Kalis bears a resemblance to Stifler in that particular photo.
This Week's Obsession: O-Line Opinion
The mustaches need work / Fuller
Welcome back to the weekly feature in which people on the internet say things (every blog must have at least one). The lineup, and their credentials:
LT: Sr/9th Brian Cook. Not an NFL flight risk: Stayed in school for two degrees then started a blog rather than move on.
RT: Sr/5th Seth Fisher. Pre-Season Publications All-American, named to IPPY Watch List
RG: So/Jr Ace Anbender. JUBLO transfer.
C: So/So Heiko Yang. 1st Team All-Press Conference 2012
LG: Jr/Sr Mathlete. Led Big Ten in PANcakes. (ha!)
OL: Fr/Fr Blue in South Bend. Consensus 5-star to Moderator Sticky Page
And the question:
Time to make a prediction that will make you look stupid in a few weeks when we have practice reports: Your best guess for Michigan's O-line two-deep versus CMU, and the starting OL versus OSU, with reasoning.
Seth: So long as the gods have been properly tickled, the tackles are Lewan and Schofield with lots of obviously. Seniors, longtime starters, are hardly ever responsible for sacks, best OTs in the conference, despise donkeys, yada.
The interior is kind of a bitch to predict at this moment. Right guard seems to be Kalis's to lose. Regarding the momentary "omigod he's behind Burzynski" panic in early spring, my going theory is the coaches don't like giving away starting positions (Jim Bollman: take note), and Michigan's tiny walk-on erstwhile sixth lineman was instructed to give the five-star freshman a run for his money.
The other starting spots are going to the best two of Glasgow, Miller, and Braden, and at the conclusion of spring practice I felt that was the extremely tenuous order. Given their relative upsides and who did the recruitin' it's even money for Braden to emerge as a starter somewhere by season's end, even if he's not at the start. Gun to my head: the CMU starters are Glasgow-Miller-Kalis, with Braden the first guy in if any offensive lineman goes down (if it's Miller, Glasgow will slide over to center, and I already mentioned the tackles), and by OSU Braden is playing, if not for an injury than for Miller.
From there I think it's a pecking order more than a two-deep. If a tackle goes down, the surviving one is the left tackle and Ben Braden is the RT. The nominal two-deep guys will be Magnuson (tackle) and Burzynski (interior) early in the season, with Burzynski passed by Chris Bryant--I'm not and Blake Bars as the year progresses. Redshirt all the freshmen and sort 'em out next year.
Blue in South Bend: Now, I'm no expert, but I'd agree that three of the spots are locked down, with Lewan and Schofield at the tackles and Kalis at RG. I tend to think Miller is the heavy favorite at center as well; Burzynski is too short, Glasgow is too tall, and Miller has been the heir apparent for two full seasons. The real battle will be at LG, and I'll punt on that because I think the coaches will punt as well. No disrespect to the Chips, but it seems like the kind of game where Braden and Glasgow can both get plenty of run. Last year "OMG Mealer is gonna start at center" was a cataclysmic deal because Bama. This year, anything short of a true freshman starting will be met with a "huh, that's interesting." Braden and Glasgow will be listed as co-starters, so flip a coin and Ben Braden gets the first snap.
As far as a two-deep, pretty much what Seth said; Braden slides outside if a tackle goes down, followed by Magnuson. The Glasgow/Braden loser is the first in at guard, and Burzynski backs up center (where he got a lot of snaps during the spring game). The wild card is Chris Bryant. He had a pretty solid recruiting profile coming in, and insider reports indicate that he remains a large, large man. We outsiders literally know nothing about him at this point, though, so focus all your Ouija board questions on this man. The Meat God shall have to wait, as the freshmen redshirt.
Long-term, I think Braden wins the LG spot based mostly on upside, but that's just a guess. Two things to keep an eye on. The first is whether anyone shows an ability to pull. Kyle Kalis didn't look great in the spring game when asked to pull, so unless everything is going to be a zone blocking scheme (or a counter or wham concept or something to get the outside blockers moving), anyone who shows that particular club in his bag will have a big leg up. The second is whether anyone is particularly reliable in passing situations (a concern I had with Braden after the spring game). Protect the Devin, or sit thee on the pine forthwith.
LT: Lewan, Schofield, rapture
LG: Braden, Glasgow, Bryant, (Bosch)
C: Miller, Glasgow, Burzynski
RG: Kalis, Glasgow, Burzynski
RT: Schofield, Braden, Magnuson
Few things: As far as I know, Braden has locked down the LG spot for some time, so you can go ahead and use ink. I included Bosch in parentheses because he got a lot of good practice buzz. I hear he's developmentally ahead of Bars. Not that it means he'll play this season, but you can get excited for whenever the official "ass-kicking OL" era starts. Bryant [right: Fuller] is working his way back into playing shape after his leg injury. At the conclusion of spring he was a viable backup, which is a great sign considering he's still convalescent. He and Bosch and the other young bucks should will probably compete for guard opposite Kalis next year when Braden finds a home outside. And I agree with Seth: Kalis is probably going to be Michigan's RG a long, long time.
By the time OSU comes to town, unless there's an injury (please let there be no injuries) the starters should still be the same. Bryant may slip ahead of Glasgow for LG backup? Maybe?
I don't think this line is ready to clobber people between the tackles just yet. The appearance of running lanes will probably still be few and far between. Pass protection should be okay, though, and keeping Devin's jersey clean is really all we can ask for.
BiSB: I do worry that Rapture and DOOOOM are higher on the depth chart at tackle than anywhere besides QB and maybe safety. That said, there is at least a little bit of a buffer with Braden and Magnuson, though I think the latter could really use another year before entering the fray. If you compare the line depth with, say, Michigan State (or to Michigan in the alternate universe where Lewan declared for the draft), you have to feel a little better about life. State's O-line reminds me of pufferfish sashimi: if absolutely everything goes JUST RIGHT, then, hey, tasty fish. If even one thing goes wrong, though, neurotoxin and you're gonna have a bad time.
Heiko: We're not sitting here going into fall camp with 9 guys on scholarship like some people are.
Brian: Y'all need to file that guy from last week under "haterz" and moveon,org you guys. We'll have an official knighting ceremony after some beers and I'll change all your usernames to Sir Ace, Sir Seth, etc., thus communicating to haterz that you come anointed from on high.
Anyway: starting tackles are obvious. Kalis is obvious. I'm a little surprised that Braden has "locked down" a spot according to Heiko, but Heiko knows some things these days. I was just going on what Michigan did in the spring game, where Graham Glasgow started and played all three interior spots, getting more snaps than just about anyone that day. That signaled he was the leader at LG to me; if Heiko's information is accurate that signals that Glasgow is the #6 lineman, full stop. If a tackle goes out, Braden moves outside and Glasgow comes in. If anyone else goes out, Glasgow comes in.
Speaking of, depth charts like Heiko put out above are not quite right. Michigan is clearly in the group of teams that have a starting five and then want two or three linemen who back up everywhere in reserve. Assuming Miller holds on to the starting spot, a line from left to right of Lewan, Braden, Miller, Kalis and Schofield is backed up by Glasgow, Magnuson, and... uh... Bosch? Bryant? A true freshman not yet on campus?
I'm pretty confident that Glasgow will be a decent player if forced into the lineup, but once you get past him things get a little dodgy. While Michigan has options, I'd be a lot more confident if any of them other than Bryant were, like, upperclass-ish. Like the defense, it feels like Michigan needs one more year before the depth charts are overflowing with hype and experience.
I don't see any changes between CMU and OSU that aren't injury-forced unless Kugler arrives on a bolt of thunder, Rimington in hand already.
All, non-Brian: Sheath thy blade and spare thy tallow, your majesty; a simple raise shall suffice.
FWIW, we've had 3 straight data heavy posts before this with a total 34 comments, combined. The previous "This Week's Obsession" post before the "I hatez the dirty little Hobbitz" had 36 alone.
Something for everyone and all, but your readers like these.
The number of comments doesn't necessarily prove that the readers prefer the actual posts. It's just a lot harder to dispute piles of data without either generating your own piles of data or finding a flaw in the data analysis. But when it comes to opinion posts like these, it's pretty easy to post and alternatate prediction that's just as valid as anything in the post. Even if you don't have several years of blogging credentials to back you up (ducks)
Part of the point is to create discussion, and yes, page hits. If there's just data being presented that gets a front page click (and if not "continued") nothing more. Comments and discussion create returns to this site, and interest, and thus, revenue. Which then pays all these people in this roundtable. (Well, except BiSB).
So it's not a matter of having one over the other, but in creating content, the value of having one that was labeled as "unworthy."
Eh, we pretty much suck at everything having to do driving more traffic except producing content people want and more of it. Nobody in the history of mgoblog has written a front page post thinking "let's make this generate some discussion so we up the page counts". You could say our business model is to not use anything but content to drive business.
Actually the way I'm running ads these days, the first one you see on the front page is the most expensive, and the more often you're on the site the less value each pageview is (since our advertisers are trying to maximize eyeballs).
That's the only sustainable model for any blog - put up good content often.
If you're going to talk about me that much, I want a tag.
You'll have to share one with Kyle Kalis.
Strikes me as a pretty good deal.
May all newcomers REDSHIRT. We shall dominate in .........
Who is "Brian" to be knighting people? I mean, really, what makes him king shit of fuck mountain?
LT Lewan, Schofield, Magnuson
LG Braden or Bryant
C Miller, Glasgow
RG Kalis, Glasgow
RT Schofield, Braden, Magnuson
Sir Sean Connery finds none of this knighting business funny, and actually believes it gives less credibility. And frankly, I always agree with Sean Connery.
Personally, I think if that's not the lineup, we should be worried about the line. Honestly, as long as they're not as bad as last year's line, we'll have a very good season.
The idea that the line didn't play well last year is an ongoing myth. The team ran for 183 yards per game and 4.8 ypc. Our starting running back missed four games. In the last three, our QB (without the ability to physically throw a pass) basically acted as his replacement and averaged over 100 yards per game. Fitz was over 5 ypc against UMass, Minnesota, Northwestern, MSU, and at 4.5 against ND (with the latter two having stellar run defenses). The backs combined for over 200 yards against Illinois (with Rawls leading the way). A few teams (namely Air Force and Purdue) keyed extensively on Fitz and forced Denard to keep the ball on read plays. They held Fitz to about a yard per carry, but Denard put up 453 yards rushing in those two games.
Essentially, we couldn't run the ball against Bama (Who could?), the Russell Bellomy project was a bit of a disaster, and a few teams got burned picking the worst kind of poison.
Except that drops about 1 YPC without Denard:
|Returning in 2013||266||1027||3.86||17|
It is abundantly clear that the only person that could consistently run last year was Denard. And his ability to maintain his YPC while everyone else's plummeted was actually pretty difficult to comprehend since defenses must have increasingly focused on stopping him.
The only conclusion that makes any sense is that the run blocking was tragically bad and Denard's ability to gain yards on the ground despite the bad blocking is a testament to his immense talent.
One of the great steps forward in 2011 was the successful involvement of the RB in the running game--something RichRod had never done consistently (and then proceeded to do in spades in his first year in AZ--go figure.) The backslide in 2012 is troubling but the future is bright. Hopefully.
First off, Denard did not maintain his ypc, they went up dramatically from his already stellar numbers earlier in his career. Also, as I pointed out, a few teams wanted Denard to keep the ball (presumably to get more hits on him or thinking that our staff would be reluctant to keep feeding him even if there was space for him to run). If one guy is getting 1 ypc and another is getting 10+ out of the exact same play (as was the case against Purdue and Air Force), that isn't a failure of the offense but rather an indication of what the other team is defending.
If the RB struggled last year, it was because Fitz was out of the game, Denard was going bananas as teams overdefended him, or our offense was completely in the tank when Bellomy replaced Denard.
Is that when running more traditional stuff, the numbers weren't very good, and a lot of that traces back to interior line play.
Fitz had good numbers in most of the games he actually played in. When he was out and Denard played RB he was still productive. Other guys had big days against Illinois. The teams that really shut down Fitz basically allowed Denard to stroll into their secondary at will by doing so. If you can point to a game where we struggled to run the ball (save Bama and 2nd half Nebraska) I'm all ears, but it didn't really happen.
If running Vincent Smith up the middle in short yardage doesn't yield positive results, at this point blaming the execution rather than the plan seems silly. Throw in the hodgepodge nature of the offense (we did so many things from a formation/style perspective that within each formation/style we didn't have much variety) and the predictability that produced and being "just okay" (in the part of the running game where a guy isn't putting up 1,200 yards despite missing loads of action) isn't much of a criticism.
We've tackled the running game last year pretty extensively. Part of the discrepency in Denard versus not-Denard was because Denard really did create a lot of his own yards by slipping through holes. But that's not the whole storey: It was a combination of things that included a lot of just plain bad luck on the blocking when Toussaint had the ball. There was a series (I'm doing this from memory in the midst of a rainstorm) when Toussaint had a perfect route to the end zone with a lead blocker, but then that blocker, Omameh, suddenly turned back because he wasn't trusting his fellow OL to have their guys. Toussaint bumped into Omameh, the pursuit caught up to the play, and it stopped as a 5-yard gain. The next play Denard ran it in after Borges dialed up something that exploited Illinois overreacting to the previous play. On the stat sheet Denard got 25 yards and a TD and Toussaint got 5 yards but that doesn't tell the story.
The other reason Denard's YPC are so high is when he broke one he was gone. There were two toward the end of the season after he wasn't a passer anymore that stick out: when he decleated Iowa's safety and then ran out of bounds 40 yards downfield because it just wasn't fair at that point, and the big run against OSU when two of their derpity doo defenders derped a tackle that would have kept it to just a good gain.
I'll give you two and a partial 3rd.
Against Air Force Ftiz was 7/9. Then 2 weeks later against Purdue he was 17/19. How awful is that? Sandwiched in between, he had one good run against ND (31 yards) but was 12/27 otherwise.Then in week 6, he was 18/62 against Illinois.
He didn't play against Alabama and was good against UMass.
I'll grant you he looked like he had turned it around as he was pretty good after that until he got hurt. But in the first 6 weeks, he had one good game (UMass), 2 terrible, really terrible games (AF and Purdue), one good run agaisnt ND and was otherwise not good, and then a pretty bad game against Illinois.
With the exception of UMass and Illinois, no one got anything much on the ground but Denard in the beginning of the season. And then after Fitz got hurt, the running game returned to being all Denard.
2004: 3.8 ypc
2005: 3.9 ypc
2006: 4.3 ypc
2007: 4.0 ypc
If you take out the leading rusher's numbers, they look a lot worse too. When the starting running back missed games in those years, the backups weren't as good.
Schedule, injuries, and turnovers (against ND) were the problems with last year's team, not the offensive line. Obviously replacing Denard's unique skillset will be impossible and there are question marks with the new guys on the interior line, but the conventional wisdom that last year's team featured a bunch of matadors up front simply doesn't jive with what transpired on the field over the course of the season.
include sack yardage. Actual rushing yardages for those years are as follows:
2004: 4.9 YPC
2005: 3.9 YPC (The Year of Infinite Pain)
2006: 4.9 YPC
2007: 5.0 YPC
BiSB, you can't play the stats game. The stats game is just numbers, and, just like in politics, the numbers often DO lie.
For example, the running game averaged 5.09 yds/carry against MSU. Was that a good rushing performance?
What matters is effectiveness, not stats. Our ground game was ineffective without Denard, and anyone with eyes could see that was due to poor blocking.
This is one of those simple eyeball tests: we could NOT run the ball against any decent defense last year, even with Denard. We could NOT run the ball out of the pro form even when Denard was in. And most importantly, we lost four games with one of the best runners in the history of the sport in our backfield (I'm not counting Nebraska, which was another disaster).
The run blocking was not good.
No, you used stats, not facts. They are different. The stats say we could run the ball to some degree, the eyeballs can tell anyone with a modicum of football experience that our O-Line did not do a good job run-blocking last year.
But don't take my word for it, go back and look at the what the O-line said about itself: they knew they weren't getting it done.
Your stats are much like looking at Barry Sanders' seasons in Detroit and proudly proclaiming, "We had the best O-line in pro football!" All you had to do was watch a game to realize that Barry's talent was much more responsible for most of his yards than any help he got from the O-line.
Furthermore, if you look at the plays where we gained significant yardage, they were mostly option plays where Denard was a whisker away from being tackled. Those whiskers went away when he was out of the game and so did our rushing yards (except against trash competition).
But yeah, the O-Line did pretty well against Illinois...
comments like this do not make sense to me. is this comment based on your perception of a recruit's "star" ranking? who's to say that it is not a good thing if one of the less-heralded guys improved/improves a ton and becomes the starter?
Seth didn't include the aside between Heiko and myself in which I compared MSU's line to fugu.
You see that, Heiko? SETH HATES ASIAN STUFF.
He's married to a Sparty AND he's racist???
I didn't realize two of us were married to Sparties. This is troubling.
NSA!!! SPIES, THEY'RE SPIES I TELL YOU!!!
Which is worse?
Oops. I'll add that.
Also my Spartina and I have Mene Sushi every friday night I'll have you know.
Heiko: "I don't think this line is ready to clobber people between the tackles just yet. The appearance of running lanes will probably still be few and far between."
Because of talent, inexperience, or both?
Inexperience contributes more than lack of talent. The inability of tailbacks to create their own opportunities is probably a factor, too, albeit indepedent of line play.
When Borges came to Auburn and had an already established, strong O-line, he put together two of the best offensive performances of his career ('04 and '05). In 2007, with an experienced QB, very good RBs, and solid receivers, Borges' offense tanked. There is no doubt in my mind that a big reason for that was that three true freshmen started games and played significant minutes for Auburn that year. They were all four-star recruits, but it's tough for any 18-year-old to be effective on the O-Line of a top-level college program.
He wasn't highly recruited because he played basketball until his junior year or something like that. He was pretty raw, because he picked up football late. However, he was coached by Kurt Becker who played for Bo and for Ditka and knows a bit about being an OL. Becker was high on him. You'd think a kid who played basketball has the foot speed to get out there and pull. He might "pull" a big surprise. Otherwise, he certainly should be an adequate 6th lineman and a better choice for that spot than we've had the past 2 seasons with the complete lack of OL depth.
but i think that if Chris Bryant wants to see some playing time, he should consider switching to the DL. not only does the coaching staff have some experience with this move with QWash being a starter, but there is a much more frequent rotation to keep guys fresh and there is actually some need for his brawn with guys like Black playing DT.
just food for thought
I don't think Bryant on the DL would have any affect on Black since I doubt he'd have the athleticism to play any spot beside nose (where he'd have to battle both Q and Pipkins for PT).
That said, it's not a bad idea if it looks like he's not getting any OL PT unless everyone gets injured. If he's the third string NT, he probably sees the field more than the third string RG.
Haha, best "Linup" yet - I love it!
Borges will run power if lineman can pull or not, which means I'm a bit concerned given his tendency to run into the weakest part of his offense....
So basically I'm praying that Kalis can pull and the LG is solid? I can deal with that.
Taylor Lewan. He is a large fellow with long arms and a strong base. I expect to see many a running back in his tow.
Large lineman make me happy.
Warriors in every sense of the word. Nobody could have asked them for more. The problem was that against good defenses they were unable to open holes for anyone other than Denard. Yeah I get that when Denard ran the ball there was another blocker. Simply put Denard needed a much smaller hole, or seam, or gap, to slip through.
I know far less about offensive line play than many people here, but I have learned that the key to the offensive line is playing as a unit. Talent is great, but if those five guys don't play as one, talent won't be enough.
I hope that this line can gel early. I pray that they gel before the end of the season. I'm okay if that doesn't happen, because they will gel by next year.
We Michigan fans are an odd bunch. We fail to understand how a championship team is built. Sure teams get lucky and/or play beyond themselves but to restore a program requires between 3 & 6 years.
I have no doubt the defense will be fierce and will keep the team in every game all season. As far as the offense goes, 2013 will be another season of luck. If the O line gels early and injuries are light we're looking at 10-12 regular season wins beating Ohio twice in one year and playing in a bowl. If the line takes time to gel or we get injured at critical position we are looking at 8-10 wins and a lesser bowl.
If we are lucky 2013 could be Michigan's break out year. If not it could be 2014 or 2015 before things come together. My point is that Hoke is building a dynasty. He wants to win every game and plays and coaches to achieve that end, but he also understands how to build a foundation for a top five team.
2013 will be an exciting year for Michigan football. Anything can happen.
I"m with Heiko on the OL of Lewan-Braden-Miller-Kalis-Schofield as a given for the starting O-line. Watching the spring game, I though Braden was the 3rd best OL with his size and athleticism, and I liked that when Miller's job was to get out and block a LB he made sure to do it. They all need more experience playing together, especially against stunts.
I think Glasgow will be ok as the next man in, but I'm guessing that Bryant will push him by the end of the year. Bryant played with the 3rd string OL in the spring game, but he looked really good even when going against the 2nd string DL. He's big and strong, but I doubt he pulIs very well. I think he was 3rd string because he's working his way back from injury and that he'll move up in the fall. I also think Burzynski showed last year that he could play in a pinch and be ok, and he pulls well. I thought Magnuson was not too bad in the spring game but needs to get stronger. I think he would be ok to sub in for a few plays if one of the tackles has to sit out a couple plays, but I wouldn't want to see him play a whole game. I'm hopeful he'll be ready to play next year.
The OL will not dominate, especially early, but they'll be ok and get better as the year goes on. I'm just hoping they're looking pretty good for the tough games at the end of the year.