Shuffling the OL

Submitted by Roy G. Biv on October 9th, 2017 at 1:55 PM

After Saturday's debacle, how does the OL get better sooner rather than later?  Is it time yet to try Ruiz at G and kick Bredeson out to RT?  Tom Brady himself would struggle given the current state of pass protection.



October 9th, 2017 at 2:32 PM ^

Yeah, totally his fault that Newsome almost lost his leg, Hamilton decided Stanford was a better fit, as did Kai Leon Herbert. We shouldn't be expecting freshmen and true sophomore guys to play as much as they are, especially at tackle. But that is our current situation. It has to get better but not sure how Harabugh has whiffed on tackles. It's too soon for that.

KC Wolve

October 9th, 2017 at 2:51 PM ^

This drives me fucking nuts. Freshman and sophomores are allowed to play and be good at football. I get it, experience helps, but I swear people around here think you have to be a RS Sr before you should get to play. It is bizarre. Can all freshmen step right in and play, of course not, but if you are an elite recruit, you should be able to get on the field. Especially with the tire fire that is the current O line.


October 9th, 2017 at 2:55 PM ^

And what elite recruits at tackle do we have at our service? The three (four) I mentioned above are not available. Should we recruit three 5* tackles per year? Very realistic. Furthermore, the leap from high school to college is probably largest on the offensive line. It is very rare for a lineman, elite or otherwise, to step in right away and be above average. 


October 9th, 2017 at 3:22 PM ^

Uhh did you see Stanford's Oline haul from 2017? 


They got the top 2 5* tackles in the whole nation. In one class. 


Did you see Georgia's Oline haul last year? Including the guy that was supposed to come to UM? 


That one class made Georgia's oline go from worst to best in the SEC East. 


So yeah, we should try that especially when playing time will be at a premium given our current situation. 


October 9th, 2017 at 3:26 PM ^

There are only so many elite college ready tackles every cycle. They, like you and I, probably grew up rooting for a certain team. They may have family ties. They may really like one staff, or one campus, or how much money they are going to collect at ______. There’s are an infinite number of factors as to why an elite recruit likes a certain school.


October 9th, 2017 at 2:57 PM ^

To be fair, we're literally playing three underclass OL from Harbaugh's first two recruiting classes and our best one that's not playing had his leg die. It's not like we just had one hole to fill for multiple classes and didn't.

On the flip side, 2016 we did strike out at OT. No denying that.

Hail Harbo

October 9th, 2017 at 4:20 PM ^

The two guards, Bredeson and Onwenu are sophomores.  Onwenu's replacement, John Runyan is a junior, Ulizio is a junior, his replacement JBB is a senior, Kugler is a RS senior, and Mason Cole is a senior.  

Michigan offensive linemen don't suffer a lack of time in the Harbaugh system, they suffer horrendously from a lack of coaching.  When your best offensive lineman, a four year starter, is searching for someone to block even as a great white shark linebacker is taking out the QB like a helpless sealion, you don't have a Jimmy and Joes problem, you have an Xs and Os problem.


October 9th, 2017 at 5:26 PM ^

Ulizio is a RS soph. I was counting that as an underclassmen. Semantics aside, the point remains. With a healthy Newsome, Harbaugh would have admirably filled up a barren OL with a 14 person class + a second class with a full recruiting cycle, and we wouldn't be having this discussion. With Newsome being injured, you're then asking for effectively four people from ~1.5 classes to pan out quickly at OL. Once again, that's a lot to ask.

Hail Harbo

October 9th, 2017 at 7:17 PM ^

First of all, you can't know what never happened.  Second, the Six Million Dollar man is being paid the big bucks to make effective players with three years in the system.

The defensive side of the ball, and special teams, they've got their shit together, and you'll not hear excuses from them.  I don't think it's asking too much that the same standards of excellence be demanded from the offense as surely as they are for the defense.  


October 9th, 2017 at 9:09 PM ^

295 just won't cut it in this day-and-age on a team that wants to run power.

Hopefully Ruiz, Filiaga and Steuber get the S&C development by next fall to turn their 315+ size into mobile strength, Onwenu can get in prime shape and Bredeson just adds more power as a 3rd yr.

Time to turn talent/potential into results by next year.


October 9th, 2017 at 2:59 PM ^

Most OL recruits out of high school do not yet have the physical size to play (well) at the college level and need a year or two of S&C to be ready.  Look around at most of the better O lines around CFB and you see very few sophmores and almost no freshmen.  Size matters here, in addition to experience.


October 10th, 2017 at 10:32 AM ^

But the bottom line was:

1. Teams that start multiple freshmen and sophomores on their offensive line tend to suck. (Red shirt sophomores included here.)

2. Teams forced to start multiple underclassmen on their offensive line tend to suck even worse. It's one thing when a young phenom beats out experienced players; it's another when there aren't any experienced players at the position to beat.

3. Young tackles don't hurt a team nearly as much as young centers and guards.

4. The "college-ready" high school offensive lineman is a myth. I went back to 2003 and there has only been one five-star lineman who started the majority of his team's games as a freshman and wound up good enough to be picked in the first two days of the draft, Andre Smith. He was also the only one to make all-conference before year 3.

The learning curve of an offensive lineman is steep. especially on the interior, and you've generally got a redshirt year of body development before you can even start climbing the curve. Freshmen and sophomores are allowed to be good at football; they usually aren't.


October 9th, 2017 at 3:42 PM ^

It's not his fault, but it's his responsibility to manage recruiting and get positive outcomes one way or another. The staff should have solid plan B guys for decommits or recruits you lose, and you get a bunch of top guys since some won't pan out or will get injured. Or if you don't quite get what you want one year, you kill it the next year like we did at WR in 2017.


Our OL recruiting for Harbaugh's tenure is underwhelming if you project his 3 full classes including 2018. I'd give the staff a pass to some extent on the on the field product, but then where is the influx of talent to address it? Even if Filiagia is great, we need depth and more OTs. Then look at the current class. Top 3.5 star guys that are like top 300 OT. No top 100 players in the entire class. That's the disconcerting part. The talent gap with other top tier programs is not shrinking this year. 


And how does the year 4 OL project? Filiaga better start (as a freshman) and play well because the alternative- a JBB-Bredeson-Ruiz-Onwenu-Ulizio line is not going to end well. 


October 9th, 2017 at 6:09 PM ^

2008: Dan O'Neill (transferred to WMU, made it to NFL), Elliott Mealer (had bad accident, still played pretty well), Ricky Barnum, Rocko Khoury, Patrick Omameh (2* who made it to the NFL).

2009: Quinton Washington (working in Nascar), Taylor Lewan (NFL), Michael Schofield (NFL).

2010: Christian Pace

That's 4 NFL players in 2 years. I posted earlier in another thread for Hoke's O-line recruting and it was terrible.


October 10th, 2017 at 10:57 AM ^

Good teams recruit offensive linemen en masse. Christian Pace could have been the greatest lineman of all time and that 2010 class would still be a disaster.

Your line is as good as your worst guy. We saw it with Lewan and we're seeing it now with Cole--one great lineman doesn't get you much because the defense can always attack somewhere else.

What was that Bill James line? "Having half a double-play combination is like having half a phone number."


October 9th, 2017 at 3:08 PM ^

I still contend that there is a noticeable difference (in a good way) when the OL relies more on ISO and power than inside zone blocking schemes. They don't suck as bad.


We saw that with Higdon on Saturday night. It looked like on the four straight runs in the second half where Higdon got 4+ yards on each there was more an emphasis on running downhill into the hole. Karan Higdon averaged over 5 yards per carry in his 12 runs with a long of only 12. So take away his longest run of the night and he still ran for 53 yards on 11 carries.


Then inexplicably they went back to the inside zone where the linemen just aren't as good, and the RBs lack the vision to pick the right hole/cutback lane. I'm really looking forward to the UFR for this week to see if what I thought I saw from section 39 on Saturday night is truly what I saw.


An effing monsoon, and Drevno abandons both the blocking scheme that works AND his most effective running back.


October 10th, 2017 at 9:53 AM ^

someone mentioned shuffling the line and I was pretty skeptical. After another dismal performance I am beginning to think it's time to try it. Ulizio has been horrible and Cole really hasn't been much better at tackle.

Maybe try moving Bredeson out to LT and put Cole back at center. Let Runyon/Kugler/Ruiz battle for the starting LG posistion. Onwenu at RG and for now start JBB at RT, but would let the freshman tackle battle for playing time and as soon as JBB blows a block I stick a freshman ini there and give them a shot.

At this point in time it can't be any worse.


October 9th, 2017 at 1:59 PM ^

Bredeson played LT a few times last year, and I have a hard time believing that he could not do better than Nolan or JBB....Runyan at LG.  Would feel more optimistic seeing this, but that's just one fan's opinion.