Tim Drevno as OL coach

Submitted by Erik_in_Dayton on February 15th, 2018 at 7:00 PM

This diary was originally going to be called The Heteronormative Kinship Relationship of Jim Harbaugh and Tim Drevno and Its Representational Role in the Construction of Masculinity in the Academy Around the Body-as-Athlete.*  But that ended up seeming pretty long. 

The board is - as you've no doubt observed - very down on Drevno.  What is posted below is offered as evidence that Harbaugh has reason to be loyal to Drevno as an offensive line coach (maybe especially as a producer of lines that can run the ball).  It is not offered as evidence that Drevno is a good offensive coordinator or recruiter.

Drevno became Stanford's OL coach in 2009.  This was the first year Andew Luck started and the year that Toby Gerhart was a Heisman finalist. 

Stanford's offense jumped from 31st in the S&P+ rankings (gaining 351.8 ypg) in 2008 to 6th in those rankings (gaining 427.6 ypg) in 2009.  The Cardinal were the 11th ranked rushing team.  Luck and Gerhart were a major part of the offense's improvement, but Drevno's OL hardly held them back.

Stanford's 2009 OL featured a first-team all Pac 10 tackle (Chris Marinelli) who was also second team All American, a second team all Pac 10 center in Chase Bealer, and three honorable mention all Pac 12 players (Jonathan Martin, David DeCastro, and Andrew Philips).  DeCastro and Martin were first year players. 

Stanford's offense took another step forward in 2010 despite losing Gerhart, finishing 3rd in the S&P+ rankings (gaining 472.5 ypg).  This was the year Luck became a clear high first round draft pick, and I don't mean to minimize that at all.  But again, Drevno's OLs hardly lagged behind their fellow offensive players.

Stanford's 2010 OL helped it get to 17th nationally in rushing yards.  And they gave only up six sacks.  This bears repeating: they gave up only six sacks!

Stanford's 2010 OL featured a first team All American and first team all Pac 10 center (Beeler), two other first team all Pac 10 players (DeCastro and Martin), and two honorable mention all conference players (Andrew Phillips and Derek Hall). 

To put Stanford's 2010 OL performance in context, Alabama has fielded three first team all conference offensive lineman only twice during Nick Saban's tenure (I won't argue if you want to say that this is harder in the SEC than it is in the Pac 10/12).  Also, all of Stanford's offensive lineman in 2010 (and 2009) were three-star guys coming out of high school.  The  overall player rankings per 247 of the six lineman who started on the Stanford OL in 2009-2010 are as follows: Martin (459), Marinelli (735), DeCastro (360), Beeler (391), Hall (rated as a WDE)(810), and Phillips (934).

In 2011, Drevno followed Harbaugh to San Francisco, where he stayed until 2013. Drevno's record in SF was mixed. 

The Niners went from 24th in total offense in 2010 to 26th in 2011.  They then improved to 11th in 2012 but dropped to 24th in 2013.

The Niners had no Pro Bowl offensive linemen in 2011, but they fielded one (Joe Staley) in 2012 and two (Staley and Mike Iupati) in 2013. 

The line's statistics in 2011-2013 were admittedly up and down - and the line was never good at pass blocking.  The 49er OL dipped from 13th in adjusted line yards in 2010 to 21st in 2011, but it improved from 30th in sacks yielded to 21st.  In 2012, the line jumped to 1st in adjusted line yards but dropped to 29th in sacks yielded.  In 2013, the line dropped all the way down to 29th in adjusted line yards and ranked 22nd in terms of sacks allowed.  Those 2013 stats are slightly odd in light of Staley and Iupati making the Pro Bowl.

Harbaugh stayed in San Francisco for 2014, but Drevno went to USC.  There he helped the offense move from 59th in the S&P+ rankings in 2013 (gaining 399.1 ypg) to 18th in 2014 (gaining 457.6 ypg).  His OL also featured a first team all conference player (Max Tuerk), who had been honorable mention all conference the year before, and two true freshman players (Toa Lobendan and Viane Talamaivo) who were given honorable mention all Pac 12 honors. 

The Trojans were 68th in rushing nationally in 2014.  They gave up 32 sacks (7th best in the Pac 12 and a slight improvement on the 34 they surrendered in 2013).

I assume everyone is acquainted with what Drevno has done at Michigan, so I'm not going to cover that (I'm also running out of time and energy to work on this thing). 

Taking all of the above together, Drevno came to Michigan having produced at least one truly excellent line (2010 Stanford) and one really poor line, albeit one that had two Pro Bowlers (SF in 2013).  But it seems he produced more very good to good(ish) lines (Stanford 2009 and SF 2012) than bad ones (SF in 2011).  And his production at Stanford and USC was with middling recruits (Stanford) and true freshman (USC).  So my takeaway, as I said above, is that Harbaugh can justify his loyalty to Drevno as an OL coach. This seems especially true if we're talking about run blocking and maybe (see below) not so strong a statement if we're talking about pass blocking (2017 Michigan says hello).  You are, of course, free to agree, disagree, or somehow squeeze a Jim McElwain shark joke into this.

One more thought: It was surpsingly hard to find information about sacks allowed for Drevno's time at Stanford and USC.  I could not find any information on that for 2009 Stanford or anything more than what I posted re: USC's 2014 pass blocking.  I also couldn't find sacks allowed for 2008 Stanford in order to compare them to 2009 Stanford.

 

*This joke will be much better if you were part of the "Michigan hosts pro-pederasty talk" thread that was caved earlier this week.

Comments

Cali's Goin' Blue

February 15th, 2018 at 7:55 PM ^

This is a solid diary post. Many of the stats given(other than adjusted line yards) can only partially be chalked up to OL performance, and therefore OL coaching, but as there aren't many stats out there to really guage an OL coach's ability, this is as good as it gets. I will say that I am, and have been completely fine with keeping Drevno around as his track record has been pretty solid as an OL coach. Pep on the other hand... IDK man. The only success I see in his track record is coaching Andrew Luck at two different spots, i.e. not on him. 

I trust Harbaugh and think that he knows much more than I do about the problems with UM's offense this past year. When a coach that has the track record of Harbaugh is the coach of my favorite team, I will trust them until they prove that I shouldn't. I think we as fans need to realize that although something(many things) obviously went wrong last year with the offense, we should trust in the man who has probably the best qualifications of any coach in the world to bring UM to where we want to be. 

MGlobules

February 15th, 2018 at 8:09 PM ^

I appreciate this. I think that Drevno's under sufficient scrutiny now that if he just isn't communicating or connecting with coaches/players in the next short while it will be hard to justify his continuing UM employment. But--not so much out of innate loyalty but because this is the damned school you follow/went to--once the contracts are signed you have to hope like hell that all these guys thrive. I don't see NCs in the immediate future; too many impediments and our arch-rival is a professional football team. But I do anticipate that Harbaugh can succeed in rational terms at UM. 

Mongo

February 15th, 2018 at 8:17 PM ^

Some guys are just not OC types. My impression has been that both Drevno and Pep are strong position coaches at OL and QB, respectively, but not necessarily offensive gurus. Both are damn good football coaches and experts at their specialties. Refocusing them on their strengths will help the team. And with McElwain an expert on WR development the overall team positional development will be much stronger in 2018 (we had a grad assistant coaching WRS last year - so JM is a big upgrade!). McElwain is more the OC offensive guru type if he goes back to his roots. Florida's poor offense was directly related to Nuss being the OC "guru" - another example of a good positional coach that isn't very good at OC duties.

Indy Pete - Go Blue

February 15th, 2018 at 10:11 PM ^

Someone needed to objectively evaluate his resume.  He is here for a reason, and he is still here for a reason.  As another recent diary noted, Harbaugh has consistently been excellent at all stops.  Why would Harbaugh keep a guy around if he does not believe he can/will perform excellently?  I hope this is the year that the head ball coach is rewarded for his confidence in Drevno.  Even the biggest Drevno apologist will stand by this mean-spirited line from Saved by the Bell, "it is time to put out or get out". (If anyone can name that episode - big admiration from me).  I hope that doesn't sound too harsh since you and others here are taking a mature tone; a tone that I respect.  Let's get behind our current coaching staff and cheer on a fantastic 2018 season!

JWG Wolverine

February 15th, 2018 at 10:12 PM ^

After reading this it ressaures my faith with Coach’s decision making. I’m hoping to see that he’s basically hired guys to take larger roles than Drev on the offense, keeping his experience on the staff but not failing to acknowledge his crazy failures this year.

I’m also hoping that Jim can take more of a role and simplify offensive playcalling. The complex democratic approach between everyone on the offensive staff calling plays seems like it could use some simplifying, and we could use our football genius head coach to take a heavier grip on what this team does with the football.

1VaBlue1

February 15th, 2018 at 10:19 PM ^

Good post!  It's good to see a voice for reason - whichever way reason points.  I'm good with Drevno's coaching because of his track record and the trust JMFH has in him.  But if someone can write something this well pointing to why he should go, then I'd be good with that.  But we don't see that, we only see 'UNACCEPTABLE'!  And that argument doesn;t sway me.

Thanks for an enlighting post!

skwogler

February 15th, 2018 at 10:44 PM ^

Jim Harbaugh appears to place a premium on loyalty.  Drevno has been with him a long time going back to University of San Diego teams.  I think Drevno is a good OL coach and may have been overstretched to be OC/OL coach. With Frey off to FSU, I expect Drevno to resume command and control of the OL with improved results.

A word or 2 about the remainder of the offensive coaching staff.  10,000 foot assessment.  Jim would be wise to define roles on the O staff commensuratte with definition of the D staff.

FWIW this is how I see it shaking out on O-side:

McElwein will be O-Coordinator responsible for overall offensive game-planning.

Pep--QB coach/passing game coordinator.

Drevno--OL/running game coordinator.

Jay Harbaugh--RBs

Sherone--TEs

2 areas of concern remain:  

1) who will coach up WR play?

2) who will coach up RB pass-pro?

skwogler

February 15th, 2018 at 10:44 PM ^

Jim Harbaugh appears to place a premium on loyalty.  Drevno has been with him a long time going back to University of San Diego teams.  I think Drevno is a good OL coach and may have been overstretched to be OC/OL coach. With Frey off to FSU, I expect Drevno to resume command and control of the OL with improved results.

A word or 2 about the remainder of the offensive coaching staff.  10,000 foot assessment.  Jim would be wise to define roles on the O staff commensuratte with definition of the D staff.

FWIW this is how I see it shaking out on O-side:

McElwein will be O-Coordinator responsible for overall offensive game-planning.

Pep--QB coach/passing game coordinator.

Drevno--OL/running game coordinator.

Jay Harbaugh--RBs

Sherone--TEs

2 areas of concern remain:  

1) who will coach up WR play?

2) who will coach up RB pass-pro?

Elwood

February 16th, 2018 at 12:14 AM ^

oline and run-game greatly improved throughout the season. The tackles were horrible, but that’s more to do with injury (Frey was OT coach too). Also, Ed Warinner is technically on the staff.

I think we should sit back and chill out on Drevno. The passing game was pretty whack, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Hamilton got a demotion to QB coach for the year too. The run game turned out okay.

Bluedream

February 16th, 2018 at 2:58 AM ^

I'm a Stanford guy and I have follwed Jim Harbaugh's move to Michigan.  We owe Jim a debt of gratitude for being the catalyst that returned Stanford to respectibility.  We also know that Jim was a short term bridge to David Shaw, a coach who took what Jim did and enhanced it.  

I read this piece and feel the need to address a very critical flaw to the logic that Drevno's OL success should translate. 

Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State play excellent defense and all 4 teams are built to stop the run.  The PAC plays notoriously bad defense, particularly against the run and especially during the years Harbaugh was at Stanford. teams like Iowa and Northwestern would be defensive powerhouses in the PAC.    

Harbaugh's offense was a nightmare for the rest of PAC.  He ran the ball 40-45 times a game and simply wore down inferior defenses.  Outside of USC in 2007-08 there was not a defense that came close to what Michigan has to play 4-5 times a year.  He had the benefit of a very weak Notre Dame during his final two seasons.  It was a perfect time for Stanford to climb out of the basement of the PAC.  7 teams were simply awful between 2000-expansion.  

The better OL coach in the program is Ed Warriner.  He isn't a sexy choice, the dude makes saltine crackers look exciting, but he can develop OL's that can handle the Big Ten front 7's.

 

Bill22

February 17th, 2018 at 11:36 AM ^

Agreed. Harbaugh is suffering from blind loyalty or an unwillingness to admit he was wrong about Drevno. Either way, the program would benefit from taking away his responsibilities related to Offensive play calling and OL coaching/recruiting/developing. Make Warriner the full time OL Coach and give McElwain the play calling duties. Pep can focus on QB/WR. What do you do with Drevno? Buy out his contract and send him on his way. There’s no shame in admitting you were wrong, just in not correcting your mistakes.

WeimyWoodson

February 17th, 2018 at 5:42 PM ^

Your comment here is the perfect response to Erik’s diary. Erik is a glass half full guy reading his posts for
The time I’ve been here. Very logical, and makes really good points. I think what was missing in his info was what you said about PAC defenses, especially at the time. They weren’t built to stop the run just like Michigan wasn’t built to stop the spread at the end of Carr’s tenure.

Playing in the B10 you’re looking at top flight defenses who specialize in stopping the run first and foremost. I believe that after 3 years and basically no real growth/development on the o-line is more then enough evidence to show Drev is not the man to fix it here. Warner built beast o-lines at Osu and that was before every 5* was lining up to play there. It doesn’t make sense to have him in a position where he’s not allowed to coach on the field.

I believe the real hold up with Drev keeping his job was the 4 year contract he signed last year and that he’s only completed one year. Even with Jim being untouchable Michigan doesn’t want to pay one assistant 3 million to go away. Fingers crossed with JM coming in from Florida taking the OC title has Drev make the decision to take a lower buyout and walk away.

CarrIsMyHomeboy

February 16th, 2018 at 6:28 AM ^

The key isn't to get rid of Drevno. The key is to get Drevno to stop splitting his focus. He has fully Peter Principled as an OC. So stop that and send him back to being monomaniacal at something he can actually be great at. Because coordinating isn't it.

maize-blue

February 16th, 2018 at 9:02 AM ^

Drevno is boring and uninspiring. That's how the O line plays too. This will be a make or break season for him, at least at UM. If JH was smart he'd let Warriner take over O line. It's too bad he paid Drevno so much $$$$$.

MinWhisky

February 16th, 2018 at 12:09 PM ^

Some other takes that are contrary, but nontheless consistent with your report:

  • Drevno had little to do with the performance of Stanford's OL in 2009 and 2010.  It was the OL players and not their coach, plus the talent and play of future NFLers Andrew Luck and Toby Gerhart.
  • Having a very strong running game AND a premier passer made it difficult for defenses.  That also made the OL look good.  Again, not really Drevno.
  • The Oline players at Standord did most of their development under Drevno's predecessor.  

Yo_Blue

February 19th, 2018 at 8:10 AM ^

It's great to see a solid, substantive post with thoughful comments.  I guess the trolls and haters don't bother with the diaries.  Please, please, please don't thell them about this section of MGo.

Appreciate the work, Erik.

Dillon

February 21st, 2018 at 9:42 AM ^

GREG ROMAN. GREG ROMAN. GREG ROMAN. 

His only year not with Greg you saw him have the 68th rush offense and give up 2 less sacks than the year before, WHOA. 

And now you have seen what he has done here. He's a capable position coach at best, and anyone trying to spin the numbers, I just can't help you. 

BeatIt

March 1st, 2018 at 9:10 AM ^

in college football. Yet he is a below
average recruiter. Between 2012-16 @ osu
9/20 OL transferred or got passed by on
the depth chart. It caught up to him in
2016 as you saw in "The Game" when osu gave
Up 8 or 9 sacks. Granted JT Barrett didn't
do his OL any favors with his horrible pocket presence in that game. A true freshman and redshirt freshman were first year starters on that line. I don't understand how a great position coach can be so bad at identifying talent. It will be interesting to see what warinner does with tjis roster. The running game will be much improved imo.

BeatIt

March 1st, 2018 at 9:10 AM ^

in college football. Yet he is a below
average recruiter. Between 2012-16 @ osu
9/20 OL transferred or got passed by on
the depth chart. It caught up to him in
2016 as you saw in "The Game" when osu gave
Up 8 or 9 sacks. Granted JT Barrett didn't
do his OL any favors with his horrible pocket presence in that game. A true freshman and redshirt freshman were first year starters on that line. I don't understand how a great position coach can be so bad at identifying talent. It will be interesting to see what warinner does with tjis roster. The running game will be much improved imo.