Warning - long post but I think it's important to lay out the facts of our DL, so have tried to place a thought process that can do so below. If this is the wrong place to post a long piece, mods please move to "diary".
First let me say I am a Michigan fan and alum so while you may feel free to downvote at will, most of what I present below will be facts, even if they are taken as negatives. Second, this is only partially driven by the Akron game so it's not a knee jerk response as much as a view of what has transpired these first 3 games; notably the 1st and 3rd but after watching Purdue's DL do quite well with Notre Dame until it wore down in the 2nd half, it also is driven in part by the Notre Dame game.
The knee jerk reaction is its on the players here. Obviously both our lines are substandard versus what a championship quality team has. I am not speaking "champions of the midwest" which nowadays is like crowning a junior varsity beauty queen, but something similar to what would give UM a fighting chance first a top 2-3 type SEC team (or Oregon or whomever is a great team that year). I am hearing the "fire Funk" chants by some on these boards but the talent of UM's offensive line is in the 2012-2013 class outside our 2 elder tackles. Funk may be great, poor, or a very average coach. I don't know. He will have a ton of raw clay to work with and his work will become clear in 2014-2015 when these kids hit the field en masse. The pedigree of the OL kids of 2012-2013 classes is very high, so we will see what the staff creates out of them ... but not this year as only the first wave (Kalis) has hit the field. Miller is a 2011 kid, and Glasgow fergodsakes is a walkon. But if you are the one(s) denouncing Funk's coaching for the OL, you should be equally denouncing 2 of the 3 biggest names on the staff for the DL - that is Mattison and Hoke. Arguing for one to be dismissed for the lack of production without equally arguing for the other 2 is a bit silly when both units are a fail versus championship quality. My larger point is it is WAY TOO SOON to judge either.
Now on to the talent portion. After these tough outings by our 2 respective lines, I am looking to the future and wondering what we have. And how it compares to our 2 Midwest football power peers (insert Midwest football power joke here) - ND and Ohio. Again, the OL classes of 2012-2013 look to have a lot of talent and while surely some will not pan out, there is a lot of raw clay to work with. But on DL? We have issues. These are young players. When young players are very good they flash. I am not looking for Mike Martin or Brandon Graham as juniors. I am looking for a "hey player ABC looked a lot like Brandhon Graham on that play... oh snap player ABC just screwed up on the next!! oh well he is a RS freshman". We can see that sort of thing happening with Kalis because... he is Kalis. We see that sort of thing happening with J Ross because... he is good. I have seen no one do this of the younger players on the DL. And that makes me worried.
Stars matter to a degree. More important to me really is offer sheets. When other powers come for a kid, that means that kid is really showing. This is where you insert the JMFR meme - yes we all know every so often you hit on a 3 star (or 2) and he blows up. We wave our muppets and every time another 3 star arrives we say MIKE HART! JAKE RYAN or heck Kovacks of walk on fame. But let's be real, if hoarding 3 stars with the hope 70% because JMFR was the way to go, this would be Alabama's way. You need to hoard 4 stars and try to get a 5 star every few classes to build a championship (even Big 10 championship team) contender that has staying power*. *=Wisconsin. With that said the long a$$ preface of this post is over and I offer you a comparison of what OSU is recruiting and has in house on the DL versus our DL. And yes I know DL has been their strength in recruiting but aside from a few kids like Strobel, Pipkins, Wormley - we are nowhere near their level. (Mario and Taco are good midwest recruits but still below what OSU is recruiting). Some of our kids have what I'd call "MAC+" offer sheets: MAC teams + Illinois or Purdue or Indiana etc. Maybe one will turn into Jake Ryan, but asking a bunch to do that is silly. So before we get on Hoke and Mattison's case - consider the clay they have to work with. Compare it to OSU's clay... or what Funk has with the OL. It's a major issues. p.s. I did not do as extensive of a look at Notre Dame but did look at 4-5 of their players inclusive of Nix and Tuitt and the offer sheets mirror OSU.
This is where you give me the meme about how OSU's defense is not impressive and giving up tons of points to Buffalo and Cal. To which I say, OSU's defense is as young as ours. The entire DL is brand new. They have some experience in the LB (less than ours) and DB (about same as ours) They will only get better. And scary better if recruiting (stars!) matter in the coming months and next year (at the DL).
Below is a side by side comparison with major offers from each player - I won't list all, but you should get the idea of caliber of teams recruiting each kid:
OSU just lost 3 DL players, 2 real studs + Garret Goebel
- Simon - ND, Nebraska
- Hankins - Bama, Florida, UM, Oklahoma, Wiscy
- Goebel - UM, ND, Tenn, Wiscy
Huge losses - this would be like losing Martin + Graham off the same line plus say a 3rd very good college level player. How do they replace it? Folks it's sick - this is essentially the 2 deep for the current OSU squad. And these are all Pipkins age - or younger other than Bennett.
- A. Washington - Bama, FSU, Miami, UM, ND, USC
- Noeh Spence - Bama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, UM - yada yada (think "Hand")
- Tommy Schutt - Florida, Miami, UM, ND, Penn State
- Jamal Marcus - Clemson, Florida, ND, South Carolina, Vandy
- Joel Hale - Florida, UM, Penn State (this is 1 of their 2 WORST recruits by offer sheet)
- Michael Bennett - UM, ND, Penn State, USC, Stanford
- Steve Miller - Florida, UM, UCLA, Nebraska (this is 1 of their 2 WORST recruits by offer sheet)
- Michael Hill - Bama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, LSU, UM, S. Carolina, Vanderbilt
- Joey Bosa - Bama, Auburn, Florida, FSU, UM
I call these all national offers - these would be MIDWEST powers (ND, UM, OSU + SEC offers. There are 2 - Miller and Hale who you could argue only have a SEC offer due to Urban and Florida... but that is it. The rest are not Midwest recruits but national top end recruits. If 3 fail to develop they still have an entiring starting DL + 1 extra that do.
Again please do not take this as a criticism but real recognize real. Here are our kids. Pipkins is a national recruit, and Stroblel is a bit behind. Wormley has a OSU offer but there is no SEC type offer.... then it drops to Taco + Mario... then it drops off the map. So if like OSU 3 of our players below don't develop... and it's the wrong 3, we essentially have a MAC+ type DL. One that can be neutralized by MAC OLs. Which frankly is what is happening. I did not include Ash, Q. Wash, Black or Frank Clark for obvious reasons as they are upperclassmen... or in Clark's case, recruited for a diff position. I also did not include Glasgow for obvious reasons but the mere fact he (bless him) is pushing for playing time is saying something. I know i know - insert Kovacks meme here.
- Pipkins - Bama, Florida, OSU, Oklahoma, Tenn
- Wormley - OSU, MSU, Illinois, Indiana (without the OSU offer for an in state kid, it is not as impressive looking)
- Strobel - OSU, Nebraska, Wiscy, Stanford, MSU, Vandy (a nice top end Midwest recruit...but lacking SEC interest outside Vandy)
- Ojemudia - Stanford, MSU, Illinois, Iowa
- Charlton - ND, Nebraska, UCLA, Tenn, Iowa, Illinois
- Heitzman - Vandy, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana + a lot of MAC schools
- Godin - Wiscy, MSU, Vandy, Missouri, Illinois
- Henry - Illinois, Louisville, Pittsburgh + a lot of MAC schools
Takeaways: Pipkins must hit. Realistically OSU has 6 Pipkins right now across their DL at ends and tackles. They have the luxury of 1-2 not hitting. We do not. Strobel must hit. He is the 2nd best recruit by offer sheet, but it lags behind all but maybe 1 OSU recruit. From there when you lay the offer sheets side by side UM lags, and not by a small amount. This is the current reality. Obviously coaches are addressing this in the current class - Mone and Marshall are nice starts but they are similar to a Strobel or Wormley offer sheet. We need to start hitting on the elite - the McDowell and Hand and down the road the Cornell and other similar.
Sorry for the length of the post but as I bang my head against the wall wondering why I am not seeing the flashes out of the young DL like I am seeing out of a James Ross or when I watch OSU give up tons of scores to Cal... but still see those flashes from their DL players, I resort to reality. The above is reality. We are way behind OSU's level of DL recruits. I can only imagine what Hoke and Mattison could do with the clay Urban has on the DL. We need MOAR high level clay. Otherwise I am worried our 2014 complaints won't be too different than our 2013 complaints.