Realistic View of the Defensive Line - Behind Midwest Peers

Submitted by alum96 on September 16th, 2013 at 8:35 AM

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.

Comments

alum96

September 16th, 2013 at 8:47 AM ^

SHORT(er) VERSION

 

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

MGlobules

September 16th, 2013 at 9:02 AM ^

deserved a diary. . . with a little cleaning up. Maybe the mods invite you to do just that. Thanks for this blunt, sober analysis. It seems to me that in many ways we are Back to Denard Future here this week with a brilliant but somewhat erratic, still young QB who will keep us in a lot of games despite the line play, but still likely to have our hands full, even against strong squads in the B1G. The hype machine and money racing miles ahead of the product on the field is what really begins to wear me down. . . and makes Michigan an easy target for mockery. Don't expect DB to figure this out until we regularly fail to sell out, a day that may be coming. 

alum96

September 16th, 2013 at 9:52 AM ^

Those are 3 good propects.  Stroblel and Wormley are also Ohio kids and I'd expect offers on most top 15 Ohio kids from OSU - (insert non committable offers meme here).  I'd also say if you took away the Ohio offers from those 2 lists, the rest of the offer sheet is what I call Midwest plus.... i.e. good for a kid in the Midwest, but not a prime national recruit.  Stroblel has Stanford, Wormley not as much interest outside Big 10 footprint.  Pipkins frankly is the only recruit with the same offer sheet as almost the entire OSU D-line.  Hand and McDowell are similar.  Marshall and Mone are more typical to this "Midwest plus" offer sheet I am speaking of.  Not saying we cannot do well with those types - my main point is we are lagging severely behind our competition at this position.  Unless one beleives our competition to be a pretty disasterous Nebraska defense, Illinois, and Vanderbilt.  I think every kid we have not named Pipkins has a Illinois offer...

EGD

September 16th, 2013 at 10:00 AM ^

I think our recruiting on the defensive line has been very good. But we are playing a lot of redshirt freshmen and true sophomores. Defensive linemen usually need a few years to develop. If we'd gotten a couple more good defensive line prospects in the 2010 and 2011 classes then we'd probably be looking a lot better right now.

alum96

September 16th, 2013 at 10:08 AM ^

Agreed.  Same for interior OL.  These kids would have had another year to grow and be ready for their RS sophomore year unveiling.  But OSU is playing 2 true freshman, a bunch of RS freshman etc as well on the DL. 

WolvinLA2

September 16th, 2013 at 11:20 AM ^

Is there a reason you included OSU's true frosh and not ours?  Because Poggi had a killer offer list and Hurst had a quite good one as well.  Is it just because they aren't in the 2-deep?  Because that has less to do with them not being good and more to do with us returning a lot of guys on the DL from last year. 

alum96

September 16th, 2013 at 12:47 PM ^

Yes I just included the guys playing some ok minutes in 2013.  For us, Taco is on our "3 deep" (playing a bit) and their 2 freshman are on their 2 deep and playing a bit more (although I have not watched every minute of the OSU games).   Agree on Poggi's offer list - it is splendid.  Hoping we see him with 20 lbs of more muscle in 10 months backing up Pipkins or pushing for the other DT.  Hurst's is very good - "Midwestern plus" as I like to call it.... lots of ACC teams since he is out of Mass. plus OSU of course.

CLord

September 16th, 2013 at 10:09 AM ^

Tired of this argument.  Mariotta is a sophomore for Oregon.  Manziel was a freshman.  Clowney was a sophomore.   Every year we'll always have many redshirt freshmen and sophomores getting playing time.  Yes it's a young line, but the coaching is the real culprit here.

EGD

September 16th, 2013 at 11:58 AM ^

If you think the coaching is the problem, then tell me who on this line is underachieving? Heitzman, who we stole from Vanderbilt just before 2011 NSD? QWash, who is a converted offensive lineman? Frank Clark, who came in as a 218-lb. project? Black, a 278-lb. defensive tackle? Pipkins, who is already a fixture in the 2-deep as a true soph.? Wormley, who has three career appearances and is coming off an ACL tear? Ojemudia? Charlton?

As I see it, we have some talented young guys and then we have some less-talented veterans. We don't have talented veterans. So we need to be patient and let them get better.

BiSB

September 16th, 2013 at 10:06 AM ^

Bryan Mone is a good example. He's a consensus top-100 recruit (he's #75 on 247's composite). But he committed early to Michigan out of a lightly-recruited area, so his offer sheet looks meh. If he weren't solidly committed, you bet your ass he'd get a bunch more offers.

Offers are a great indicator, but have to be taken with a grain of salt and some context. See also: half of Alabama's "offers."

alum96

September 16th, 2013 at 10:11 AM ^

Nothing is 100% completely perfect as an analysis tool. I am looking at the greater picture, not 1 specific kid. There is 1 Mone who is in a lightly recruited area, not 8 or 10 of them.  Mone looks like a great prospect to me and has a light offer sheet being out in Utah versus if he was in Virginia I am sure it would be a heavy offer sheet.  MSU's best corner was a 2 star prospect in rural Georgia.  Stribling could be the next great CB and was a middling star prospect who we found at camp.  I get that. Finding an exception doesn't refute the larger point.

Zok

September 16th, 2013 at 8:50 AM ^

DL really isn just a bunch of guys, Has been for mnany years now with usually 1 playmaker at a time (Graham, Martin..etc). The elite usually have 2+ B Graham types at a time. UM usually had 1 elite guy at a time. Right now we have ZERO.

 

MGoLogan

September 16th, 2013 at 10:02 AM ^

Seeing that MSU has a much better defense than OSU, I do not follow your comment.  This whole post is about OSU's recruiting rankings and offers, yet Michigan has the #45 overall defense, OSU is #46 and MSU is #1.  If this post is about sacks (seeing that it focuses on the DL), still MSU is the team we should want to be compared to, as they are #14 in the country with an average of 3 sacks per game, while OSU is #41 with 2.33 sacks per game (Michigan is #62 with 1.67 sacks per game). 

alum96

September 16th, 2013 at 9:13 AM ^

#1 - UM should be compared to OSU, ND at minimum in the midwest.  Not MSU.  #2 - frankly MSU has a superior defense to Michigan right now.  I am not judging that on their 3 cupcakes they have handled but the defense of the past 2 years + returning almost the entire starting group.  Their defense will take a step back next year with the loss of 6 starters.  But with the talent level they are recruiting they have done the most with less in the conference.  #3 - see point #1.

FreddieMercuryHayes

September 16th, 2013 at 9:52 AM ^

You're the one that brought up offers as a reason why our DL isn't good. I brought up a counter point to this argument in MSU that a DL can, in fact, be great without offers from southern schools. And you won't find an argument from me that MSU has the best D in the conference.

Last year UM had three sacks through 3 games. This year, 5. OSU has 7 sacks through the first three games. I think you, like me, are disappointed in the team's performance on Sat and are trying to find reasons why. But I just think you're extrapolating grand conclusions based on too small a sample and using poor justifications, like the offers from southern schools. I also think you're too easily dismissing the fact that all the rotational players are true frosh, RS frosh, or true sophs. That's a ton of youth. I won't argue that OSU is building a great DL, but I also think UM is as well. Maybe it takes a year more, but all those DL you seem to dismiss are guru approved like OSUs. I just don't think that if UF offers a Florida kid that it makes that kid better.

alum96

September 16th, 2013 at 10:04 AM ^

There is more to a defensive line than getting sacks.  There are hurries, pressures, and outside contain on runs... not to mention getting gashed down the middle.  We have had precious few hurries and pressures (not to mention sacks) against 2 MAC teams.  We have been gashed often down the middle on runs. Etc. If you just want to use sacks I am sure there are some MAC schools with more sacks than UM and we can argue those MAC schools are "better".  It is an eye test and way more than just sacks.  But your other points I generally agree ....

MGoLogan

September 16th, 2013 at 10:10 AM ^

You have a lot of good info in the OP and you clearly put quite a bit of time into this.  With that said, what about OSU's defense makes you believe they are superior to UM (and MSU for that matter)?  The stats certainly do not show that, and neither does the "eye test".  Was the whole point of this post just to look at a certain players offer sheet?  If OSU is recruiting so well, is it a sign that they have really bad defensive coaching?

alum96

September 16th, 2013 at 10:17 AM ^

UM and OSU's defense are similar in "age" - they both are playing a lot of [very] young players. Most of their/our talent is (probably) sophomore level or lower - excluding 2-3 players on each team.  MSU - who I concur has the best defense in the Big 10 is a senior/junior laden team with 6 senior starters.  I am not going off "stats" per se to say who has the superior defense THIS year in week 3 - MSU wins that.  As my original post said, the counter arguement meme to my post will be "but OSU's defense is sucky and giving up points left and right".  We BOTH have extremely young defenses except for a part of our LB core and a few of their LBs and DBs.  Same with us, except we have more experience on the DL  MSU has built up to this specific defense over 3 years and I expect quite a few steps back next year since its upperclassmen heavy.  Their stats will be superior this year to everyone in the Big 10 on defense due to having their talent in the oldest players (mostly). 

MGoLogan

September 16th, 2013 at 10:23 AM ^

Fair enough, and I agree with you about MSU next year.  I guess my point was that neither UM nor OSU have a very good DL or defense this year, or so it would appear after 3 games.  If OSU has recruited superior athletes than UM on the DL (which I agree), is that a sign of lackluster coaching on OSU's part?

alum96

September 16th, 2013 at 10:39 AM ^

#1 I am not speaking to the whole defense.  Frankly I really like our LBs - old and young.  I think they are being hurt seriously by the DL not doing their job.  WIth a stout DL our LBs would be looking a lot better and at least you see them doing (very) well here or there.  

#2 - not sure if you watch any of the OSU games, if you have I apologize but I just disagree when I watch them that they dont have way more flashes of playmaking in their DL even if the overall team defense is somewhat disjoined and giving up plays.  A young defense will as a whole give up points, while you see individual talent make some disruptive plays.  This is what I am seeing with OSU and maybe they play a more aggressive style that is allowing that.  UM seems to be playing ultra conservative in all 3 games - I get that with ND.  I dont get that with Akron and CMU.  (CMU game was fine as a total defense, and points allowed but again where was the Frank Clark dominance? Where was one of these young dudes saying "hah, CMU offense lineman, watch this splash play I make 2-3x in the game!")  Maybe CMU has 3 other Fisher's there so that is the excuse, but Akron?  Maybe Mattison is running an open tryout in a vanilla scheme against these MAC schools and thought he could get away with little scheme?  And now he will put out a lot of scheme. I am throwing it against the wall...don't know.

#3 I said in the OP it is far too early to judge Funk, Hoke, or Mattison on the lines.  So just the same it is too early to judge OSU's DL - they have 2 freshman in the 2 deep and a whole host of RS freshman types.  12 months from now let's have the coaching discussion.  I expect their DL to be far better in November than now.... ours? I don't know .. .that is what worries me.

Indiana Blue

September 16th, 2013 at 10:08 AM ^

everyone is attempting to compare recruits and players to each other (fine and natural) but do not ignore defensive style.  MSU has taken a very successful approach of a high risk defense.  They blitz more than any team in the B1G ... and so far its worked.  Michigan (thus far & typically) uses the "bend but don't break" style.  This includes a lot of zone coverage and basic defensive packages.  

Michigan's style allows the Akron's of the world a chance if the offense implodes (see 9/14/13) and my gripe is that MSU's defensive style would have rendered Akron's offense meaningless.  Do we have the athletes to run a "MSU style" scheme ?  Absolutely ... why didn't we ... no idea.

Talent and scheme combine to make great defense - not one without the other.

Go Blue! 

alum96

September 16th, 2013 at 4:55 PM ^

This is only year 3 of top end defense. In 2009 the fan base wanted Narduzzi canned.  In 2010 they improved to 30's in total defense.  Then 2011,2012, and this year are their prime years.  They lose a lot of top end players off the D this year.  It will be interesting to see if Narduzzi strike out on his own after this year since next year will be a step back just from a youth movement standpoint.  His stock will never be higher.

Space Coyote

September 16th, 2013 at 9:05 AM ^

Pipkins (both NT for that) have been good this year, and Pipkins has been relatively consistent when he's played as well. I'm not to worried about him.

Wormley has been stuck in a position where you are going to struggle as a RS FR where you weren't able to get many reps because of injury last year. Why is he stuck there? Because pretty much everyone around him is in a similar boat. It's all about technique with him right now, and let me tell you, for a young guy to play DE his whole life and then be tasked to hold up to doubles at the college level is no small task. It takes a lot of time.

Michigan is extremely young at 3-tech and 5-tech. There is a reason they actually look good in their 4-3 under and are struggling in nickel. It  comes down to amount of reps, comfort, and technique.

I have seen quite a bit out of Ojemudia. He has shown great flashes but is still learning run defense.

Henry has showed quickness that can develop into a great 3-tech. He still has a ton to learn, especially holding up in the run, but he has potential to really bother defense on the interior.

Pass rush at this level isn't a small task. I've said it several times now, but it's so much about pass rushing as a unit. And when you have a lot of young guys you are bound to have guys not do their job. The pass rush has been poor this year, and I'm not saying it's acceptable. What I'm saying is it's still way to early to write them off for the distant future, let alone for what they may become by the time the year is out.

Also, FWIW, I know you're trying to say "look, even Purdue's DL did better against ND...", but Purdue actually has a good DL. Like, a really good DL. They have experience and good players. So where ever they are right now compared to Michigan shouldn't be so drastically shocking. Is it a shame they may be better than Michigan right now? Yeah. But Purdue may have the best DL in the B1G.

alum96

September 16th, 2013 at 9:10 AM ^

Space, I respect your views since you seem to have an extensive football background from how you write.  I agree many of these kids have specific issues that have maybe not allowed them to flash (Wormley specifically) and I am not as down on Pipkins as some others as he played as a freshman at a brutal position.  I hope your views come to fruition and a year from now we have some young Graham's and Martin's.  Frankly a program of his level should not have just 1 of those at a time, but at minimum 2, with another 2 starters who are not 2-3 steps lower. 

My counterpoint to your point is OSU's DL is essentially all new faces thrown together as well and has been getting a lot more playmaking. So hard to say UM with MOAR experienced players (Black, Washingtin, and Clark) among the starters should be getting less - that is 3/4 of the starters.  And yes I realize Mattison is rotating like mad but....

Frankly my larger worry is 2014. The offense loses every major front line skill player except Devin + 2 tackles. The defense has to carry the team for most of 2014. And I just don't see it happening with this DL even with 1 more year of experience unless there are some quantum leaps the next 10 months.

Space Coyote

September 16th, 2013 at 9:30 AM ^

1. Michigan didn't have anyone nearly as college ready come in as Spence or Washington. Those two guys were college ready. They were a Hand type recruit. When you don't bring in the few that are that, they will take much more time to develop, it's as simple as that. It doesn't mean they won't develop into good players though, just that it takes time.

2. I'm not saying Michigan is in a great position. There may be issues if this unit doesn't improve. They absolutely 100% need to improve from where they are right now, because right now they are not nearly good enough. My claim though, is that it is too early to write them off because they haven't shown what OSU has shown so far.

3. Michigan's situation right now is like if MSU had to play most of their DL as RS FR. One of the reasons MSU is good (and I know you don't want to compare Michigan to MSU, even though MSU's ability to field a great defense has no baring on Michigan's ability to field a great defense) is because they give their raw players time to develop into good players with their skill set. Michigan's players have more potential than most of MSU's players, however, MSU has had time to develop their guys and has done a hell of a job in doing so. If Michigan gets to MSU's level of defense with the players they have on their roster right now, then the staff and players have done a great job developing into a great unit, but it takes time to get there.

alum96

September 16th, 2013 at 10:47 AM ^

Generally agree with your points other than #1.  We can make the case that OSU has brought in a lot of players "college ready" on the DL - not just the 2 names we all know and love.  Jamal Marcus (class of 2012), Schutt (class of 2012) Michal Hill (class of 2013), Joey Bosa (2013).  They have 2 pure freshman in their 2 deep in addition to Spence, Marcus, Schutt and Washington.  That is 6 guys of that age.  They have brought in a whole host of guys who are "college ready".  Here is the 2 deep vs CAL.

Space Coyote

September 16th, 2013 at 11:07 AM ^

Bosa hasn't looked college ready, neither has/did Schutt. I would argue having guys like Hill and Marcus as back-ups doesn't make them college ready. Fine as rotation guys against weak compitition? Alright. But you are giving their guys way too much credit. OSU's DL isn't as good as you're making it out to be.

WolvinLA2

September 16th, 2013 at 11:17 AM ^

Exactly.  Getting college PT doesn't make you "college ready."  Our true frosh haven't seen the field (or seen is much in Taco's case) because we have good players ahead of them, not because they aren't college ready.  If we threw any of our guys into the rotation, they might look as good as Bosa or Hill, but we haven't needed them.  

Needs

September 16th, 2013 at 9:50 AM ^

1. To take the 3 guys you highlight above: QWash, Clark, and Black.

QWash both has been hurt and has barely played outside of week 1 (and he's going to come off the field against most passing spreads). He also plays a style that, when he's playing well, you're not really going to notice, as his job is mainly to hold up to double-teams on the interior line in order to keep blockers off LBs. If we start seeing Ross and Morgan having big games later in the year, that will be a sign that QWash is healthy and playing to his level from last year.

Clark has experienced a tremendous body transformation in essentially two years and is still learning to play in that body. He's flashed a bit (knifing through against ND) but so far hasn't figured out how to use leverage to beat tackles. Let's see how he develops across September and October, as he gets more experience. Akron is not a promising sign, though.

Black has been consistently disruptive from the interior. He's still just 270, though, and is going to get washed out against doubles. When he's been singled up against guards he's been by far the best pass rushing lineman.

2. What you're also seeing in the shortcomings of those three players (who are, respectively, a converted guard at NT, a built-up safety at DE, and a WDE playing undersized DT) is the echoing effects of a moment when it would have been crazy for a highly rated defensive player to come to Michigan. If you were a coach, would you have advised your star player to come to Michigan to play under GERG (Black) or for a brand new staff taking over after a defensive tire fire? Even as a Michigan alum, I sure wouldn't have. On the lines, more than anywhere else, it just takes time to know (though certainly not only on the line, see Gallon, Jeremy).

3. Of the other guys playing on the line, it's just too damn early in their careers to know. Pipkins has looked good and Henry flashed a lot against Akron. Heitzman seems responsible if not dynamic. All the others are redshirt freshmen and are thrown in there a year too early because of point 2, and Wormley is just one year on from a major knee injury that before AP, everyone considered at least an 18 month recovery process (and I'd think this is especially true with a lineman expected to hold up against double teams and cut blocks). I expect the next month of games will give some indication of for whom the light is going on. 

I haven't watched OSU enough to make any comparison, so I won't. 

Zok

September 16th, 2013 at 9:57 AM ^

the only year we have had two DL studs at once has been 2006 and we know how that turned out. Then we had woodly and branch at their peak destruction. SEC teams and OSU have that kind of DL EVERY YEAR. 2+ playmakers.

They reload on DL. Michigan has to build up a DL over time and get experience across the front four it seems ( 3 guys plus 1 NFL pick). IMO, UM should be one of the teams that reloads at DL. Esp with Mattison and Hoke as coach you breach manball 247 (it is year 3, and year 1 was a BCS win). Hopefully Hand gets realed in and can make an instant impact along with upperclassmen Pipkins. Pipkins has shown flashes IMO. UM needs to get with the big boys and have 2+ playmakers on the DL. I was hoping Pipkins and Clark could do it this year.  

 

Space Coyote

September 16th, 2013 at 10:00 AM ^

Outside of Bama, LSU, and South Carolina, no SEC teams had what you're claiming last year. And South Carolina, even with Clowney, isn't excellent at pass rush this year.

People are acting like something that is extremely rare should be the expectation because their rival did it and the team that won a national championship 3 out of the last 4 years has done it. It's harder than that people. The switch doesn't just happen over night.

Zok

September 16th, 2013 at 12:15 PM ^

There will always be 3 SEC teams and OSU with that kind of talent. Are we unrealistic for thinking UM should be at least in the same arena in terms of DL talent?

UF has had 7 DL drafted in the top 4 rds since 2007 btw. Longest they've gone is two years btwn DL top 4rd draft picks. UGA has not but that has not been there team strength. They've sent more LBs and DBs in the top 4 rds (UM doesn't consistently do this either btw).

PSU has had top 4rd DL drafted at least every two years since 07.

Purdue has has a top 4rd DL drafted at least every two years since 07.

Of that group UM has probaly been closest to Purdue/PSU (3 top 4 rd since 07, 2 in 07). Usually 1 stud at a time. Which is still pretty good. I just think some fans would like for something a little better. Esp if thats the unit the coaching staff is hanging their hat on. As of now this DL unit doesn't have a playmaker.

I mean when Hoke says this is Michigan foregodsakes and everyone eats it up.

Yet when we as fans have the same attitude (UM foregodsakes... we should destroy Arkon and have a good DL) then we get labelled as being unrealistic, not patient..etc..etc

Hoke says big ten title or failure. I bet if I said this team is a bunch of failures this year if they happen to lose to Northwestern and OSU and don't go to the championship I bet ppl would say I'm not being realistic and pile on me. We have to wait two MORE years..etc..etc. Hoke won't say that though. He'll just call it what it is.

Nothing wrong with fans saying the same thing. DL is not that good. That's fair at this point. DL hasn't been elite outside of 1 year in last 6-7. That's fair too.

 

 

moxiechicago

September 16th, 2013 at 8:57 AM ^

Don't worry, I've played a few seasons into NCAA 14 and our DL turns out to all be studs. Taco sets a Michigan career record for sacks AND breaks the NCAA season record for sacks.

DirkMcGurk

September 16th, 2013 at 9:13 AM ^

Is the LB's. we are trying to generate a pass rush with 4 down linemen. I feel the confidence isn't there in our linebackers ability to blitz. We seem to be playing a very generic defense.