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]
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.
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.