Kan­sas. Mangino, who was the of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor of Okla­homa’s 2000 na­tional cham­pi­on­ship team, felt com­fort­able del­e­gat­ing more than usual to his tire­less as­sis­tant.

Warin­ner was the co­or­di­na­tor in 2007 when the tra­di­tion­ally dole­ful Jay­hawks av­er­aged a na­tional-best 42.8 points per game and went 12-1. The next sea­son, he was a fi­nal­ist for the Amer­i­can Foot­ball Coaches As­so­ci­a­tion’s na­tional as­sis­tant of the year award.

“I told him ex­actly what I was look­ing for, all the de­tails, the phi­los­o­phy, the par­tic­u­lars,” Mangino said of Warin­ner, who served as his of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor from 2007 to 2009. “Ed was such an in­tel­li­gent guy and great foot­ball mind that he put to­gether things per­fectly in the vi­sion I had. I was as­ton­ished. Every de­tail that I had talked about, he not only im­ple­mented it but he made it bet­ter.

“He can take a play and watch it on tape and cri­tique all 11 guys from the very first step they take to the way they fin­ish the play. Ed could cri­tique one play for an hour if you al­lowed him to. But I told him, ‘Our coaches have to go home to bed and get some rest, and see their fam­i­lies.”

Mangino said he sees Warin­ner as a head coach some­day, as do oth­ers. Rivals.com last year named Warin­ner, who spent the last two sea­sons coach­ing the of­fen­sive line at Notre Dame, as one of the top 20 as­sis­tants primed to take that step.

For now, though, he is all-in at OSU. He knows no other way.

"He’s re­lent­less," Mew­hort said. "He never lets up, but that’s ex­actly what we needed."

Times have changed.

“We’re not go­ing to get pushed around,” Warin­ner said.

Con­tact David Briggs at: dbriggs@the­blade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twit­ter @DBriggsBlade.



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