There has been considerable worry voiced here about our inexperienced offensive line, and that is perfectly understandable. However, I would like all to remember the 1997 team and who was on the left side of that line and the experience they brought with them. Two fellows by the name of Backus and Hutchinson(to become 2 time AA) protected Griese's blind side that year. Both were RS freshmen. And we are all aware that team ended up doing fairly well, with less than a mobile qb and outstanding RBs, although Howard and Floyd ran extremely hard. It was also AT's coming out party and it appears he enjoyed it being named Conference Freshman of the year. Have no idea if this team can duplicate that type of performance, but we do know the LT spot is taken care of and the new additions will be the same type of linemen that were recruited during that period of Michigan football. Just saying OL play is not on my list of major worries this season. I think by midseason they should be pushing the ball in the manner that could well remind us of those times.
For those worried about RS Freshman OL
as long as all of the RS Freshmen OL are all future All-Pro NFL players. I'd like to direct you to the other 99 times out of 100 where those RS Freshmen OL are just dudes and it doesn't go as well
...I just want everything to go back to the way it was...
Exactly. "Don't be worried about RS frosh on the OL because two of the best Michigan OL ever were able to do it."
Gosh, that totally eases every concern.
Not to pick on you too much, OP, but your post is a classic example of picking out an outlier to make an untrue assertion. Sure, it worked for Michigan THAT YEAR, but that doesn't mean that you can use 1997 as a predictor for 2013 or any other year since of course the actual trend is for teams which are younger overall not to do as well.
pair of D Linemen to move to offense. That is what really explains Hutchinson's success at Michigan and in the NFL.
Does that mean BWC is going to be an all-pro guard in the NFL?
It's called causation versus correlation. Very typical in stock market to find that "due to X, Y happened" when in reality they had not much at all to do together. i.e. Bill Clinton was just elected to his 2nd term in 1997, so a Democrat was in his 2nd term. Therefore when a Democrat begins his 2nd term and Michigan starts very young lineman, things tend to work out. Just look at 1997 for an example.
Now it is very likely Kalis is going to project to a high draft pick based on all the incoming hype. But who knows. But I dont see 31 NFL draft picks on the current roster as the 97 team had.
Further, should we go tell every team starting 3 inexperienced interior lineman to expect a national championship since well... it happened once. It would appear impossible for every team doing that to win in the same year...
Yaaaaaaaay ancedotal evidence
The evidence you gave seems absolutely incontrovertible. Top drawer, my good man. A+ work.
with any junior corner this year we should see Charles Woodson level performance, good to know
I am just not worried because one of them is Kyle Kalis.
Seems to be an absolute monster as well as Ben Braden.
Any High Schooler that actually looks like a Green Bay Packer is OK in my book.
Correction: Looks like a Green Bay Packer, but bigger and meaner.
Hi guys. I also agree with the op about the Oline situation but I'm a glass half full type of guy by nature.
Kalis is probably the best guard prospect at Michigan such Hutchinson. From most reports, Braden appears to have a ton of upside. It's not ideal to have too much youth on the O-Line but remember that Justin Boren was 2nd team all B1G as a sophomore (same age as these guys). The OP was just trying the shine a little optimism.
Hutchinson was moved from the D Line due to the attrition on the O Line. He didn't arrive as a guard prospect of any flavor.
I do hope that Kalis performs well enough that the comparisons continue though!
Hutchinson was named to the Top 33 Players in the first 100 years of Florida High School football as an offensive lineman. He was also listed as a Top 3 HS offensive lineman nationally by SuperPrep for his senior year.
I would think that makes him an OL prospect.
Saying he didn't arrive at a guard prospect is misleading. It's not like he didn't play OL in high school or that he wasn't highly rated, as others have pointed out. It just means Michigan had (perhaps mistakenly*) slotted him on the DL.
*Or maybe it wasn't a mistake -- maybe he would have been the best DL ever. We'll never know...
I think what the OP is saying is that Backus and Hutchinson are both returning to Michigan this fall.
I'm willing to bet that you can find a trio of 5th year seniors who formed a dominating interior line, too.
Although in college football, it's not unique to have talent trump experience.
Sure, I'm just pointing out the fallacy of selectively picking evidence that next year's line will be fine. I can selectively pick out evidence that it won't be just as easily.
All these complaints about the post and nobody mentioned the big one - Griese was a mobile quarterback for the 90s. Sure - he wasn't Frasier and Nebraska - but we ran plenty of bootlegs and rollouts. Part of that may have been the youthful line. Part of that may have been Griese's ability to throw accurately on the move. I think with a young line and Devin we'll see some similar stuff ... 2nd and 7, Gardner fakes to Fitz, rolls the pocket right, and fire over the head of the OLB to Funchess.
I am sorry, but Griese was not a mobile QB. He was the guy about whom Keith Jackson said, after a scramble, "the last time Brian Griese ran that far, his daddy was chasing him with a stick."
I miss Keith Jackson.
Yes RS frosh will be fine because all time Michigan greats were fine when they were RS frosh. Thanks for letting me know
Also all two stars will pan out well because MSU's defense
What really worries me is less their age and more the fact that nobody seemed to push the guys on our crappy interior OL last year.
From the perspective that Hoke didn't recruit a vast majority of the oline. He now has his guys with an extra year of cultivation and training. I believe with a terrific QB who can throw, the threat of a vertical passing game along with Fitz and Green on the ground, it can only get better. The oline has the right mix of talent and veteran leadership(Lewan and Schofield).
Gardner, Fitz, and Green's collective abilities are not going to matter much if the interior line can't pass block or create running lanes. Yes Hoke has had some time to work with them but one year usually isn't enough to get lineman where they need to be. Yes there are exceptions but the general rule is that RS Freshman are usually still too young.
We're going to have to hope that we have not one but two exceptions to the general rule, which is not the best situation to be in
If they were going to redshirt all the OL unless an emergency arose, there's no way Braden or Kalis COULD "push" the guys in front of them. It wasn't like they got some snaps but Barnum/Mealer/Omameh held them off.
only we had a big physical incoming freshman RB who can win B1G freshman of the year though. There goes your thesis OP.
I had English 101 with Thomas that year. Always laughed when he would wax philosophical with two gold front teeth.
Philosophy is talk on a cereal box. Religion is a smile on a Big Ten running back with gold front teeth.
I'll also bet all three members of that trio were much better when they were redshirt juniors. Also OP, I think you misunderstand some of the concern. I agree it is completely possible to have extremely capable RS or true freshman lineman (Lewan as an example of the latter). However no one is doubting that a couple of our RS lineman (namely Kalis) can overachieve and be dominate forces. The skepticism is centered around a belief that all of them can, as Seth showed in a Hokepoints, it takes until the third year for 80% of your offensive line class to be ready to go. So if Kalis and Braden are starting, and one of them has an injury or has to miss a series, we're skeptical that a replacement of equal quality can be obtained from the remaining pool of linemen.
Lewan redshirted. And if I remember his RS freshman season correctly, he flashed future talent but tended to get way too many penalties.
Whoops, I need my damn caffiene, former rather than latter, derp.
Yeah, Lewan graded out as servicable in my mind after his freshman year. I'm actually kind of excepting Kalis to be the second coming of Lewan, with the personal fouls that kill drives here or there. Physical specimen that doesn't quite know where to dial the aggression in.
wasn't nearly as ready as Kalis was going into their true freshman seasons. If Kalis makes a similar jump that Lewan did from his true freshman year to his redshirt freshman year, we've got a freshman all american at guard.
Servicable seems totally accurate to my memory. He could stand up to the competition, but man those drive killing penalties...ugh.
He turned it around fast, though. From what I remember, he pretty much curbed the penalties by the next season. If Kalis's career arc is anything like Lewan's, I think we'd all be pretty ecstatic.
so I'm not totally over concerned about his points. He can make his, and I can make mine. I don't post for agreement, just the possibilities. And to the poster that said, Griese was not a mobile qb, I think that was what my original post contained. I may be wrong and miswrote it, and if so than I am in total agreement with you.
I can't remember the Hokepoints referenced here, but those are nearly always some type of statistical analysis. Maybe knowing the game would help with making up grades (if he had too, like I said I don't recall) but using some type of outside metric like years as a starter, all-conference, all-America would negate that as well. I could see your point if you had posted some type of scouting report on the RS Freshman OL and explained why you thought each was ready to play, but that's not what the OP or Hokepoints does.
None of this is to say that Seth or you know more, just questioning why it matters for these purposes.
The exceptions are what we remember, but there is a reason that upperclassmen are usually starters. It takes skill and physical maturation, and usually it takes time for both to be realized.
only on this blog do I enjoy reading the commentary on how the OP fucked up
...but nobody has negged him yet. Weird.
I think we could probably find many examples of when RS freshman OL started and we didn't win the National Championship. "Just saying OL play is not on my list of major worries this season." What is on your list of major worries?
However it plays out it will play out. Borges scares me somewhat w/extremely questionable play calling in a couple of our losses. Other than that, even with inexperience at receiver we could easily play Gallon in the slot, Funchess would be a nightmare on the outside and we've got good, albeit inexperienced TEs. Defensive backfield would probably be my major concern.
I seriously doubt they put Funchess on the outside. And Gallon's the closest thing to a proven downfield threat, he's not moving in to the slot.
But I do think the receiving corps is an interesting position group. Gallon, Funchess, and Dileo plus a group of intriguing but unproven young players in Darboh, Chesson, and Butt should be fun to watch develop.
Those are valid concerns. I personally wouldn't rank the defensive backfield or OC as a bigger concern, but I can see the rationale. I think Borges will have a good year and people will start to see the offense progress. The WR depth is about on par with the OL. They are both pretty big concerns but I would say the OL is of more importance. Michigan really needs to improve the run blocking between the tackles. I think the defensive backfield will be improved from a year ago regardless of Countess's condition. I think the defensive will be fun to watch this year. Is it football season yet?
I'm tempering my expectations for the RS Freshmen who will either be starting or getting playing time on the line this year, including Miller. Not having any in-game experience and minimal time to learn the playbook (relatively speaking) is never ideal. Especially when that is on your entire interior line. Really, thank God Lewan came back to mentor these guys and anchor the line, otherwise we would have been in serious trouble.
I don't want to give the impression that I don't believe in Kalis, Braden, Magnuson, etc. I think they can be great, but there's a reason that O-Lineman starters are usually upperclassmen. They've had enough time to physically mature, and become technically and fundamentally sound.
Luckily, they've got plenty of time to gel before the meat of the schedule hits, and Notre Dame's D-Line will be a real trial by fire for them.
They'll get to face Louis Nix & Stephon Tuitt in week 2...
a couple of rrod recruited juniors or a couple of Hokes redshirted freshmen. I'm not knocking RRods guys that came, some were here to play for Michigan not rrod but I would take a Hoke coached redshirt freshmen over a rrod recruited and coached o linemen any day. Lewan excluded lol.
Schofield's job away from him?
Don't make this about coaches - respect the players. I rather suspect that all of them came to play for Michigan. If I put lol at the end does it change my message?
I love anyone who comes in but if RRod was throw his redshirt freshmen on the field compared to Hokes I would be worried. I trust hole has coached the freshmen up to be ready compared to rrod doing it.
are we going to be having this same discussion next year when we have 2 new tackles and 3 fresh and untested faces starting on the OL?
I wouldn't think so. There should only be two new guys on the OL next year. Lewan and Schofield should be the only guys who are gone, barring injury.
at least 2 new guys (maybe kugler pushes for center position, so potentially 3), and talk of Braden moving to the outside, which would be a new position for him. so, seems like next year there will be as much if not more uncertainty
It takes time to build depth, especially at a position like OL, which tends to utilize older players. So, yeah, offensive line concerns will linger for another couple of seasons, probably.
Yes that's the beauty of college football. But if Braden develops it will be likely he is moved from guard to tackle so it will be (a) can he handle the switch rather than (b) damn we are putting in two rookies at the tackles.
All that said, next year should be the last year of real worries if these stars mean anything. The OL of 2015 should be stacked with experience, relative youth, and meanness. Magnuson/Braden (Fox backup - LTT a mystery) tackles - Bosch, Kalis (Dawson backup) at guards, Kugler/Miller at center? Yes please.
People forget how that team won games. It had a stellar defense.
Look back at the 1997 stats.
Michigan had the #1 scoring defense, and #1 total defense.
It had the #44 scoring offense and #44 total offense. To put that in perspective the OSU and PSUs of the world were in the 20s on offense.
It was a low turnover, conservative, offense that was fine, but helped by a once in a generation (or two) dominating defense. And yes as others had said we had two 1st round NFL draft picks as those young guns on the left side, so if we have 2-3 1st round NFL draft picks on our interior and the #1 ranked defense next year led by Heisman candidate Blake Countess, no problemo.
Yes, but obviously having RS freshmen on the OL improves your defensive capabilities, so there's nothing to worry about.
OP sounds good and I'm thinking a more mobile QB would only help the issue.