Lying in the recovery room Sept. 18 after back surgery just two days prior, Buckeyes offensive line coach Greg Studrawa agonizingly watched as then-No. 9 Ohio State battled Tulsa.
Studrawa has roamed the sidelines at Ohio State since 2016, guiding the Buckeyes’ offensive line and making sure they carry out the game plan of protecting the quarterback and blocking up front.
Not coaching during a regular-season Ohio State contest was not part of Studrawa’s game plan in Week 3.
“You have no idea. I was bleeding out of my back, I’m throwing the phone, I was calling cell phones — I know they didn’t even have them,” Studrawa said. “I’m trying to get ahold of somebody on the sideline. I mean, it was torture.”
The sixth-year Buckeyes coach said he injured a disc in his back after getting hurt on the sidelines against Minnesota in Week 1. He said he flew home the next morning with a shooting pain down his left leg, but pushed through the discomfort for several days.
One week later, after taking medicine and undergoing treatment, Studrawa said the pain grew unbearable — he needed surgery.
“There was no choice,” Studrawa said. “It had to get done or I wouldn’t be able to walk.”
While he likely preferred carrying out his duty of acting as the offensive line coach and assisting head coach Ryan Day, Studrawa had others step up in his absence.
Graduate assistant Kennedy Cook took over a share of responsibilities and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson — who has nearly a decade as an offensive line coach himself — stepped in.
Junior offensive lineman Dawand Jones said he didn’t notice much of a difference during the game, saying he could hear Studrawa’s coaching voice in his head throughout all four quarters.
“I think it’s an important factor of our O-line,” Jones said. “I think it’s good for everybody just knowing that if one person goes down, the next person is up. The coaches, next coach up, just the same way.”
Graduate offensive lineman and captain Thayer Munford said he felt the need for the offensive line room to step up and hold firm in order to not let Studrawa down.
“Even though sometimes we’ll be like, ‘Ugh, we got coach Stud,’ at the same time, we know he’s like the heart and soul of this offensive line unit,” Munford said. “Without him, we couldn’t be like one strong unit.”
The Buckeyes ran all over the Golden Hurricane for 323 yards as freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson carried the load for 277 yards of his own, breaking former two-time Heisman winner Archie Griffin’s single-game freshman record that stood for 49 years.
Studrawa said Cook, Wilson and the Buckeyes’ offensive line “didn’t skip a beat” while he was gone for the game.
He’s since returned to his familiar post on the field. He said his back is slowly recovering, but Studrawa’s presence among the Buckeyes on the sideline is as normal as it ever was.
“Getting better. Not 100 percent yet. It’s a tough deal,” Studrawa said. “Don’t ever have it. Anybody that wants to have it, don’t ever do it, but it had to be done.”