Alex Boone is coming off the finest season he’s had at Ohio State. And he’s gearing up for another game in the national spotlight -- against LSU one week from today in the BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans.
Not long after the worst game of his college career, Alex Boone sat on a bus outside University of Phoenix Stadium. It was a quiet bus that wreaked of disappointment and unreached potential.
Ohio State’s 6-foot-8, 313-pound left tackle just got it handed to him for four quarters against Florida’s faster, more skilled defensive ends -- and an entire nation knew it.
So Boone stood up on his bus before they departed the disaster that was 41-14 and announced to his teammates, “I’m not taking a day off. It’s on me.”
Boone is now coming off the finest season he’s had at Ohio State. And he’s gearing up for another game in the national spotlight -- against LSU one week from today in the BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans.
“Whenever you get a chance to go and see if you can do better than you did the last time, yeah,” Head Coach Jim Tressel said. “Just like a long layoff, or staying out too late, or Alex Boone, I think people put a little too much onto what they want to point to.
“Alex doesn’t have to feel as if he needs to have any redemption. He just needs to get a chance to go out and see if he can play the best game he’s capable of playing.”
Boone has not talked with the media much this season. He wasn’t available during Ohio State’s bowl media day earlier this month. However, he is among the first offensive players who will be available after the team arrives in New Orleans on Wednesday.
What he has been known for, mostly, this season is touchdown celebrations. He engulfed receiver Brian Hartline after a touchdown. It was an impressive show of athleticism for a kid the size of a Chevy.
“Alex gets excited,” Tressel understated. “He loves football. He wants to get better and he wants to be as good as he can be. He hates to lose.”
But he has had to live with that Florida game for a full year. Ohio State’s offense struggled to move the football because Heisman Trophy quarterback Troy Smith didn’t have time to make a decision. What Boone has done this year is consistently grade out among OSU’s best offensive linemen each week. One of the reasons quarterback Todd Boeckman has been able to, for the most part, seamlessly take over is Boone’s back-side protection.
Part of Boone’s superb play can be traced back to atoning for Florida.
“I think he’d done it already this year, just in the season that we had,” said OSU center Jim Cordle. “Their D-ends are even better. ... Scouts that watched the (Florida) game, maybe they’ll see that he wasn’t just getting beat all of the time. It was calls we were making and stuff like that.”
Cordle is the third Buckeye offensive lineman who played against the Gators to confirm there were line call errors. Also, guard Steve Rehring reported back to Columbus last December, after Christmas break, out of shape.
Right tackle and co-captain Kirk Barton said none of that will be a problem this year. Much of last year’s national title disaster falls on the line, he agreed.
“It (losing to Florida) hurt everybody,” Barton said. “It wasn’t just Alex. Nobody played well. You can’t point to one guy and say if you had 22 of those guys you’d have won the game. Nobody really played well. It was a total team effort.
“That was the worst game I’ve been a part of and we took that personally. We worked hard to get back where we are.”
The Buckeyes are back on the national stage, with a chance to change what is said on the bus as it that leaves the Superdome.
Reach Repository sports writer Todd Porter at (330) 580-8340 or e-mail email@example.com
A tough assignment
Alex Boone had a tough assignment against Florida in last year’s title game. It gets even tougher this year against LSU.
Glenn Dorsey will line up opposite Boone some of the game. Dorsey, a two-time All-American defensive tackle, is big enough and fast enough to attack offenses from the outside as well. Even if Dorsey doesn’t line up near Boone, he has to be accounted for across the line.
Dorsey has more hardware than TrueValue. This month he earned the Lott Trophy, Nagurski Trophy, Outland Trophy, Lombardi Award, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and was a consensus All-American.
Despite playing most of the second half of the season with knee and back injuries, Dorsey had six sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss and 64 tackles.
And Boone thought Florida’s defensive line was good.
“They are the real deal,” Buckeye center Jim Cordle said. “Glenn Dorsey is an NFL defensive tackle. He is going to be the first pick in the draft. He’s got it all.”