Question for coaches and O-line experts (Also, Sunday Snowflake Thread)

Submitted by patrickdolan on September 22nd, 2013 at 10:38 AM

So is this what the interior of the line is trying but failing to do? It seemed to me that on a lot of that run to the left, the interior d-line was just beating attempted combo blocks by the center and left guard.….

MOD EDIT: Because of a fear of an onslaught of excessive individual posts regarding this and other topics, this is now the Sunday Snowflake Thread. - LSA


Perkis-Size Me

September 22nd, 2013 at 10:57 AM ^

I didn't even think about that, but you're right. Yeah we have some talented linemen waiting in the wings, but you're losing Schofield, a regular starter and senior, as well as arguably the best left tackle in America in Lewan. Yikes.

I began to wonder last night if Funk should start thinking about packing his bags and finding another job. Regardless of Miller and Glasgow's abilities, there's little reason for the line to perform as poorly as it has, and to give up 10 TFL against a hapless UConn team.

Nosce Te Ipsum

September 22nd, 2013 at 11:18 AM ^

The OL is young in the middle but the state they're in seems like it rests on the coaches shoulders moreso than theirs. I really liked how Beilein replaced his assistants when he thought they weren't maximizing his players abilities through their teachings. Maybe Hoke will do that if this continues because right now Funk is suspect. 

James Burrill Angell

September 22nd, 2013 at 11:42 AM ^

That's two years in a row with six different players and the interior line looks completely lost. Maybe worse this year. I know line takes the longest time to develop from when they're brought in as freshmen but they're barely serviceable. I'm having my doubts about Funk as well. Wonder who would be worthwhile to replace him?


September 22nd, 2013 at 6:52 PM ^


I don't believe it is far to throw funk under the bus. While the line doesn't look the best you can just as easily say this is on Devin and Toussaint. Devin has zero pocket prescience. He is provided a pocket a lot of the time but moves out of said pocket. This results in added pressure and gets blamed on the line. Not only this but when he feels any type of pressure instead of stepping up into the pocket, keeping his eyes down field he does a reverse spin move which causes him to lose sight of his WR and D. As a result of this the line has to hold the block for even long so he can make reads all over again. 


Fitzgerald Toussaint is to blame for many of the running failures also. He does not trust his line to establish anything for him. You saw late in the game when he began to run what was given to him. The O line was establishing an edge the majority of times. He decided to cut up into the Defense instead of just taking what the oline is creating. He needs to locate a hole and take it rather than just run up hole 1 because that’s what AL called. Many of his TFL were a result of him being single minded and trying to run exactly at the hole called. I do believe this is a result of him being out so long. His vision during the game was diminished greatly, but late in the game you could tell it was starting to come back. I hope that is a sign of things to come though because it will make everyone look better. 



September 22nd, 2013 at 3:01 PM ^

With this observation. Just re-watched the game again. Things that jumped out at me were:

-we stink at zone blocking. If we never ran another zone blocked play this year, that would not be soon enough for me. Linemen running sideways while dline and linebackers take running starts at them is a recipe for tfl's.
-fitz does a poor job of reading holes
-fitz pass blocking is weak
-funchess and dilio both are liabilities when on the field and asked to block
-miller is not good at pass blocking
-chesson should be moved to safety asap. Kid likes to hit people. ;-)


September 22nd, 2013 at 4:47 PM ^

I saw the same things. Funchess is still doing his whirling dervish thing as guys run by him. Dileo is a sore spot in an otherwise solid blocking receiving corp. I actually thought the interior guys run blocked pretty well for the most part. UConn was stacking against the run so they always had someone free to make the tackle. Fitz had 3 plays where he made bad reads, IMO. Otherwise he was much more better about running where the play was designed (sometimes to his detriment). Miller was getting stood up and chucked by the NT consistently on pass plays, he has a real problem staying low after snapping the ball. Fitz had some solid blitz pick-ups but too many bad ones as well. He seems to be closing his eyes as he dives at guys and isn't getting clean cut blocks that put guys down.


September 22nd, 2013 at 9:00 PM ^

Funk is fail, but this is on Borges for implementing a scheme that puts so much pressure on his O line to perform in order to succeed.  Al Borges expects NFL caliber offensive line play and QB decision making from college kids.  That's the fundamental problem.  His schemes can hit every few years when he happens to get lucky and have a full cupboard, but college teams are almost always refilling the O line and QBs are seldom NFL caliber. 

Without a much finer offensive line coach, Borges' overall pro style scheme just can't be counted on to work consistently at the college level the way more flexible attacks like those at Northwestern, Ohio State and Oregon can.  Ohio puts in their second string QB and boom, 6 TD passes and back to back Heisman level wins against the same level of cupcake as an Akron or UCONN.  MUST BE THE TALENT???  My ass.  It's the scheme and coaching.

Borges' scheme will fail this year.  BUT THE LINE IS YOUNG???  INEXPERIENCED??  What thenl next year when we lose two senior tackles.  The line still YOUNG?  And it will fail the year after that when we break in the decision making of a new starting QB.  THE QB IS YOUNG!!!  It'll always be something.

Simply put, Al Borges has to go at the end of this year, and he can take Funk with him.  2007 was HORROR followed by Oregon Massacre.  At least those were two damn good teams.  This year, in Hoke's THIRD YEAR, UM barely staved off back-to-back HORRORS against teams that 2007 App State and Oregon would have destroyed.  Brandon should throw a ton of money at Northwestern's offensive coordinator to come over.

The "we're 4-0 shut up" meme and the apologizing need to take off the homer blinders.  This team will be lucky to go 4-4 in the mediocre BIG unless Al Borges shocks the world and pulls a rabbit out of his ass in two weeks, and somehow evidences a magnitude leap in competence at O line and QB play.

I'm going to root for my team and prey Borges shocks me, but sadly,  my expectation level for this season, and for the next two seasons minimum, is deeply curtailed.


September 22nd, 2013 at 9:59 PM ^


I’m sorry but you cannot blame this on scheme. This type of Offense does work. You have examples of this throughout the NCAA. Borges has had great play calling thus far. It is not up to him if the team produces on the field. I have seen more variation this year and I’m still excited to see what it will be in the future. He is getting explosive player involved (Northfleet end around) and other play calls. Why would you be calling for a new Offensive coordinator when he is doing what’s asked of him. While many have forgotten what was once Michigan, this offensive is the extremely expanded version of the three yards and a cloud of dust. If anyone is to blame it’s Funk. I’m not at that level yet though, as described in my previous post. Teams such as Stanford and Alabama run this system with great success. The offensive line has not developed into that caliber yet, but you see glimpses. The problem is we have zero depth. The Dline subs in and out all game to stay fresh. You don’t see that on the Oline. This is what I’m most worried about with the line. They’re not willing to go all out on every play because you don’t have anyone waiting to come in once you need a breather.  That will come in the future with recruiting and player maturation. A dominate Oline does not establish over night, and to reach Alabama and Stanford level three years is pushing it. You only have a certain about of recruits from each class, if you thought someone was better than they turned out to be – it will set you back another year. That’s why the recruiting process is such a big part of the game.

I’m sure you’ll respond with something like MSU does it with nobodies. My response to that is the fact that MSU has to make them work. Not only that but he’s been in Lansing for a very long time. Their system is a well oiled machine. The problem though is the limited upside they have with this process. They will never be a national title team. They can be a good team, a top big ten team, but will never consistently be in the running for the championship. That is what we are striving for. 



September 22nd, 2013 at 10:05 PM ^


Also on a side note the OSU thing is dumb. You see this with every single spread team. They're built to exploit weakness. Why do you think RR and every other teams kill lesser opponents. It's not because the scheme is amazing, it's because they have better athletes. This is the same reason why when they face Alabama they get shut down. The spread is a pretty system but will not work against a just opponent. If OSU played Alabama in the championship last year they would have gotten destroyed, just like any other spread team. 


Glen Masons Hot Wife

September 22nd, 2013 at 11:58 PM ^

We have no excuse not to be able to bring in top notch assistants.  We know that DB has the money.

Say what you will about Carr, but he had the balls to cut someone loose if they weren't working out.  I hope Brady can see the big picture and make the tough calls. 

As far as I know, Urban is showing no signs of another breakdown.  Sorry boys but it looks like he will be at OSU for a while.  I don't see us outshooting OSU with fatty running the offense and whatever you call the development of our O-line.


September 22nd, 2013 at 12:25 PM ^

Obviously no way in hell I'd want a true frosh starting at C.  But do you think Kugler could seriously threaten to start next year? Or is C a position where that would be very bad if we had to play a RS freshman, regardless of how smart and talented he might be?


September 22nd, 2013 at 2:54 PM ^

What was so great about Indiana's line last year? I didn't see much of them, but it doesn't seem to have left an obvious trace on their statitstics--they didn't run the ball well (<4 ypc, Michigan's getting 4.65 so far this year), sacks per game were about the same as Michigan this year and were worse than Indiana had had the two years prior. They scored a lot of points, I suppose, but not as many as Michigan's been scoring with their supposed disaster of a line this year.

What was it you saw?


September 22nd, 2013 at 5:38 PM ^

The point wasn't that Indiana is the epitome of what we should aim for -- we recruit at a much higher level, for instance.  The point was that our old OL coach had to play two true freshmen all season last year, both of whom were 3 star talents with almost no other Big Ten offers.  Yet those two guys received post-season accolades (e.g., All Big Ten honorable mentions, etc.).  I just do not understand this mindset that it should take four or five years of Funk coaching 4 or 5 star linemen before they learn how to pull, etc.    


September 22nd, 2013 at 8:40 PM ^

You're also assuming all things equal in terms what they were asked to do.  I think UM runs a more diverse style of offense than Indiana, thus we ask our linemen to not be as specialized in both scheme and how to block those schemes.  Kind of a "jack of all trades, master of none" if you will. A west coast scheme in general is a bit more complex than the air-raid style spread, and it seems like we ask our linemen to do everything really good instead of being really great at one thing with the occasional dip into a different pool here and there. But of couse, I'm not anywhere close to an expert at this and could be completely off.

I think there is some merit to your point though.


September 22nd, 2013 at 10:48 AM ^

Run left was the best play M had besides QB draw/scramble. Run right/middle was where the line struggled. And I honestly can't make out why. Perhaps the interior aren't seasoned enough to handle D-Line slants. Seen it with many young O-Lines in the past.


September 22nd, 2013 at 10:50 AM ^

Hopefully, the OP doesn't mind, but in an effort to manage what will be a long day of threads about this and other topics most likely, this will become the Sunday Snowflake Thread. Other threads will be considered on a case-by-case basis, but the bar for uniqueness will be higher than normal today. Again, trying to keep things semi-manageable. 


September 22nd, 2013 at 10:53 AM ^

For those who watched on TV- can someone explain what the atmosphere looked like,  what our O-Line looked like?  From my seats it was hard to tell why we struggled to run the ball.  

I posted in another thread but it was at least 50/50 michigan, but we as a fanbase did not bring it- we needed the band there.

My Cool Starry Bra story: I saw buses being escorted to the stadium... and then a regular  car following them (By regular i mean white infiniti).... the driver was none other than Dave Brandon.. or someone who looked exactly like him.


September 22nd, 2013 at 11:00 AM ^

Every O-Lineman not named Taylor struggled with one thing or another (Lewan's sack has to be a combo of line slide and lack of mobility cause he didn't even look at the guy until he was full stride and the hold was a bad call IMO). Schofield, for me, has been underwhelming. I expected big things from him and he hasn't anchored that side of the line liked I'd hoped. They also struggled getting to the second level in the first half. They would get the D-Line blocked but again the 'backers were screaming into gaps.


September 22nd, 2013 at 2:05 PM ^

the talent gap bw where UM wants/needs to be and where their current roster sits is pretty obvious and also lengthy debate i guess.  re lewan on that sack though, he initially stepped right thinking he had inside responsibility (only coaches and players know what the calls were so we cant assume he was right or wrong or the communication error was his or someone elses)  and even superior OTs have trouble completely recovering and re-routing 310 lbs to catch speed rushers after incorrect steps in those situations....thats one major reason why lewan is a top 10 pick, yes hes a beast and ultra talented but he also very rarely makes footwork and technique mistakes like that.  im sure weve all known this, but it hit home even harder when i heard clowney saying after last year that sure lewan was the most talented OT he faced but he was also the smartest and most sound technically...basically lewan never beats himself.  the rest of the OL and DL for that matter definitely not as simple as 1 erred first step.  re schofield being underwhelming, he always has been....just bc he played 3 yrs does not mean hes all league caliber....he has not had anyone to push him his entire career bc everyone other than the new kids are average like schofield or below average


September 22nd, 2013 at 10:58 AM ^

if we stop trying to run the ball with 10 guys in the box.  The stupidity of trying to run the ball when the defense is ready for it and ready to blitz is beyond me.  They adjusted to it a little bit in the second half, but EVERY team has stacked the line against us and we keep trying to run in those situations, which is equivalent to repeatedly banging your head against a brick wall.