For those worried about RS Freshman OL

Submitted by Wolfman on July 17th, 2013 at 7:43 AM

There has been considerable worry voiced here about our inexperienced offensive line, and that is perfectly understandable. However, I would like all to remember the 1997 team and who was on the left side of that line and the experience they brought with them. Two fellows by the name of Backus and Hutchinson(to become 2 time AA) protected Griese's blind side that year. Both were RS freshmen.  And we are all aware that team ended up doing fairly well, with less than a mobile qb and outstanding RBs, although Howard and Floyd ran extremely hard. It was also AT's coming out party and it appears he enjoyed it being named Conference Freshman of the year.  Have no idea if this team can duplicate that type of performance, but we do know the LT spot is taken care of and the new additions will be the same type of linemen that were recruited during that period of Michigan football.  Just saying OL play is not on my list of major worries this season. I think by midseason they should be pushing the ball in the manner that could well remind us of those times. 



July 17th, 2013 at 7:54 AM ^

as long as all of the RS Freshmen OL are all future All-Pro NFL players. I'd like to direct you to the other 99 times out of 100 where those RS Freshmen OL are just dudes and it doesn't go as well


July 17th, 2013 at 8:07 AM ^

Not to pick on you too much, OP, but your post is a classic example of picking out an outlier to make an untrue assertion.  Sure, it worked for Michigan THAT YEAR, but that doesn't mean that you can use 1997 as a predictor for 2013 or any other year since of course the actual trend is for teams which are younger overall not to do as well.


July 17th, 2013 at 12:13 PM ^

It's called causation versus correlation.  Very typical in stock market to find that "due to X, Y happened" when in reality they had not much at all to do together.  i.e. Bill Clinton was just elected to his 2nd term in 1997, so a Democrat was in his 2nd term.  Therefore when a Democrat begins his 2nd term and Michigan starts very young lineman, things tend to work out. Just look at 1997 for an example. 

Now it is very likely Kalis is going to project to a high draft pick based on all the incoming hype. But who knows.  But I dont see 31 NFL draft picks on the current roster as the 97 team had. 

Further, should we go tell every team starting 3 inexperienced interior lineman to expect a national championship since well... it happened once.  It would appear impossible for every team doing that to win in the same year... 


July 17th, 2013 at 8:44 AM ^

Kalis is probably the best guard prospect at Michigan such Hutchinson.  From most reports, Braden appears to have a ton of upside.  It's not ideal to have too much youth on the O-Line but remember that Justin Boren was 2nd team all B1G as a sophomore (same age as these guys).  The OP was just trying the shine a little optimism. 


July 17th, 2013 at 1:24 PM ^

Saying he didn't arrive at a guard prospect is misleading.  It's not like he didn't play OL in high school or that he wasn't highly rated, as others have pointed out.  It just means Michigan had (perhaps mistakenly*) slotted him on the DL.

*Or maybe it wasn't a mistake -- maybe he would have been the best DL ever.  We'll never know...


July 17th, 2013 at 8:59 AM ^

All these complaints about the post and nobody mentioned the big one - Griese was a mobile quarterback for the 90s. Sure - he wasn't Frasier and Nebraska - but we ran plenty of bootlegs and rollouts. Part of that may have been the youthful line. Part of that may have been Griese's ability to throw accurately on the move. I think with a young line and Devin we'll see some similar stuff ... 2nd and 7, Gardner fakes to Fitz, rolls the pocket right, and fire over the head of the OLB to Funchess.


July 17th, 2013 at 9:00 AM ^

Yes RS frosh will be fine because all time Michigan greats were fine when they were RS frosh. Thanks for letting me know

Also all two stars will pan out well because MSU's defense

What really worries me is less their age and more the fact that nobody seemed to push the guys on our crappy interior OL last year.


July 17th, 2013 at 9:04 AM ^

From the perspective that Hoke didn't recruit a vast majority of the oline. He now has his guys with an extra year of cultivation and training. I believe with a terrific QB who can throw, the threat of a vertical passing game along with Fitz and Green on the ground, it can only get better. The oline has the right mix of talent and veteran leadership(Lewan and Schofield).

Come On Down

July 17th, 2013 at 11:03 AM ^

Gardner, Fitz, and Green's collective abilities are not going to matter much if the interior line can't pass block or create running lanes. Yes Hoke has had some time to work with them but one year usually isn't enough to get lineman where they need to be. Yes there are exceptions but the general rule is that RS Freshman are usually still too young.

We're going to have to hope that we have not one but two exceptions to the general rule, which is not the best situation to be in


July 17th, 2013 at 9:31 AM ^

I'll also bet all three members of that trio were much better when they were redshirt juniors.  Also OP, I think you misunderstand some of the concern.  I agree it is completely possible to have extremely capable RS or true freshman lineman (Lewan as an example of the latter).  However no one is doubting that a couple of our RS lineman (namely Kalis) can overachieve and be dominate forces.  The skepticism is centered around a belief that all of them can, as Seth showed in a Hokepoints, it takes until the third year for 80% of your offensive line class to be ready to go.  So if Kalis and Braden are starting, and one of them has an injury or has to miss a series, we're skeptical that a replacement of equal quality can be obtained from the remaining pool of linemen.  


July 17th, 2013 at 10:05 AM ^

Whoops, I need my damn caffiene, former rather than latter, derp.  

Yeah, Lewan graded out as servicable in my mind after his freshman year.  I'm actually kind of excepting Kalis to be the second coming of Lewan, with the personal fouls that kill drives here or there.  Physical specimen that doesn't quite know where to dial the aggression in.  

M Wolve

July 17th, 2013 at 10:09 AM ^

wasn't nearly as ready as Kalis was going into their true freshman seasons.  If Kalis makes a similar jump that Lewan did from his true freshman year to his redshirt freshman year, we've got a freshman all american at guard. 


July 17th, 2013 at 10:09 AM ^

Servicable seems totally accurate to my memory. He could stand up to the competition, but man those drive killing penalties...ugh.

He turned it around fast, though. From what I remember, he pretty much curbed the penalties by the next season. If Kalis's career arc is anything like Lewan's, I think we'd all be pretty ecstatic.


July 17th, 2013 at 10:33 AM ^

so I'm not totally over concerned about his points. He can make his, and I can make mine. I don't post for agreement, just the possibilities. And to the poster that said, Griese was not a mobile qb, I think that was what my original post contained. I may be wrong and miswrote it, and if so than I am in total agreement with you. 


July 17th, 2013 at 11:40 AM ^

I can't remember the Hokepoints referenced here, but those are nearly always some type of statistical analysis. Maybe knowing the game would help with making up grades (if he had too, like I said I don't recall) but using some type of outside metric like years as a starter, all-conference, all-America would negate that as well. I could see your point if you had posted some type of scouting report on the RS Freshman OL and explained why you thought each was ready to play, but that's not what the OP or Hokepoints does.

None of this is to say that Seth or you know more, just questioning why it matters for these purposes.


July 17th, 2013 at 9:33 AM ^

The exceptions are what we remember, but there is a reason that upperclassmen are usually starters. It takes skill and physical maturation, and usually it takes time for both to be realized.


July 17th, 2013 at 10:07 AM ^

I think we could probably find many examples of when RS freshman OL started and we didn't win the National Championship. "Just saying OL play is not on my list of major worries this season." What is on your list of major worries? 


July 17th, 2013 at 10:27 AM ^

However it plays out it will play out. Borges scares me somewhat w/extremely questionable play calling in a couple of our losses. Other than that, even with inexperience at receiver we could easily play Gallon in the slot, Funchess would be a nightmare on the outside and we've got good, albeit inexperienced TEs.  Defensive backfield would probably be my major concern. 


July 17th, 2013 at 10:41 AM ^

I seriously doubt they put Funchess on the outside. And Gallon's the closest thing to a proven downfield threat, he's not moving in to the slot.

But I do think the receiving corps is an interesting position group. Gallon, Funchess, and Dileo plus a group of intriguing but unproven young players in Darboh, Chesson, and Butt should be fun to watch develop.