Playing Young and the "Barwis Effect"

Submitted by bonobojones on December 13th, 2010 at 3:56 PM

I would assume that a certain percentage of us that would be sad to see RR go would also be very sad because it would mean Mike Barwis would leave. From the voice and attitude to the Brock story, he has been a huge positive at the University. One of the things that excites me about his program is the emphasis on replacing bad mass, fat, with good mass, muscle.

In interviews with him and players, it comes across that your first year with him is amazingly dificult.  So I've always wondered, does the change take place? And, does this make playing young even more dificult? For a young player must not only learn to play the game at a higher rate with a higher level of sophistication, they must also do it while massively transforming their bodies. This could lead to big problems as seen by the defense this year.

So what follows is a big chart based on official team rosters 2008-2010.  The % column is the percent body weight change, and the bottom is the overall % change for that position group that year.

  2008 2009 2010
player Wt. Class pos Wt. Class pos % Wt. Class pos %
Forcier       188 FR QB   190 SO QB 1.1
D. Robinson       185 FR QB   193 SO QB 4.3
----------------- ----- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- 2.7
Cox 206 FR RB 208 RFR RB 1.0 211 RSO RB 1.4
Shaw 185 FR RB 178 SO RB -3.8 188 JR RB 5.6
V. Smith       168 FR RB   180 SO RB 7.1
Toussaint       185 FR RB   200 RFR RB 8.1
----------------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -1.4 ----- ----- ----- 5.6
Gallon       165 FR SR   188 RFR SR 13.9
Odoms 171 FR WR 172 SO WR 0.6 175 JR SR 1.7
T. Robinson 170 FR WR 171 RFR WR 0.6 176 RSO SR 2.9
Roundtree 154 FR WR 170 RFR SR 10.4 176 RSO SR 3.5
----------------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- 3.9 ----- ----- ----- 5.5
Hemingway 214 SO WR 220 RSO WR 2.8 225 RJR WR 2.3
Stokes       181 FR WR   193 SO WR 6.6
Stonum 190 FR WR 196 SO WR 3.2 195 JR WR -0.5
----------------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- 3.0 ----- ----- ----- 2.1
Koger 220 FR TE 249 SO TE 13.2 256 JR TE 2.8
Webb 249 SO TE 245 JR TE -1.6 268 SR TE 9.4
----------------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- 2.9 ----- ----- ----- 3.0
Barnum, 265 FR OL 275 RFR OL 3.8 286 RSO OL 4.0
Dorrestein 308 RSO OL 306 RJR OL -0.6 321 RSR OL 4.9
Huyge 292 RFR OL 288 RSO OL -1.4 306 RJR OL 6.3
Khoury 280 FR OL 283 RFR OL 1.1 295 RSO OL 4.2
Lewan       268 FR OL   294 RFR OL 9.7
Molk 282 RFR OL 275 RSO OL -2.5 287 RJR OL 4.4
Mealer 280 FR OL 299 RFR OL 6.8 313 RSO OL 4.7
Omameh 260 FR OL 276 RFR OL 6.2 305 RSO OL 10.5
Schilling 295 RSO OL 304 RJR OL 3.1 308 RSR OL 1.3
Washington       325 FR OL   315 RFR DT -3.1
----------------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- 2.0 ----- ----- ----- 4.7
Banks 258 RSO DE 266 RJR DT 3.1 285 RSR DT 7.1
Cambell       318 FR DT   331 SO OL 4.1
Heininger 239 RFR DE 261 RSO DE 9.2 277 RJR DT 6.1
Martin 285 FR DT 292 SO DT 2.5 299 JR DT 2.4
Patterson 259 JR DE 263 RJR DE 1.5 276 RSR OL 4.9
Roh       238 FR OLB   251 SO LB 5.5
Sagesse 308 FR DT 279 JR DT -9.4 289 sr dt 3.6
RVB 265 RFR DE 271 RSO DT 2.3 287 RJR DE 5.9
Watson 242 RFR TE 257 RSO OLB 6.2 268 RJR DE 4.3
              2.2       4.9
Bell       220 FR LB   245 RFR LB 11.4
Demens 226 FR LB 236 RFR LB 4.4 246 RSO LB 4.2
Ezeh 247 RSO LB 243 RJR LB -1.6 244 RSR LB 0.4
Fitzgerald 230 FR LB 232 SO LB 0.9 244 JR LB 5.2
Herron 218 RFR LB 220 RSO LB 0.9 220 RJR LB 0.0
M. Jones       203 FR LB   208 SO LB 2.5
Mouton 230 RSO LB 228 RJR LB -0.9 240 SR LB 5.3
----------------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- 0.7 ----- ----- ----- 4.1
Floyd 190 FR CB 183 RFR CB -3.7 183 RSO CB 0.0
Rogers 180 SO WR 182 SO WR 1.1 188 SR CB 3.3
Woolfolk 195 SO CB 193 JR S -1.0 195 RSR CB 1.0
----------------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -1.2 ----- ----- ----- 1.4
C. Gordon       208 FR WR   207 RFR S -0.5
T. Gordon       205 FR S   205 RFR S 0.0
Hawthorne       198 FR LB   205 RFR S 3.5
Kovacs       194 RFR S   195 RSO S 0.5
Williams 185 RFR S 188 RSO S 1.6 200 RJR S 6.4
----------------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- 1.6 ----- ----- ----- 2.0


I will preface my this by acknowledging that this is probably a terrible analysis. I once spent good time and money with someone with a doctorate trying to teach me an intro to stats. It did not go well, my future studies avoided stats classes.

In every position group besided WR, the overall % weight gain was larger in year 2 vs. year 1 under Barwis. Anecdotal evidence supports the first year being a mix of removing bad weight and putting on good weight.

Looking at the large changes taking place with OL, DL, and LB, it's obvious that these players should not be playing young. Or at least we should not be judging them so much based on performance in their first couple of years.

This also seems true with the smaller explosive athletes at RB and Slot. These players all underwent pretty massive changes. Shaw especially lost a good amount of weight and put it back on. I think he was noticeably a more powerful runner this year when healthy.  This also goes for Vinnie, who not only had to recover from a massive injury, he put on a large amount of weight.  

There is a lot more analysis to be done if this info was to be truly useful. I feel I need to adjust for age for example. But like I said, I'm pretty terrible at stats, so maybe someone else can use this info paint a clearer picture. Just wanted to share it and see what others thought about it and the idea of the dificulty of playing young under Barwis.



December 13th, 2010 at 9:00 PM ^

Barwis's methods are obviously more up-to-date than the 1970s/80s stuff we were doing under Gittleson, but don't assume that there aren't plenty of other good S&C guys out there.  Most likely, what Barwis has done is bring us up to the level of other schools, rather than push us out in front.


December 14th, 2010 at 1:33 AM ^

if you look at trends in strength and conditioning over the years, not too much has changed. Most of the "trendy" stuff now is all fluff . Getting bigger/faster/stronger has always been the same: lift heavy sh!t, eat well and run your tail off. You would be surprised how long most "trendy" fitness stuff has been in use for years (e.g plyos, fast twitch conditioning/speed work, etc).

However, having said that, you may be right about methods that were used under Gittleson. I'm not entirely sure what happened back then.


December 14th, 2010 at 4:33 PM ^

going to claim I know what happened under Gittleson as fact because, well, I don't know. Barwis did nothing wrong in my book, but what I'm saying is why do we need to consistently treat him as if he's moved mountains? By all anecdotes, he's good at his job. Great, but posters spouting off about him like they know for fact that he has made these kids heads and shoulders better than any other strength coach really grinds my gears.


December 14th, 2010 at 9:47 PM ^

I don't worship many people. The difference between one program and the next is very slim. If Barwis gives us any advantage, it is good. Is he going to win a NC for us? Perhaps not. I will even go so far as to guess that many of the people singing his praises don't know that much about S&C (nor do I). Now, what D1 program hired you to be their S&C Director? Posters spouting off about him like they know for a fact he is no better than any other strength coach really grinds my gears.


December 13th, 2010 at 4:11 PM ^

This is an interesting point that you're touching on.  One thing you should do is control for relative age and compare it to past changes at UM and other schools.  Is this change something out of the ordinary or is it typical of an athlete who is 18-22 years old? 

Son of Tacopants

December 13th, 2010 at 4:34 PM ^

Look I love me some Barwis but theres not a fooball program in the county that doesn't try to add "good" muscle to players.  In football more than any other major sport most 18 -19 year olds are just not big and strong enough to compete with the same amount of talent 10% heavier at 21-22 yrs old.


December 13th, 2010 at 6:18 PM ^

I disagree. When you see the overall strength and speed numbers that Barwis produces it is mind boggling.  When a guy like Owen Schmidt is doing 500lb+ cleans...that is olympic strength.  Look at the numbers Will Johnson put up after a year with Barwis.    It is true that everyone has good S+C programs now...Barwis is just one of the best...if not the best.


December 13th, 2010 at 6:29 PM ^

First, I'm not saying these are fabricated, but do you realize numbers are just that until you see the proof? A 500 pound clean is, well, just insane. You hit the nail on the head though. That is olympic strength. So you mean to tell me that Barwis has these fellas hitting 500# cleans in just a few years of training and the guys who do it for a living sometimes don't even get there?

Bottom line is, who cares what their numbers are? Does their on-field performance show it? It's all about translation to the sport...


December 13th, 2010 at 7:09 PM ^

If you look at WV after he arrived and the effect he has had on getting the young guys ready...I think the performance speaks for itself.  I could be wrong but I remember being blown away by Martin and Molk's clean numbers on the UofM weight room leader boards.  I think they were both over 450 but I may be way off base. 




December 13th, 2010 at 7:58 PM ^

It's really not about numbers. Does it translate to the field? Not saying it doesn't, but that's what's important... I don't see any noticeable changes from the LC days, just being honest. And you're right, performance does speak for itself and ours hasn't been too great. I'm sure it's not Barwis' fault, but you're not really proving your point there.


December 14th, 2010 at 1:58 AM ^

I think numbers do matter when judging a S+C coach.  His job is to make players fast and strong, so the measurables do matter for his job.  All he can do is max out a kid’s athletic ability.  Please don't tell me we are expecting Barwis to coach football techniques?  Barwis has had a bunch of freshmen and sophomores.  LC's teams under the Pizza Monster's regime seemed to always underachieve the last 5 years or so.  If RR goes Barwis will go with him and whatever school gets him will be the better for it.


December 14th, 2010 at 12:31 PM ^

That is my point, people don't want to give Barwis his due.  Talent is Talent.  Barwis just takes that talent and makes it faster and stronger.  Also he got our players back to doing free weights and olympic lifts (no snatch).  Every major program in the counrty is doing olympic movements...Michigan during the Pizza Monster era moved to Machine based lifts...we had fallen behind the science of training powerful football players and currently we are catching up .

I counter the dumb Jake Long argument with my dumb "Denard rushed for more yards than any QB in history"  argument.  Does this mean that Barwis is the greatest S+C coach in mobile QB history?



December 15th, 2010 at 8:29 PM ^

So Barwis is a better S&C coach than florida's, oklahoma's, usc's, ohio states, Lsu's. I don't buy it. I think he is very good, but to say he is the best in the business, you would have to be able to point at considerable differences you see in michigan, you don't see at other programs,and i don't see it.


December 14th, 2010 at 10:56 AM ^

that post, you've proven you don't know much about S&C as it applies to a specific sport. S&C is vastly different for different sports if you didn't know. Coach football techniques? Huh?

Oh yeah, Michigan's "underacheiving" record under Carr the since 2000 (9+ wins in 6/8 seasons):

2000: 9-3

2001: 8-4

2002: 10-3

2003: 10-3

2004: 9-3

2005: 7-5

2006: 11-2

2007: 9-4


December 14th, 2010 at 12:13 PM ^

Yes for a team that was stacked to lose to App State and coast.  I mean I know they didn't have much that year...Henne, Hart, Avant, Manningham, some guy named Jake Long.  Oh and a defense that didn't start 8 freshmen during the year.  Yes his teams underacheived.  That 11-2 team may be the best team to walk through the doors at Michigan.  

Lol yes I know nothing about S+C conditioning.  The football/powerlifting coach who is a member of the NSCA and goes to 4-5 S+C clinics every year. 

Barwis trains in all areas as they relate to football.  When we talk about injury prevention, dynamic flexibility, core traing, strength/power, speed training, balance and funtional training...we see someone who gears his programs toward winning football games.  I guess the reason why I know this is I have seen his workouts.  It is really difficult to find an area where our players are lacking in training.


December 14th, 2010 at 1:26 PM ^

you're really reaching here, sorry. S&C is a small portion of the game. You mean to tell me the team lost to App State b/c of bad S&C? That's laughable at best. Oh, I forgot to mention the 1997 National Championship team. I guess they underacheived too.

I don't know what you mean when you say football/powerlifting coach, but I assume you know they are very different when it comes to training goals.

And yes, great, he uses all the trendy buzz words of the fitness world. I'm not knocking the guy, but recognize that he has his limitations there's only so much an S&C guy can do for a team.

Clarence Beeks

December 14th, 2010 at 11:07 AM ^

It's really not about numbers. Does it translate to the field?

This is a great point and I think this is where Barwis excels (and where I would disagree with your prior post about things not changing over the years).  The methodology of how those numbers are attained has changed a lot (over recent years, especially) to ensure that those strength gains more accurately translate to the field.

Clarence Beeks

December 14th, 2010 at 5:56 PM ^

However, to me, based on field performances, I see no difference.

I think that, right there, actually shows that there is a difference.  Every player on the roster has had less time under Barwis than even the most experienced players had under the pre-Barwis system.  If you can't see a difference that says to me that our less experienced players are reaching the same level as the more experienced players faster.  The test of whether there is a real difference will come in the next two years, in my opinion.


December 13th, 2010 at 5:51 PM ^

The old program added bulk at the expense of speed.  The new program increases strength and speed, with the bulk being pretty much a by-product.  Michigan was lagging behind the rest of the country in their style of conditioning.  Finally, they are on the same page as the elite teams are.  Barwis is doing a great job, but time has to do its share, too. 

We will see a much more finished product on the field this season.


December 13th, 2010 at 6:51 PM ^

Unless any of us were involved in the old S/C program and the new one, I don't think we can draw any conclusions on what happened. And how do you know Michigan was lagging behind other programs before? Certainly didn't stop us from winning games....

And FWIW (e.g. take with a grain of salt), the player (who was previously a competitive powerlifter) I've spoken with directly regarding the S/C claims it's nothing special and some of the interns (not Barwis himself) are actually teaching techniques that are, how do I say this...less than optimal for injury prevention.

I think people get really caught up in the whole "Barwis is the greatest ever!" thing. Sure, he's obviously good at what he does, but people fail to realize there's only so much a strength and conditioning program can do for on field performance. Buddy Morris (of Pitt) is a guy who is one of the most respected in the biz and in interviews, he has even admitted there is only so much you can do in the weight room.


December 14th, 2010 at 5:04 PM ^

Romey, I think the key difference between LC era S+C and RR S+C is that LC let the players who had the determination to play and play hard almost take care of their bodies on their own. I would be willing to bet that the dropoff in conditioning from LC's first stringers to the guys buried on the depth chart is far more significant than in RR's program. RR pushes even the most unheard of 2 star or walkon to their maximum performance, and rewards work ethic with starts. I also know for a fact that RR drug tests players on a weekly basis, whereas LC did it monthly and the players knew about them ahead of time.

Don't get me wrong, LC was a great coach and the reason his product on the field was so consistently solid was because the players had the fundamentals instilled in them like no other. LC would always preach to his team that the most important thing was not turning the football over, and if you ask me this is the fundamental difference between LC + RR besides obvious things like Spread vs Pro and 3-3-5 vs 4-3. RR finally has (kinda anyways) his players, but probably needs to preach ball security and smarter decisions better (this comes with age as well, and LC rarely was starting as much youth as RR) That being said, I'd like to see a DC who can bring back those aggressive turnover forcing defenses of the past, because an old school Michigan defense combined with our modern offense would make this team a top 15 year every year, no doubt in my mind. I don't even want to use the youth or caliber of recruits left on our defense as an excuse. I want to see these guys grow older and play Michigan defense, not Greg Robinson defense. Hopefully we see that happen and DB realizes that we don't need to gut the program and start from scratch again, because it'll just lead to another reset button which is stupid when progress, at least in terms of wins, is being made. Probably a little tangential to this diary, but oh well.


December 14th, 2010 at 9:50 PM ^

the real question is what each trainer had for raw talent prior to their program.  

I think Barwis inspires many of his players - and that is a very underrated thing when it comes to keeping a 18 to 23 year old student motivated for 365 days over 4 to 5 years.

While training does not directly equal winning, it is a key component.


December 13th, 2010 at 6:22 PM ^

I'm willing to grant that we were lagging other programs under Carr, though for the most part we more than held our own with programs that now shove us around in the conference.  In fact, the only conference team that established dominance -- not physical dominance--over Michigan was OSU under Tressel.  Gittleson's players did not lack strength--we had no trouble with the Ron Dayne types. 


My question is why we've seen so many injuries this year, year three under Barwis?  Shouldn't a more balanced overall conditioning program reduce some of the muscular and soft joint injuries by increasing flexibiity and strength?

Blue in Seattle

December 13th, 2010 at 6:45 PM ^

and what I would propose as a model to test is that what Rich Rodriguez is building is a team that is strong AND fast.

Michigan did not handle Oregon so well in 2007.  The defense did an adequate job with Florida at the end of the year, but that game was won because the Offense was finally unleashed.

I consider 2007 that last year that we had upperclassmen as primary contributors in the starting lineup.  That team did not react well to speed.  Thus the first two games were chasing contests.

Once the present systems talent is at an upper class level, then we'll have the statistics we need (wins over losses) to answer all of these questions that at the moment we can only guess.

Blue in Seattle

December 13th, 2010 at 6:46 PM ^

and what I would propose as a model to test is that what Rich Rodriguez is building is a team that is strong AND fast.

Michigan did not handle Oregon so well in 2007.  The defense did an adequate job with Florida at the end of the year, but that game was won because the Offense was finally unleashed.

I consider 2007 that last year that we had upperclassmen as primary contributors in the starting lineup.  That team did not react well to speed.  Thus the first two games were chasing contests.

Once the present systems talent is at an upper class level, then we'll have the statistics we need (wins over losses) to answer all of these questions that at the moment we can only guess.

Maize and Blue…

December 13th, 2010 at 7:25 PM ^

Nothing you can about knees as they are not made for athletics, concussions and broken bones have been a majority of the injuries.  How can you possibly relate these to S&C?  We haven't seen muscle pulls like we had in previous years and there are not that many players that are actually in year three with Barwis.  If you actually question his methods maybe you should ask why so many NFL players come back to work with him?

Under LC we very seldom played freshman, but where are all the RS seniors, seniors, and junior quality starters that he left?  No where, so RR is left playing a bunch of youngsters who can't physically compete with fourth and fifth year players.


December 14th, 2010 at 1:10 PM ^

The comment about types of injury seems on track, but I wonder if it's still magically Barwis's fault. 

Anecdote: When I started rock-climbing a lot, I gained muscle mass pretty quickly. I realized I could curl much heavier dumbbells than ever before, so I bought some 25 kg ones and went at it. The problem was that bones gain strength more slowly than muscle, so I injured the bones in my forearms doing it.

So I wonder if the broken bones and everything are a result of players being stronger than they're used to being. Seems plausible to me, and it's the best of both worlds--we can blame Barwis for fun but we don't have to be mad at him because it's actually a good sign.