Question about O-line development

Submitted by Hard-Baughlls on October 17th, 2018 at 12:50 PM

A bit of a noob question for the board about o-line development and the job Ed Warner is doing.  

I have heard many times how o-line prospects are some of the hardest to project position wise coming out of high school, because so much of the position is mental and physical growth to take place in the first couple years of college.

Also it seems a great deal of the O-line group success is how they learn to play together - as it requires probably the most synchronization of any group on the field as their activity takes place is such small quarters over a quick period of time (From snap to run/pass is usually 3 seconds or less).  In a weird way I see them as elephants trying to dance ballet around each other - while simultaneously crushing opponents with power.

Anyways, my question is, given what seems to be improvement from the O-line this year since the ND game (reminds me of OSU losing to V-Tech in their first game in 2015 due to O-line issues, then running the table to win the title) - how much of the success of an O-line is due to talent, and how much is due to coaching and getting the players to function as a synchronized unit.  Quick caveat (that OSU line that ended up dominating Bama in the playoff was also a Warinner coached outfit).

So Runyan and JBB have gone from the pitchfork and torches crowd calling them hot garbage, to seemingly serviceable to solid tackles in a relatively short time frame.  This week, of course, will be a huge test, but run blocking seems to have never been their respective weaknesses fortunately.

I'm just glad we seem to be improving, but I also remember all the butt hurt we felt missing on Isiah Wilson and some other big recruits, as well as how set back we felt by Newsome's unfortunate injury.

TLDR - How good is Warinner?, How much of an O-lineman's individual success can be attributed to talent vs. coaching, and How much of an entire O-line's play can be attributed to talent vs. coaching?

Go Blue



October 17th, 2018 at 1:15 PM ^

Multiple friends from OSU stated the reason he left was because Meyer's assistant coaches are expected to position coach for a few years then take on an expanded role as a coordinator then leave for a HC gig somewhere.  He believes in constantly bringing in new coaches to keep the ideas fresh and to create a system where everybody is both moving up and then moving out.

Warriner failed badly as the OC according to all of them.  He did not do well in that role so when he had to relinquish those duties he really was a "man without a country" in their system.  So it was time to move on.

True Blue Grit

October 17th, 2018 at 1:24 PM ^

Interesting philosophy I guess, although it doesn't completely explain Larry Johnson being their DL coach for almost 5 years now.  Technically, he's also assistant head coach, but that's probably just a title.  Also, where this system would not work well is when you have a guy who really isn't suited to be a DC, OC, or HC, but is an excellent position coach.  They could end up losing an excellent PC (like Warriner).  Oh well, if so, our gain and their loss.


October 17th, 2018 at 3:42 PM ^

The same with Schiano to a certain extent.  He's in his third season at OSU but he certainly isn't an "up and comer".  Hell, he's already had an NFL HC gig.  Between Larry Johnson, Greg Schiano and Kevin Wilson (former HC at Indiana).....I'm not so sure about the theory that Urban brings in young coaching talent and then expects them to move on.  Of course, you have Tom Herman, Luke Fickell and Chris Ash (can't type that without laughing....) on this list of young coaches who became HC's.


October 17th, 2018 at 2:10 PM ^

mGrowOld, have your friends commented on this policy? Because it is a huge loss for them and huge gain for us. Also, do you have a feel for whether or not Warinner is comfortable with staying in an OL position coach position? With as important as this position is, I really hope Michigan can fire the money cannon and keep Warinner around for a long time.


October 17th, 2018 at 2:34 PM ^

They have.  They said the downside is exactly the situation that Warriner found himself in (a great assistant coach but candidly not much more) but the pros massively outweigh that.  They believe they attract a steady stream of excellent assistant coaches (hard to argue that point outside of Bruce's grandson) because they are told they will have an growth plan that assumes they will leave in 3-5 years to be a HC themselves.  They have no issue with it.

I have no clue if Warriner will go the route of Mattison and be an excellent, well-paid assistant for a long time or if he feels he can do more and will leave to find greater opportunities elsewhere.  I sure hope he stays (first good OL coach we've had in a VERY long time) but as you know sometimes people see themselves in a better light than others do. 

Lastly as some others have mentioned they all are of like mind on Warriner in three areas:

1. The dude can flat out coach OLine.  One of the best they've ever seen.

2. Meh recruiter.  Basically he's content with letting his results on the field do his recruiting for him

3. Terrible OC  They said his stint there at OSU was their worst offense under Meyer and it wasnt close.


October 17th, 2018 at 3:03 PM ^

Yes some coaches are just excellent position coaches and not cut out for more. It appears Wariner is in that mold and there is nothing wrong with it. Being a great position coach is a great trait especially when you help players reach the next level

many coaches know this and are content with staying there. I think wariner would be willing to stick around a long time here and have continues success


October 17th, 2018 at 2:47 PM ^

Interesting theory but as most things the info you have been given is probably a bunch of bullshit.   

Most coaches want a mix of young and up and comers on staff mixed with some more experienced guys.  

Most good young coaches want to move up and get raises so you need to create space for them so you hope your coordinators take HC jobs.

Zach Smith and Larry Johnson are examples the other way.  Harbaugh runs Michigan in much the same way.

To test you theory ask yourself this.  Name a program that hires strictly young guys that have stayed at their program for several years with little movement despite the programs success?  

The offense imploded under Warriner.  Hard to demote a guy so he probably told Urban to suck it when he told him he was stripping him of OC dities.


October 17th, 2018 at 3:45 PM ^

Can we name one online coach that excelled as a OC when he had to still coach the line in game?  It's not like a QB coach, or wr coach or even a RB coach trying to do both. The line coach absolutely needs to be on the field, which is a lesson Jim learn last year. 

This is not to say you can't be a good cordcoordin if you coached the line. But, on game day, you can't be responsible for the line and calling plays too. Giving in game coaching to the line is far to important to be in the booth. 


October 17th, 2018 at 11:23 PM ^

Meyer needs that influx of fresh ideas because he doesn't have any himself.  If he did he could keep someone like Warriner to stabilize their O-line.  Assuming excellent position coaches have to become coordinators and head coaches is organizationally illogical...really it makes no sense.

OSU at this point is entirely dependent on a continual influx of superior talent to remain competitive.  Their coaching isn't going to do it


October 17th, 2018 at 1:03 PM ^

He was previously at Minnesota and I don't think we can question why he would leave Minnesota to come to Michigan. He lost his job at Ohio State because he had been promoted to OC and that did not work out. Seems that he is a great OL coach but couldn't have the same success as an OC. Most coaches are not going to take a demotion within a program. 

Prior to that, I know that he spent some time as MSU (when they were terrible) as well as Kansas and I am not surprised that he left those situations. 


October 17th, 2018 at 1:38 PM ^

For sure Michigan is an upgrade from Minnesota. I would not try to upgrade a good O-line coach to OC. If it isn't broke don't try to fix it, is the approach I hope Harbaugh takes with him. I can only imagine him 4 years into player development.  It seems to me he likes being just a line coach. He specializes in one of the most important spots if not, THE most important coaching spots on a football team. Need to keep him like Mattison. Bring back the O-line factory we used to be known for.


October 17th, 2018 at 1:52 PM ^

I would imagine he would not try OC again at a bigger program as he saw what happened at OSU. I tend to agree with you, that if it isn't broke, don't fix it. Warinner, as with many other coaches probably wanted to try bigger and better things than being an OL coach. It is the reason we see guys like Chip Kelly leave great things to pursue the NFL. I am sure ego played a part in it, and Meyer may have allowed him to take over OC because Warinner had that desire. If it was a choice between keeping Warinner or losing him to somewhere else that had offered him OC, I can see why Meyer had kept him and allowed him to do that. 

Clarence Beeks

October 17th, 2018 at 3:03 PM ^

In society at large there is this overarching belief that because someone is great a job, they should be promoted (and are qualified to do that job).  From a talent development standpoint that often is not true.  In other words, what makes a person great at their job is often quite different from what will make them great at the next job up the chain.  This is a perfect example of that.


October 17th, 2018 at 3:35 PM ^

A ton of it is coaching.. but one needs the physical size and skill to mold it... JBB is the right size, and yet couldn't play at all last year....  Warinner is making JBB into a very decent RT, maybe will play on Sundays with this trajectory...  Runyan is and should be a guard, and Warinner has gotten him playing good too.... The most important thing is to get them to play as a unit of one conscious mind, and they seem to be doing this....   Warinner is bringing out the best in them....

Apparently at OSU he didn't recruit well, and I recall reading he was the OC for a bit, calling plays, and Meyer used him as the scapegoat when he wanted to go spread I think...... it happens... .he left Minnesota to coach us for obvious and prestige of program.. Minnesota is second tier compared to us... however, Fleck is doing a great job and they will be formidable soon...      aside, am still bummed we didn't get Faaelle...


October 17th, 2018 at 3:49 PM ^

Only place I know of to let him go is Ohio State.


And I think that’s probably because his offensive philosophy differs from Urban.


He left Notre Dame for a promotion at Ohio State. 


Unsure of why he left Minnesota to be an analyst at Michigan but I know they didn’t fire him.


October 17th, 2018 at 1:04 PM ^

My sense is that technique is much more important for O-linemen (and D-linemen, for that matter) because unlike the skill positions, there's no way to improvise your way out of a jam (actually there is, but it's called holding). But if you have the size and the strength, then technique can be coached up and taught. Playing O-line doesn't entail as much raw athleticism as the skill positions (unless you consider strength a form of raw athleticism), but it entails a lot more technique and there's a lot more to remember. 


October 17th, 2018 at 1:06 PM ^

While really hard to project out of high school since OGs and OTs often add or lose a mid-sized teenager in weight from the camp circuit to the college playing field, I'd say this is nearly all coaching.  In the last 10 recruiting cycles, Wisconsin has landed 2 top 10 OGs and 0 top ten OTs.  I know that the recruiting world doesnt frequent Pickett, WI dairy farms, but this says something.


October 17th, 2018 at 1:20 PM ^

With Wisconsin, I wonder how many OL they recruit to hit on one?  What I mean is, they have all these big, strong, rural farm kids who want to be Badgers.  Do they take a bunch as walk-ons and then maybe one on five or one in ten filters through to contribute?  Or do they somehow identify all the right guys and get production out of almost every one?