Questions about the offensive line

Submitted by blue in dc on February 21st, 2014 at 8:51 AM
Questions about the offensive line

Obviously there has been a great deal written about the offensive line and it is probably the biggest question mark on this team. While I feel like I've read a great deal about the offensive line in general, there doesn't seem to have been as much critique of individual players. For instance:

Glasgow: We saw him both at guard and as center, is he better at one position than the other? Clearly he had his problems with botched snaps in the middle of the season, but my sense is that by the end of the season, he had settled in at center. Did others who know more about the offensive line see improvement or did he still have less obvious flaws in his QB exchanges?

Kalis: were his challenges more with technique, knowing what he was supposed to do, speed getting off the ball? Something else?

Magnuson: seemed to have at least two challenges. First: strength (was he 285 or 295 last year, he is listed both ways in various rosters and depth charts. Second: he was learning a new position (and then had to deal with switching from the right to left side. Given the coaches willingness to switch him around so much, it seems they have a great deal of confidence in his ability to pick things up. Do people who know more about the offensive line think his challenges were more in picking up a new position, strength, something else?

Bosch: my sense is that he was playing because the coaches felt he had good technique and strength, but he just hadn't picked up enough of the offense yet.

Miller: were his challeges in the strength department, or is there something else holding him back?

I think that with either Glasgow or Kugler at center, we will be the strongest we've been since Molk left. I hope Kugler is able to step up, because then I think with Glasgow moving to guard, we'd be alright in two positions. The Magnuson injury is worrisome, because I think the biggest thing he needed was more time in the weight room. I still think he'll be the starting left tackle, he just won't be as improved as we'd hoped.

I think Bosch is going to step up and take the other guard spot and that the biggest question mark going into fall will be right tackle. For those who know more about the offensive line, how much of a question mark is it that Braden wasn't able to move inside? Obviously many others have done it, so it seems like a big red flag to me. For that reason, I think we'll see Dawson at right tackle.

I am more optimistic than many and I think that while last year's line had it's challenges with youth, Borges playcalling and constantly mucking with the line greatly exacerbated those problems. I think that we'll see more improvement than many are expecting.

Thanks for everyone who looked past my formatting fiasco and provided some of the player speciic insights I was hoping for.



February 21st, 2014 at 9:03 AM ^

Ah ok, formatting is much better now...but still, I just tried to read it and that's a lot of words and sentences for 9am in the morning, and I'm only halfway through my first cup of coffee.  I'm sure what you wrote is very insightful, but my previous post still applies.


February 21st, 2014 at 9:29 AM ^

I'll try to tackle the OL. It's cliche but all they can do is keep getting bigger, stronger, and work on that technique. We're still very young and there's still plenty inexperience. There's just too many question marks in my opinion to say anything definitive about the OL.

Obviously Hoke didn't feel like Funk was a issue so he'll continue to coach these guys up, and hopefully Nuss takes it in baby steps as far as the complexity of what they'll be asked to do. I remember discussion last season on how Borges might have been having them do to much of what they couldn't handle or just wasn't ready for.

blue in dc

February 21st, 2014 at 9:59 AM ^

That wa actually what I was tryong to get at in an obviously to long winded way. Clearly the line as a whole was a disaster last year, but since we did see a fair amount of at least some of the pkayers who are competing for positions this year, are there any insights to be gleaned?

Glasgow would be my number one example. Clearly he struggled with the switch to center, but my sense is, that by the end of the year he had signifigcantly improved. Since there are no real stats to check that against and no UFRs for a number of later games, I was hoping that some of the folks on the forum with more ability to evaluate individual offensive linemen might have some insights.

Obviously that is either not an interesting question/topic, my formatting fiasco de-railed the conversation or there were other flaws beyond the formatting in my post.


February 21st, 2014 at 1:56 PM ^

From what I've read, it seems like some of the struggles last year was based on the OL not getting the correct checks at the line.

I agree that his snapping improved, but I'm not sure if his ability to make the correct checks improved.


February 21st, 2014 at 9:37 AM ^

It seems to me that because we just changed offensive coordinators, there is a lot of uncertainty about who may end up where, so part of me wants to reserve predictions on specific personnel configurations. That being said, I am very intrigued by what we may see in spring practices as well as the Spring Game, although the strength of the conclusion one might draw from that isn't so, well, strong. 

One thing that is pretty undeniable, and we saw this in a thread just the other day, is that advanced metrics show that there is very little to do but improve from last year's performance. The OP mentions playcalling, but it was deeper than that - I think the comments about the lack of identity in the fall were more telling. We had a lot of talent up front on offense trying to run plays from several different philosophies and in several different personnel configurations, if you will, and performance will suffer from a lack of consistency.

I will agree with that last sentence from the OP though. For many of these guys, if they can establish a consistent set of base plays and then work with players to see where they fit best and maintain that consistently, I dare say we could see a better performance that we might expect right now. 

Avon Barksdale

February 21st, 2014 at 9:50 AM ^

A great deal of people don't like my star gazing, but a guy like Glasgow should never have to start at Michigan. I am not saying he's not a good player and/or productive. It's just incredible to me that we cannot put a lineup out there like this:

LT - Mags - 3rd year

LG - Bars - 3rd year

C - Miller - 4th year

RG - Kalis - 3rd year

RT - Braden - 3rd year

The fact that we have to patch together an offensive line with walk-ons and freshmen is pretty embarrassing. It's easily the difference between bad teams, average teams, and great teams. Until the kids that are recruited heavily to come play for Michigan start panning out, it's going to be long year after long year.

Avon Barksdale

February 21st, 2014 at 12:11 PM ^

They should have been given a chance, but they should not have won their battle is my argument - if players we recruit would get the job done. This has been discussed so many times, but Kovacs: yes he was decent. But after watching him get smoked by South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi State, Ohio State (i.e any team that had a decent offense), I'm not ready to say he was "good."

Great leader, great intangibles, not athletically gifted. That's usually what walk-ons are and why they are good for a program, but walkons starting is not what you want if you want a National Championship any time soon.

Yes, I know. Brian Griese (walk on yada yada). That was also 1993 when he walked on. The game was different back then. He also turned offers down from Kentucky, Purdue, and a host of smaller schools in the south just to come to Michigan.

That's where the program was. People were turning down Big Ten and SEC scholarship offers to come to Michigan and walk on. In its essense, that is one argument that defines why we have 35 losses in the last six seasons.


February 21st, 2014 at 12:33 PM ^

This assumes every player from the 2012 class pans out ASAP.  How many teams bring in 4 lineman and have all 4 ready to start prior to their third season (i.e. two years later)? I'm going with few to none, even with an OC that keeps to one philosophy.


February 21st, 2014 at 4:13 PM ^

Graham Glasgow is our best offensive lineman next year.  He will start at either center or left guard depending on what Kugler looks like, he is WORLDS better than Miller right now and I would take Graham over a former DT prospect.


February 21st, 2014 at 10:04 AM ^

Kugler hasn't even played a snap yet, and you think we'll already be comparable to the one of the best O-lineman I've ever seen play at this university.

I love your optimism, but wasn't last year a giant wake-up call that a highly rated recruit doesn't necessarily come right in and play like Jake Long.


February 21st, 2014 at 1:14 PM ^

I don't mean this as a knock against Molk but Michigans had some spectacular offensive linemen over the years. To say Molk was one of the greatest ever makes me think you started watching Michigan football around 2003. He was a very good center but best o lineman ever at a university that had Jon Runyan, David Bass, John Janson, Steve hutchinson, Steve Everitt, Jumbo elliot, Rod payne, jake long and about a hundred other great offensive lineman is a bit of a stretch

Jack Daniels

February 21st, 2014 at 10:04 AM ^

To be honest, even with all this stuff about the youth on the line and how you can't succeed with all young guys, I fully expect OSU to have a better OL than us this year.

Even though they lost EVERYONE, they still have their OL coach. And he is good.


February 21st, 2014 at 10:29 AM ^

Did you actually watch any of the plays?  Glasgow was by far our best interior OL.  He was a great find, he's going to be a good player for two more years.  He was so much better than Kalis, Mags, and Bosch that I'm stunned anyone would make this argument.

Re. Miller mentioned above in other posts - he's a great back-up center option.  But he frankly doesn't have the size/length to stand up to elite competition.  Glasgow was better.  It seems clear that the competition in the Fall last year was only open because Glasgow has the unfortunate inclination to jack his snaps every so often. 


February 21st, 2014 at 10:38 AM ^

Last year's experience will help. Even for the five (five!) guys who redshirted.

Also, new leadership will emerge from among the group who went through the crucible last year. That will help, a lot. This is not a judgment on Lewan -- I'm not sure anyone else could have done much better, and clearly he made an effort. He'll be a better NFL player for it.


February 21st, 2014 at 10:28 AM ^

Glasgow: I'd like to see him stick at Center. As you said, the only real issue he had was snapping the ball, which he cleanded up. Maybe he had issues with line calls, but I don't think a RS FR coming in in Kugler will do much better. By all accounts, he seems like an intelligent guy and the trial by fire will be invaluable going into next year. My suspicion is a lot of the problems on OL last year started because of the mid season Center change and the lack of chemistry that resulted, and kind of spiraled out of control from there. I'd like to see them roll through both spring and fall camps with some continuity at this position.

Kalis: Some information came out after the season that seemed to suggest his issues were injury related. He looked ok in the first few games until Penn State, and after getting back on the field towards the end of the season, he looked better again, so I think there's something to that. I think he'll come out this fall a little closer to living up to his recruiting hype

Magnuson: Yes he's switching positions again, but it's to his natural position. He seemed to handle the switch last year pretty well, so I'm not that worried. The worry is his new position is SO important to keeping Gardner alive. He's also replacing 5th year Sr Lewan, so there will obviously be a step down. I think he'll be serviceable but give up frustrating sacks in key situations when the defense throws something a little different at him.

Bosch: Was a true freshman, played like a true freshman for the most part. I think his strength and athleticism carried him as the mental aspect seemed to be overwhelming for him. It kind of seemed like he actually faded a little as his time went on. I wonder if it was because he lost some confidence. Like Magnuson, I expect him to be serviceable but still make frustrating mistakes and get beat by better DL. I think he'll be a good one in the end though.

Miller: I hate to say this, but I don't think Miller will see the field. If all the hype about Kugler is true, he'll probably pass Miller on the depth chart based on athleticism alone.

RT: This one is the one that worries me the most. It's a total unknown right now. Hopefully Braden truly didn't play last year because he just isn't a guard, and not because he isn't good. With how bad our options at guard last year were, I find that hard to believe. If it's not Braden, things get a little desperate... we'd be relying on guys that, when we last saw them as recruits, were very very raw.

Space Coyote

February 21st, 2014 at 10:45 AM ^

Simply because we don't always know the assignments, what they're being taught, communication, etc. But I'll give it a go.

Glasgow: I think he improved at OC as the year went on, but I think he's a more natural OG. I actually think he can be a pretty good OG but is limited at OC. Some of the snaps were obviously bad, and I'm not sure he has the athletic make-up to both snap and get into defenders from the OC spot. Remember, though, that he was a walk-on that started football late. Developmentally, he was probably closer to a 2nd year player, or at best a 2nd year player that enrolled early. As a walk-on, he probably at least spent his first semester trying to get passed the tackling dummy phase, and he was behind in technique as well. Optimally I think he'd be an OG, but I think he sticks at OC next year and can be an OC/OG if Kugler steps up.

Kalis: His problems were by far the mental aspect. He still has some technique things to work out, especially footwork, but if you had to nail down a key issue it was the mental aspect of the game. I think everyone around the program, including Kalis himself, would admit as much.

Magnuson: He's a natural OT. He's lanky, not very squaty, and had trouble leveraging at the point of attack. That said, he was the best OG at getting into his assignment at least. That meant fewer busts, but meant that there wasn't a whole lot more than that. Still struggled a bit with stunts and twists on the inside, likely due to not receiving a ton of reps earlier at OG, but he's a much better fit on the outside. He was a patch-up for the OL. I'm pretty high about his mental ability to pick up the game, and that's a big reason why he'll make a natural blindside OT someday if he continues to improve and add weight.

Bosch: I think it was a bit of everything for him. As a true FR, he had his share of mental and technique mistakes. Just too young still, though did admiral in filling in briefly for a true FR.

Miller: Again, especially with OC heavily being judged on things we can't know (like communication), it's tough to say. But he struggled a lot away from doubles and having to hold up at the point of attack. He still had some leverage issues and didn't look very strong yet, and wasn't quick enough to get great position to make up for some of his limitations. I still think he can be a good depth guy, and if he can continue to add weight he still may have a future on the OL. But centers need to be either very athletic or very good at leveraging with half a body off of a snap, and Miller struggled there.


February 21st, 2014 at 11:07 AM ^

I'm curious to know what writing tool you're using to produce "passed" for past and "admiral" for admirably. Voice recognition software? I've always admired your ability to write very long and yet concise and readable comments, seemingly very quickly. While most of that can no doubt be attributed to a sharp mind, what tools do you use?

Space Coyote

February 21st, 2014 at 11:14 AM ^

Which, when used on MGoBlog, lacks the red squiggly line that I so readily depend on when typing quickly. I sometimes also use the green squiggly line for grammar mistakes, but that also seems to be missing. With my lack of proof-reading and lack of tools I tend to rely on in most cases, I sometimes fail to adequately display my writing capabilities within the English language. I'll be the first to admit that.

Also, if I used voice recognition software, you probably wouldn't be able to make sense of my ramblings. By combining my Michigan accent with a voice that mumbles when not being used loudly, voice recognition wouldn't be considered a asset.