Hey guys, I appreciate the feedback on my diary entry. First, I want to re-iterated that I didn't say we are a lock to roll through teams like the Texas 06 team or the Oklahoma 07 team. I just wanted to provide an optimistic outlook because I have not seen one yet. I feel that the comparisons are very similar. I knew there would be questions regarding the offensive line. I didn't forget to account for them, I was actually just late for a work out and didn't have time to finish. Every time I'm late for a workout I get yelled at by the imaginary Mike Barwis in my head that I use to motivate myself. It's always something along the lines of...
Imaginary Mike Barwis: "Hey thanks for finally bringing your little baby nuts to the work out. I'm sure you have a lot of important things to do in your free time, all I do is breed wild wolves in my free time. No big Fucking deal or anything."
In terms of the differentiation between offensive lines, Texas' 06 team did return 3 starters, one of whom was an all-big 12 selection (Justin Blaylock). Meanwhile Oklahoma's team also returned 3 starters, one being all-worldy guard Duke Robinson. This is a huge discrepancy between the talent of our offensive line and theirs. I agree 100%, but I will explain to you why it is still a valid comparison in my mind.
Given our personnel, I believe when people talk about how bad and inexperienced our offensive line is, they are expecting a Notre Dame-esque collapse. No doubt, an offensive line performance similar to theirs would be disastrous. The Notre Dame offensive line frequently allowed opposing defenders to throw parties at Jimmy Clausen's house. Clausen even managed to become the first quarterback in the history of football to get sacked while attempting to take a knee (Just kidding... but seriously). Let me explain why this will not happen. First, I truly in my heart believe Mike Barwis would never allow his players to be pushed around and physically abused like the ND offensive line. Yes this line is inexperienced and yes this line has played very poorly when given the opportunity, but wouldn't you be slacking if you were a sophomore linemen playing behind Jake Long? I understand that Justin Boren and Stephen Schilling were able to leap frog this class of linemen, but it wasn't seniors getting beaten out by freshmen, it was a red-shirt freshmen and a true sophomore beating out red-shirt sophomores. And Boren (as much as I hate his guts) was a freak of athletic nature who was already the strongest person on the team, meanwhile Schilling was a 5 star recruit believed to have the best footwork of any linemen in the 06 class. Now that these linemen have the motivation (or had the motivation beaten into them), I believe you will see them perform at a much higher level than before.
So what if this new level still isn't that good? Well, fortunately that can also be accounted for. The spread offense preaches.... spreading. Before you stop reading, here me out. Although this offensive line is not as good as the last years, the funny thing is, they really don't have to be. Notre Dame's offensive line was ill- equipped to protect Clausen in pro-style sets with 5-7 step drops. Michigan's current offensive line is also ill-equipped to protect Threet in pro-style sets as well. However, Threet will be working out of the shotgun spread where the ball is delivered much quicker and where defenders will have to travel a farther distance to get to the quarterback. The emphasis on bubble and flanker screens will keep blitzers and defensive linemen honest (so would the zone read, to an extent, but I'm hoping you don't see Threet running that very often). Also, blitzers are easier to account for in the spread, as corners often have to start their blitz before the snap of the ball. Also, although the talent of Michigan's current offensive line is much weaker than previous years, the athleticism is not. Therefore, they will also be more capable of protecting Threet when defenders get tired from the no huddle hurry-up offense. Case in point, this past West Virginia team had only one linemen who was a first team all-big east selection (remember we're talking about the big-east) and yet they were still able to put up 48 points on Oklahoma, who many believed to be a top 5 defense. Obviously, Pat White/Steve Slaton/Noel Devine had a lot to do with that, but come on, I'm just saying. A dominant offensive line is not a pre-requisite for a successful spread offense. Do you want another example, how bout Florida, who's offensive line featured two true freshmen and a converted defensive linemen at the end of the year. They still managed to score a lot of points against very good defenses.
I understand that the discrepancy in offensive lines may seem to crack my comparison between Texas 06 and Oklahoma 07, but I just want to state that I believe the spread offense lightens the necessity for an absolutely dominant offensive line. I think people will be surprised at how good this team performs. I'm not saying 10 wins, but I'm sure we will get to a bowl. It seems silly, but a lot of people seem worried about our consecutive bowl streak.
Addressing other comments that I thought were interesting:
How will the line cope with the blitzing of Tenuta?
The answer is not very well. But what teams do handle the blitzes of Tenuta? No matter who they play, Tenuta will game plan a way to get to the quarterback.
The coaching change is also a big differentiation between Michigan and Texas 06 and Oklahoma 07:
This is also very true, but I just want to re-state that the Capital One Bowl proved we can run a spread. Yes, it is a new scheme, but so was the one we used in the Capital One Bowl. If you tell me that that is the offense we had all year, then you're wrong. They put together an offensive game plan in one month and could have used it the rest of the year if we would have played more games. There will be struggles adapting, but we're not going from a veer offense to a throwing spread. I don't remember anyone looking loss or confused during the bowl game. Even Carson Butler knew what he was doing, and we're talking about Carson Butler (Don't get it twisted though, I actually love Carson Butler, he's my wolverine and my tiger). Someone pointed out the even more drastic change in offensive schemes implemented at Cincinnati and the success that they had. In terms of personnel, we do recruit talent that can play in a spread. Tony Clemons, Daryl Stonum, and Junior Hemmingway have the speed to play in the slot. They may not have the wiggle to shake their way to 50 yard touchdowns off bubble screens, but they can get 10-15 yards. Also, a majority of high school players that we recruited come from offenses where they line up all over the field. Some play quarterback, running back, slot, flanker, and corner, so the adjustment from a 3 receiver set to a 3 receiver shotgun spread isn't too overwhelming for them. In fact, for players like Carlos Brown, it's all too familiar. There will be mistakes as the Michigan players learn the new scheme but the beauty is, opposing defenders have to learn our new scheme too.