What Happened To The Offensive Line? Comment Count

Brian September 3rd, 2008 at 12:45 PM

Site note: due to extended, extremely annoying problems trying to find a piece of software that can create clips from the hyper-ninja mega-encoded torrent downloads, UFR will either be late today (think 7 or 8) or you’ll get a dual blast tomorrow.

It was sometime in the second quarter when Michigan ran an honest-to-god zone read stretch play and David Molk’s butt ended up hitting Sam McGuffie seven yards behind the line of scrimmage. It did this because one of Utah’s two sophomore defensive tackles picked it up and hurled it there.

Watching this, one thing—John Ferrara’s position switch—became clear. Another unclear thing became pressing: how the hell did we end up here?

A dossier of linemen that could or should be in the program now. Players actually available are bolded.

Fifth Year Seniors

  • Grant DeBenedictis gave up football after a couple years when it became clear he would never play.
  • Brett Gallimore was terribly overrated, spent last year on defense, and packed it in after he got his degree.
  • Jeremy Ciulla was a backup who saw time last year but decided not to return.
  • Alex Mitchell loves pie.


  • Justin Schifano didn’t like football and stopped playing it.
  • David Moosman, Mark Ortmann, and Tim McAvoy started against Utah.
  • Cory Zirbel would have started but for his knee.


  • Steven Schilling started against Utah.
  • Perry Dorrestein is a backup tackle.
  • John Ferrara was a defensive tackle until two weeks ago.
  • Mr. Plow transferred.


  • Mark Huyge has an ankle sprain but should return relatively soon.
  • David Molk started against Utah.


  • There are six, they are freshmen.

Only twelve non-freshmen were recruited to play offensive line. Six of those left the team, including every single player in the disastrous 2004 class—normally your seniors. The junior and sophomore classes had two highly-recruited future stars… and three other players. The 2007 class of Molk and Huyge is especially terrible since by that point Schifano, Gallimore, and DeBenedictis had already left. Michigan filled up with a guy with MAC offers and one decent but undersized prospect.

Blame goes to Carr, who recruited so erratically, Andy Moeller, who was the line coach, Rodriguez, who has no family values, and whoever was identifying linemen to go after. To me this list goes “miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, Schilling maybe, miss, miss, miss, miss, guys Moeller couldn’t destroy.”



September 3rd, 2008 at 1:09 PM ^

I propse we re-institute the pizza eating plan, combine it with the updated S&C, and adminster lots of anabolic medicine. The increased calories + better training in conjunction with the anabolic effects and enhanced recovery from the "medicine" will add slabs of muscle to our lineman and a nasty attitude.

Ellipses Man

September 3rd, 2008 at 1:15 PM ^

It's no secret, you just live in the weight room. PERIOD. Jon Jansen was the prime example of a guy who lived in the weight room. Second, they need to recruit guys with some drive. Carr got some unmotivated flap jacks. No one should look to Rich and point the finger. We can question calls and what not, but theres an implied forgiveness even in the questioning of calls. Like one Michigan blog said, at this point questioning calls is like questioning if you want to get hit in the balls with a golf club or a sledgehammer. Debate it all you want, it's going to hurt either way.


September 3rd, 2008 at 1:20 PM ^

So after an off-season of slurping Barwis, we're going to blame lack of weight room time?

And then, of course, there is the suggestion to recruit guys with "drive" as opposed to recruiting guys who play offensive line better. 

Not every football dilemma can be solved with a foray into tea-leaves, tarot cards, and psychological profiling. 

Ellipses Man

September 3rd, 2008 at 4:25 PM ^


Weight room time is an ongoing thing. You just do not let em leave. I remember Jansen's time well. He did not leave the weights. Drive is not quitting. There are some big softies out there when it comes to OL. You hope you don't recruit a cream puff.

Blue Durham

September 3rd, 2008 at 8:43 PM ^

Take the money from Dex!  It will hurt him a lot more than you, and you can post in other, retarded forms and be $75 a week richer.  You can even change schticks. 

One week you can post as a retarded, wino homeless man, then Dex would pay you off for that. 

The next week you could post as a retarded bimbo with the call letters, say, DDgoblueDD (lol).  Another $75 a week!

And lets just say that, things don't work out for RR and reader start clamoring for a change, you could promote, as the next coach, the hiring of a chimp.  And go on and on about it.  Yet another $75 a week.

 This could be a fucking gold mine!!! 


September 3rd, 2008 at 9:42 PM ^

There are two ways to take what you say here with this "don't leave the weights" thing.


1. You mean it figuratively. As in, work out a lot.


Thanks. That's brilliant. D-1, Big 10, offensive lineman should lift a lot of weights. Jon Jansen, a long time NFL starter, lifted a lot of weights. I bet Steve Hutchison did too. I also bet a lot of terrible terrible offensive lineman lift a lot of weights and aren't very good at football as well. So your statement means less than nothing. It adds zero to any conversation. It's just saying something EVERYBODY already knows - that football players need to lift - like it's a piece of wisdom from the Dalai Lama himself. And that's arrogant. Even more arrogant than me, which is tough.




2. You mean it literally. As in, spend ridiculous amounts of time in the gym. This is also stupid, and makes me suspect you may not have ever touched a weight in your life. Muscles grow in recovery. You can only push the muscle so much before it becomes counter-productive to growth and performance. This is called over-training. Now, there are a lot of 15 year old kids who post in strength training forums that worry about "overtraining" when they don't need to, but it is a real condition. Living in the weight room 12 hours a day is a good recipe to find out just how much it can hurt your progress. There will always be physical freaks like Arnold who can do high volume, high intensity, high frequency workouts - but guess what? These people combine insane genetics with anabolic steroids, which decrease the amount of time you need for recovery.


Either meaning is dumb. This is why I don't like you.  

Ellipses Man

September 4th, 2008 at 1:07 AM ^

Like me, hate me, love me, berate me, I just find it funny that you cannot ignore me. Where do you guys meet again? Where does the WLA meet and would I be welcome? I mean is it some Marxist thing you do or what? You're probably a really smart guy and all. And I can tell you want me to leave.

Ellipses Man

September 4th, 2008 at 1:19 AM ^

Scorch the earth Dex, you win, I lose. Do I feel good or bad? No. What is the solution for the line then? What do you suggest besides verbally beating e-man up? It's ok that you don't like me but what would do or hope for with this line? All you can say at this point is,"Hit the weights, eat, sleep and hopefully you get better next year." Even if you recruit new ones or new DE your harvest is way down the road.


September 4th, 2008 at 10:19 AM ^

There isn't anything to "suggest". They need to play more, and hopefully they get better with experience. That's all. Nothing more.

We're meeting at Grizzly Peak, Friday evening. You are more than welcome to come by, but if you start talking in bizarre monologues that last for more than 2 uninterrupted minutes I'm just going to walk away. 


September 3rd, 2008 at 1:30 PM ^

.....our OL is subpar!?!?! Why did no one warn me!!!!!

 Really, what did people expect. We dont have top flight recruits on the line right now and they have not been coached up until now. Pretty sure the last coaching staff considered most of who is on the line now as career backups. But, because of player attrition and Mr. Plow, they are starters.

That said, I love the potential of the incoming freshmen O-Linemen. I think we'll see one of them play (Barnum) sooner rather than later. The future looks a lot brighter on the line than the present day, Thats a certainty.

A big key in the current day will be if Schilling ever starts to live up to his huge promise and recruiting rating coming out a high school. I am beginning to wonder about that, however.


September 3rd, 2008 at 1:42 PM ^

Points of note on Schilling:

1) He's a Guard, and is playing out of place at Tackle.

2) He had mono before last year, toughed it out down weight and got mauled like every game as he was keyed on.

3) He can't block 3 guys at once.

4) Moeller.

5) He was an interior lineman in HS (right?) in a pass first system, then spent 2 years here out of place trying to drive block on the edge.  Now he might look bad at tackle, but Olines that haven't played together much amplify each other's mistakes.


We should be lauding the poor guy not lamenting him.  All things considered he's kicking ass.


September 3rd, 2008 at 1:36 PM ^

...and seeing the embarrassment of riches they have at OL is depressing.  Anyone who questions Pryor's decision need look no further than our OL personnel.  The kid surely thought "Shit, I'm gonna get killed.' He's no dope.  Also: #@$%!


September 3rd, 2008 at 1:37 PM ^

Also, while the sophomore class is terrible in all ways possible, Zirbel (4*) and Boren (4*) have to be considered when you talk about the current situation.  Boren, if he wasn't a big flabby sack of whiny bitch, would have anchored the middle relatively well this year.  Zirbel also would have been a vast improvement over Molk.  Add in one semi decent 5th year, hell, 0-4 on fifth year senior OL is terrible, make it 2 5th years, and you have a solid line.


All I see when I look at this is Moeller sucked and there was one bad OL recruiting class.  But the class above them had a 5* and 2 4*.   Also, Moeller.  That really is a bad sophomore class given our 11-2 record that year and Jake Long mauling people.


I just looked at the 2007 class for the first time, and it's amazingly horrible.  Marell Evans is a 2 star. 12 3* and 1 2*...where the hell did the "we're Michigan we can take just 4* and better if we want" meme come from?


September 3rd, 2008 at 1:48 PM ^

where the hell did the "we're Michigan we can take just 4* and better if we want" meme come from?

Probably when everyone looked at the Ohio St. recruiting class, which is operating under the meme "we're filling up so fast we only have room for 4* or better unless your brother will transfer here and cause further damage the the Michigan offensive line."  Apparently doing anything else meant we are settling for less.


September 3rd, 2008 at 1:54 PM ^

I've been thinking about this problem for a while now.  I am concerned that we're in a bad cycle right now.


What I mean by that is the skill position players will be peaking, but the O-line will still be down.  By the time the OL peaks, our multiple year starters at the skill positions will be moving on, and so on.  To win, you really need it all to come together at the same time.


I've felt for many years that Michigan has had this cycle problem as between the Offense and Defensive sides of the ball.  When one was strong, the other was down, and vice versa.  There are very few seasons in recent memory where both were peaking at the same time.  2007 being an obvious example.  Even the championship year in 97, the offense wasn't that special.  

The only way to really put out an elite team is to have at least one side of the ball that doesn't cycle, it just constantly reloads.  OSU and USC are teams that do this.  The drop off from peak to off-peak is very small.  Otherwise, you really need to get lucky and have 2 amazing recruiting classes on both sides of the ball that gel together.  

I hope Rodriguez can figure out how to sync up all the different aspects of the team so that we can peak at the same time and make a title run in the near future.  I don't have any suggestions though.   


September 3rd, 2008 at 3:54 PM ^

He was good at cycling his teams so that they all peaked at the same time.  He did it because he could.  Once every few years they were ready to throw him out for terrible performance (but they could not of course), and once every few years he played for a national championship.


September 3rd, 2008 at 1:59 PM ^

There are a lot of pieces moving against us on the OL:

1. Total lack of experience

2. Total lack of depth

3. No time playing together

4. Utah debacle was the first game

5. Lack of first rate talent among seniors and juniors and no fifth years

Its just going to take time.  Items 1-4 will start coming together in the coming weeks. Item 5is a multi year issue.

My hope is that by the end of the ND game, the line becomes functional (i.e. Mid-level Big Ten quality).  Anything more than that appears to be wishful thinking.  Next year we may be decent as the freshman physically develop to the point of being workable and the guys currently not wearing redshirts distance themselves from Moeller.


September 3rd, 2008 at 2:09 PM ^

Dix -- this cycling issue is fixed by consistently recruiting and coaching. 

This is based only on my perceptions, but it seems that we have become
dependent upon individual talents as opposed to relatively high skill
levels across the board.

Our OL became a liability under thin recruiting and poor coaching.  Jake Long concealed a lot of weakness on the line because he could walk on water (quite and accomplishment for a guy weighing over 300lbs.) 

At QB, there had been no depth behind Henson, Navarre (hell, the started was iffy) or Henne (after Gutts left).  With Brady we had Henson, with Griese we had Driesbach, with Grbac we had Collins.  We had guys who had been in the system a few years before they expected to see the field.  

Our LB play has been poor, with an occasional star here and there for sometime.   

Where we have been consistently strong (barring a game or Rose Bowl here or there) have been corner (although we have lacked depth), receiver and RB. 

The USCs and OSUs have been able to keep their recruiting and coaching at a consistently high level, allowing them to "reload".


September 3rd, 2008 at 2:20 PM ^

I don't see a cycling issue.  We are losing NO ONE from offense after this year, at least not to graduation and certainly not to the draft (Butler?).  Bringing all those guys back next year will make our offense immensely better.  By that time we will have enough of a core that we shouldn't have this problem again for some time.  New coach takes a little time.  I feel like we've been over this.


September 3rd, 2008 at 2:27 PM ^

This post reeks of Notre Dame-ish lamenting: por coaching, poor recruiting, woe is me, etc, etc.

Frankly, it's scaring the hell out of me.

Enjoy Life

September 3rd, 2008 at 3:23 PM ^

So, I went on the internets and "nd" is NOT copyrighted.

 Neither is "Returning to Glory"

Neither is "Since 1993"

 So, are there any U/M grads that are lawyers out there willing to "pro bono" and file an injunction (or whatever) against nd so Brian can start selling the fabulous T-shirts again.


September 3rd, 2008 at 3:48 PM ^

I doubt it's copyright infringement.  It's probably Trademark infringement, but more likely it's them bitching and moaning to prevent shirts they don't like.  If you can point me at more specific details of the kerfuffle you're referring to I'll get a better response for you.


September 3rd, 2008 at 4:41 PM ^

Is there a bathroom in the actual weight room or do they just pee on the floor?

Oh my God! I just remembered about eating. How the hell are they going to EAT if they don't get to leave the weight room?  They're going to actually LOSE weight!

 I think perhaps you ought to reconsider you're advice.

Ellipses Man

September 3rd, 2008 at 4:54 PM ^

Caup you're so right. What do you suggest? I spent a summer working for Jim Mora and the New Orlean Saints.......wayyyy back in the day if youre doing the math.....the lineman knew the phrase,"You arent leaving the weightroom," very well. I played basketball in college against Jon Jansens brother and all I heard was the same thing,"Dude never left the weight room for four years." BUT, every OL recruit I think is scared of Barwis. Boren, I mean, I don't get that at all. Family values? Dude he would've started and now he's on the bench? For what family values? This group of OL will not, WILL NOT leave the weight room now that Barwis is here. If I was a lineman, I'd pick MI just for the conditioning aspect. I know how bad the ROOKIE OL get teased and abused verbally by OL coaches in the NFL if they think they are going to get babied.


September 3rd, 2008 at 5:04 PM ^

There's been a lot of Barwis hype, but I don't think many people realize it's gonna take him about 14 months to REALLY get the players fully conditioned into his system. Sure, he's made a difference in the 8 short months he's been here, but I think you'll see even more of an impact next year, especially on the OL.

Ellipses Man

September 3rd, 2008 at 5:11 PM ^

I completely agree. I wish the governor of california aka arnold was into Strength and Conditioning. He would've loved your post. "You can peeee on the floooor girly man. You and your wussy lineman friends are not going to leave this weight room until next season. i 'll get you some supplies of food. Do you understand me? Here's a copy of my tapes of Mr Olympia and a Conan dvd. Good luck ladies." lol 


September 3rd, 2008 at 6:13 PM ^

I just read this and thought you might see the humor, especially in this thread:

Michigan - Rebound. Utah is really, really good. The big concern
is the way the Wolverines struggled to run the ball. When all else
failed, Michigan was supposed to be able to pound away with its good O
line [Emphasis mine]
and great running backs, and it didn't happen. It might take half
the season, but the Wolverines will rebound.

Ellipses Man

September 4th, 2008 at 1:01 AM ^

Like Michael Phelps said,"I eat, I sleep and  I swim." That is all I am saying. You just give it your all without the junk roids. Lineman can only do so much technique work. Beyond that it comes down to size and strength+DESIRE. I think Jon's dad Larry said in off season at times Jon would be 6-9 hours a day in the weight room under Gittleson and co. It helps he's smart, a great athlete and a big guy naturally though.


September 4th, 2008 at 10:06 AM ^

You cannot physically lift for 6-9 hours a day.  In fact, science has proven how incredibly stupid this would be based on muscle recovery and other factors.  To provide an example you might understand, but I doubt, is that sometimes when I'm in the gym, during the 45 minutes or so I'm there busting my ass so I don't have to spend more time than necessary, I see people do literally 2 or 3 sets of work.  I do about 15 -18 sets in 45-55 minutes.  I see people do 2 -3 sets in the same time frame.  Ergo, they would need to be in the gym 6 - 9 hours to do the same amount of work.


Additionally, you said this "It helps he's smart, a great athlete and a big guy naturally though."  So the fact that he has the drive and desire is just a small bonus then aye?  Not, you know, something you specifcally said mattered more than anything in a different post you wrote.

Ellipses Man

September 4th, 2008 at 11:34 AM ^

  1. There's lifting, plyometrics, stretching, cardio and then rehab. And of course eating. And we all know that being in the weight room does not always mean lifting. Sometimes you talk and what not. I've known a good many Michigan scholarship athlete and many do orbit a large part of their day in and around some form of weight or workout in the off season.
  2. There really is not quick fix for the line. And there really is no way to know how a kid will mature and turn out. To the average fan of football who reads Brians blog here or the WLA, you should try to think of what this current coach inherited before attacking his results on Saturday. People quit, got bored with football and some gradutated or went pro. There were guys back there with zero game time experience.