Billy Price provided a vote of confidence Tuesday for his teammate on the Ohio State Buckeyes offensive line, sophomore Isaiah Prince, who has been one of the most criticized players on the team.
Price and Prince play next to each other on the line. Price starts at right guard. Prince starts at right tackle.
The Buckeyes started the same five offensive linemen in all 12 regular-season games. Pat Elflein started at center. Jamarco Jones started at left tackle. Michael Jordan started at left guard.
Prince struggled in the loss at Penn State, allowing 14 quarterback pressures. Prince improved as the season progressed, Price said, and even in the last month since the Michigan game.
The Buckeyes play the Clemson Tigers at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Fiesta Bowl.
“He’ll be ready, I can tell you that,” Price said in a press conference at the Camelback Inn. “He’s worked his butt off this bowl season. I know everybody wants to point a finger and say this guy is going to destroy you. He’s got those jitters right now. It’s exciting. This is a great opportunity for him. He’s a true sophomore. He’s a 20-year-old young man in the College Football Playoff. I was a 19-year-old kid doing the same thing in New Orleans two years ago. He’s going to be fine.”
The Buckeyes gave up eight sacks in their last game against Michigan. That wasn’t all on Prince.
“So he gives up a sack here and there; you can look at my sack numbers, they’re awful,” Price said. “You just have to get better every week and take the bumps in the road.”
Asked how much a player can improve between the end of the regular season and the bowl game, Price said, “I went from playing like dog dirt my freshman year to those last three games where (Ezekiel Elliott) ran for (696 yards). It’s a cumulative process. It’s about being more familiar and comfortable with what you’re doing. He’s got a little bit of swagger back.”