Future Blue Originals: Zach Carpenter Comment Count

Adam Schnepp September 19th, 2018 at 10:00 AM

[Nasternak]

David made the long trek to the suburbs of Cincinnati to scout Archbishop Moeller, a football powerhouse that has helped fill out the rosters of both of Michigan’s primary rivals over the past decade or so. A new offshoot of the pipeline extends to Ann Arbor thanks to 2019 OL Zach Carpenter, who let the world know he would be attending Michigan in supremely understated fashion in May with a picture of Michigan Stadium attached to a one-word tweet: “Committed.”

Thankfully for Michigan, he is much larger than his character usage, checking in at 6’4” and around 300 pounds. Carpenter is a no-doubt interior offensive lineman in every way, from the shape of his body to the shape of his game. That was on full display in the contest David chose to scout, which featured Carpenter frequently lined up across from Trinity weakside defensive end Stephen Herron Jr., who flipped his commitment from Michigan to Stanford this summer. The matchup proved as interesting as expected through three quarters, at which time the game was delayed and eventually cancelled due to lightning and the universe’s general cruel and unfeeling nature. But hey, we got some good film!

[After THE JUMP: the good film, plus scouting]

Zach Carpenter Every-Snap Film

[#75, typically lined up at LT]

Scouting

Carpenter is Moeller’s left tackle, but everything from his physical appearance to the nuances of his game scream interior offensive lineman. A glance at the film indicates a frame that might need a bit of reshaping (though I wouldn’t say any more than the average lineman entering the program), but with the requisite size, strength, nastiness, and length to play on the interior.

At 00:08 Carpenter wins a rep in pass protection even though he eschews conventional footwork techniques by stepping into Herron and mauling him long enough to remove Herron from the play. It’s been established that Ed Warinner wants his linemen first and foremost to be physical, and this game showed why Michigan made such a push to get Carpenter’s commitment. At 1:37 Carpenter turns Herron’s poor dang backup and flings him down the line. Then there were the pancakes and other painful outcomes: 00:22 sees Carpenter brush off a shove from Herron on his way to a second-level mauling; 2:25, in which a linebacker is caved; 2:42, which wasn’t a pancake but was effectively as dominant and was against Herron; and 4:08, where he picks up an edge rusher, moves him three yards backward, then casually lays 300 pounds over him.

In other words, he uses his size effectively. We see it again at 1:26, in which Carpenter wins a pass-pro rep by getting his hands into Herron and getting his arms extended. At 1:55, Carpenter is trying to get down the line when Herron gets a hand on him, at which point Carpenter gets an arm into Herron, moving him back a yard and continuing down the line almost as if he doesn’t have a defensive end on the hook.

Carpenter’s game is more than just brute strength, though. He shows short-area quickness and an ability to get to the second level as quickly as smaller guys, like the play at 2:17 where he gets to the linebackers at the same time as his center, who is listed as 50 pounds lighter. Carpenter displays nice footwork at 4:00, taking short, powerful steps to square to the linebacker before setting and establishing a wider base that allows him to pivot and seal the linebacker inside. He also showed a combination of mental and physical dexterity as at 00:45, where he initially steps inside to block a defensive tackle before switching to Herron once he sees that the guard has the DT handled. He shows similar wait-not-here-over-here on-the-fly adaptation at 3:12, where the line slides right and Herron ends up unblocked, which causes Carpenter to spin back to his left and shove Herron in a last-ditch effort to disrupt him from pursuing the QB unabated.

The play at 2:52 is a glimpse of Carpenter’s potential and has everything you could ask for in a run blocker: great technique, great length, physicality, quickness off the ball, rapidly firing upward into the defender, and feet and hands that operate in sync.

Of course, not everything is perfect. Carpenter’s pass protection was a journey, and the reps he won were because he’s strong, not because his footwork was doing him any favors; he allows an ole at 00:53 when he gets his feet stuck in line with each other. It also appears some conditioning work is in the cards. This was evident on many of the long runs on the film; David also pointed out that Carpenter came out of the game for a bit for a breather.

Summary

Carpenter looks, moves, and hits like a future guard. He does a nice job timing his punches and steps for maximum impact and consistently uses his hands to good effect. He shows advanced run-blocking technique. Carpenter’s strength seems close to college-ready, as he had no problem controlling the line of scrimmage against a four-star defensive end prospect. Said defensive end prospect's speed put Carpenter’s footwork to the test, and it appears he is an above average run blocker and in need of time on task and additional coaching as a pass blocker, though no more than other high-level prospects I have scouted. Carpenter is already around 300 pounds but moves like someone 50 pounds lighter near the line of scrimmage and even into the second level. There’s a need for extra conditioning to increase his stamina and get him to a place where he can stay on the field every snap.

Even so, Carpenter has the physical makeup and on-field awareness to eventually be a productive piece of Michigan’s offensive line. I wouldn’t be at all concerned if camp reports indicate Carpenter making a strong push for playing time his redshirt freshman season; as an across-the-board three-star, Carpenter is underrated.

Comments

Shop Smart Sho…

September 19th, 2018 at 10:19 AM ^

"moves like someone 50 pounds lighter near the line of scrimmage and even into the second level."

Were we watching the same film? He looks more heavy-footed and slower than Onwenu. He's absolutely powerful in a small area, but I would imagine they're going to have to take a bunch of bad weight off of him and then rebuild him. It looks like way too much mass is in his gut and not his legs.

Adam Schnepp

September 19th, 2018 at 11:22 AM ^

I imagine they will take weight off and partially rebuild but I thought he got off the ball and did fine the couple times he went to the second level for his size. Not fleet of foot, but I thought he would be slower than he is given the listed weight.

EDIT: I've been thinking about it and I do think 50 pounds is overstating it. I got that from comparing him to other linemen on his line, and while they may be that much lighter, it's not a strict apples-to-apples comparison since they're not all projected to play at the same level in the future. 

Shop Smart Sho…

September 19th, 2018 at 12:27 PM ^

My biggest concern with his movement is that he doesn't appear capable of running. It looks more like he waddles down the field. To me, that speaks to a lack of flexibility and athleticism. I'm not saying it can't get fixed, but at this point he looks like a guy you wouldn't expect to see on the field until he's a RS JR.

GarMoe

September 20th, 2018 at 8:47 AM ^

Adam - you were right the first time.  I saw speed in there too.  He struck me as moving “efficiently” perhaps at times rather than going all out.  There’s a clip in there around 2:38 where he shows some good burst when he really wants to.  Perhaps that is what you saw more than what is captured on this film.  I’d say he’s a definite buy.

BigSi

September 19th, 2018 at 12:33 PM ^

I don't agree that he is heavy-footed. He appears to have quick feet for a high school player of his size. That being said, he appears to lack the conditioning needed to attack defenders at the second level. Seems like a developmental prospect that has some of the genetic tools needed to play interior line at the power 5 level, but will need to have his body reshaped. 

ijohnb

September 19th, 2018 at 10:25 AM ^

Ok, I am finally going to bite.  The last I played organized football, it was on a crappy high school team where offensive lineman were the biggest (fattest) guys with enough agility and coordination to engage in an athletic endeavor.  A guard could be a tackle, a tackle could be a center, it really did not matter, it (I) was a big fat guy doing his best to push another one.  (Obviously I knew there were intricacies in the different positions at higher levels, but it never occurred to me that two players of roughly the same dimensions could be really good at guard, but almost excluded from consideration at tackle).

What is it about a player like this that is disqualifying from him being considered a future tackle?  The proportions are there, what is the difference between a tackle and a guard to the extent that whatever nuance involved between the positions cannot be taught to a talented and engaged recruit?  When I see that Michigan continues to recruit and get commits from "interior lineman," I ask, why can't he simply be made into a tackle.  What are the intangibles that seemingly cannot be taught?

DonAZ

September 19th, 2018 at 10:36 AM ^

Then there's also the ability to move laterally quickly.  Some of that can be worked on and taught, but the rest is likely what's built into a guy that size.  For an example of someone not agile laterally, see those GIFs of the poor FSU guard-made-a-tackle guy.  Bless his heart, he tries to move in step with the DE coming off the edge, but he falls way short.

Shop Smart Sho…

September 19th, 2018 at 10:47 AM ^

I've been intrigued by the lack of development by football players in lateral agility. It's something we work with tennis players on a lot, and we can get some pretty impressive gains from them. I don't know if football programs just don't work on it the right way, or if the muscle and size gains necessary for the rest of their skill sets prevents them from improving. Or it could just be that "macho" football players aren't willing to do the resistance band work necessary to improve because it isn't about picking up and putting down large weights.

DonAZ

September 19th, 2018 at 10:56 AM ^

I've never seen the inside of a football weight training room, so everything I write here is just me being a guy on the internet banging on a keyboard ...

If I were to guess, I'd say it's a question of priorities.  Given the somewhat limited time an athlete can spend in the gym (in other words, I don't think it's restricted by the NCAA like practices are), other activities take a higher priority.  They look for guys who have natural lateral agility, and they'll accept whatever that ability is.  

Maybe ... I don't know.  Given how important it is to be able to move side-to-side, you'd think they'd alter their priorities for guys playing tackle.

Fezzik

September 19th, 2018 at 11:35 AM ^

Obviously a college weight program and college coaching will help him immensely but Zach looks to have very short arms for his size, stands straight up out of the snap, lunges and dips his head down to make contact, is lumbering when he runs rather than looking like a smooth athlete for his position, doesn't display D1 lateral agility in the limited clip seen, and really didn't look as noticeably different from the rest of his teammates on the line as desired. I would consider him a project interior OL who needs a couple years to reshape his body.

LT is your athlete of the OL. You want long arms and lateral quickness, real quick feet. Need a strong punch without lunging to make contact. LT is the OL position most often tasked with taking on the opponents best pass rusher. You need to see a guy here who bends at the knees when and not folding at the waist when making contact or when making sudden moves. 

But I also predicted Stueber would be starting by this year, so what do I know.

ak47

September 19th, 2018 at 10:49 AM ^

Yeah he didn't look to move that well on the film to me and wound up on the ground way too much which implies he is doing a lot of leaning into people he is blocking.

Has potential but I don't see a problem with him being a 3 star, he is neither a technique guru or a physical freak so he's got a ways to go development wise to see the field.

BleedinBlue

September 19th, 2018 at 11:31 AM ^

I actually went to Moeller, and current coach youth football with former Moeller football coaches who believe this guy is going to be a good one. Does he need some conditioning/cut blocks....yes. But his run blocking is above average for his league (the GCL) which is arguably one of the toughest conferences in the country for sports. He will not, and should no see playing time in his first season as an O-Lineman. No offensive lineman should ever see the first in his first year unless the program is REALLY lacking. 

outsidethebox

September 19th, 2018 at 12:51 PM ^

You guys are being way too harsh.  This is a 17 year old who is carrying at least 25 more pounds than he is ready to carry. I agree he is not a tackle. (But holy cow...what's with Herron...his lack of effort was a bit astounding???)  It will take a couple years but he will grow into an OG just fine. Having said that, I do not think anything is a given here-he has his work cut out for him.