Upsides and Downsides to Shuffling the OL

Submitted by stephenrjking on October 12th, 2017 at 8:08 PM

The catastrophic situation at right tackle has prompted a lot of discussion about line shuffling in the past week, and with good reason. However, the other four spots in the OL were locked in from early on in camp and to my knowledge no hints have emerged from inside that shuffling had previously been on the table.

So the question is, what's the decision matrix on this? The obvious switch would be to throw Bredeson out to right tackle and insert Runyan or Ruiz in his place. But does that harm development of the guards, or affect chemistry? Should we preserve Bredeson's development for 2018?

If we've learned anything from 10 years of mediocre-to-dreadful line play, it's that coaching and playing OL is a complex challenge that doesn't just happen. There are some obvious upsides and downsides that I can think of, but what say you? I'm especially interested in people who know a bit about coaching or playing these positions.



October 12th, 2017 at 8:21 PM ^

Not sure if it's coach speak, but the staff and players have always insisted that everyone on the line knows everyone else's job and they switch around in practice all the time. I don't think that's the entire truth, but at the same time I don't think the don't mess with chemistry, or fear of screwing up a player's development are as pressing concerns as we fans make it out to be either.

My guess is Bredeson isn't that much better on the edge than the other options where it's worth taking him from his more natural spot right now. 


October 12th, 2017 at 8:27 PM ^

I'd be more confident in them knowing other jobs if they were nailing their own, but blown assignments seem to be an issue (albeit one that saw improvement this past week) and that doesn't suggest to me that it's easy to flip guys around. 

Though I do wonder if we might need Bredeson at tackle next year.


October 13th, 2017 at 9:12 AM ^

they will stick with what they just had with JBB at right tackle who sucks on passing downs, so with that the running backs need to pay extra attention to right side which also will then tip the defense off and blitz a linebacker there too, fuck idk man right tackle is bad, cant believe M has no one to play there


October 12th, 2017 at 8:44 PM ^

I'm game. He has deliberately kept the line locked into place, so I'm assuming there's a reason (my guess is to maintain chemistry and to increase reps with a goal toward improvement). But Fearless Leader is discussing line shuffling now, so people with more smarts than I are wondering about it. I tend to give Harbaugh the benefit of the doubt, even here, but I'm interested in his thought process.


October 12th, 2017 at 10:07 PM ^

A little more self-awareness, if you please. This is a f*cking sports blog. It has these squares where people place OPINIONS. Like every other numtuckle who has ever tried to shut down a conversation--and there are many dumb ones here, all of us being human--you are welcome to move the f*ck on. Taking the time to register your displeasure is STOOPIT, and doesn't leave us with an elegant impression of you or your wherewithal. Crikey. 

Having said that, I will acknowledge that the coaches, being bright guys, have probably toyed, in practice and conceptually, with every possible combination they could come up with. OTOH, if they are going to throw out a new one it very well could be Saturday, because if there's some promising alternative they might well like to have it battle-tested before we take on Penn State a week hence.


October 12th, 2017 at 10:08 PM ^

Relax. Harbaugh is a very good coach, but to say we can never have better (or imply that we've never had better) is a bit much. Yost was great. Fritz was good/great. Bo was good/great. Harbaugh could be great, just waiting to see how it works out. After Harbaugh (hopefully not for a few decades), we will need another good/great coach. None of our previous coaches were ever beyond scrutiny and I'm sure Harbaugh doesn't shy away from it either. It goes with the territory. He will be fine, we will be fine and the team will be fine.


October 13th, 2017 at 3:04 AM ^

Nature of the beast. Win football games you are favored to win. Put an offense on the field that looks like they at least practice. Any coach in the country is going to take heat for that offensive performance.

As far as the negativity goes maybe it will get these coaches and players to be a little more urgent. Harbaugh needs to start putting his stamp on the play calling and hold his OC and coaches accountable. It is flat out time to produce on the offensive side of the ball. Curious to see how this team responds at Indiana.

Michigan's future is brighter than msu and that is fact. I see a lot of chest pounding and sticking out, but lets sit back and see how things play out. Michigan got humbled a bit, but really were there own worse enemy. There is no doubt things will come together for Michigan in the future, but there will need to be better QB play and o-line play. Does it happen this year we will see.

I do agree the brakes need to be pumped a bit as we are seeing a team  who lost a lot of people and is a year behind in recruiting. I do not believe that will be the case after this year and the team will be physically and metally tougher. One thing I know is Harbaugh is a competitor and really is not listening to anyone's negativity. Like I said lets see how the team responds.


October 13th, 2017 at 9:50 AM ^

than Carr at this point?  There is obviously a long time to go in order to fully compare college careers, but you are mostly just projecting forward if you are making that leap and there is no guarantee Harbaugh's future here will be better than the past.  It seems likely of course, but not guaranteed.  We were also likely to beat State this year and in 2015 but neither happened. 

Mr. Owl

October 12th, 2017 at 11:25 PM ^

Agree.  Last year he looked like a true freshman forced into action & spent way too much time with his head on a swivel, having already missed the guy he should have blocked.  This year he looks like someone who should have had a redshirt last year & was forced into action, spending too much time with his head on a swivel having already missed the guy he should have blocked.  Big O looks like a guy who if he lost another 30 pounds might be able to play a full game.

My guess is the younger guys aren't any better & the coaches are taking their lumps with the guys they got while they try developing guys with actual redshirt years instead of burning them when they'd look pretty much the same on the field.

Still, I can't help but think Gardner sees this line & wishes he had this much time...


October 12th, 2017 at 11:50 PM ^

...280 lbs.  Even at 265, he'd be a big step up from Ulizio & JBB who have already proven they are NOT Big 10 tackles.  Wheatley appears to be much quicker and more athletic than either of them - you'd expect from someone playing TE. 

Many years ago, Bo moved Paul Seymour from TE to Tackle and he went on to be an All American at that position.

I think Wheatley could do it as well.


October 12th, 2017 at 8:59 PM ^

OK, I'll bite. My opinion is we have too many cooks in the kitchen, particularly since two are new this season (passing coordinator and Frey). Each apparently is bringing his own ingredients to this cheesecake factory deluxe. We have 2 offensive line coaches (!), one of which expounds drive blocking and the other expounds zone blocking). I suspect the OL heads are spinning at this point. These kids ain't professionals. 

Harbaugh keeps adding offensive coaches in the hopes that each brings some additional mojo or magic and it appears to me to be doing the exact opposite. There comes a point where adding more stuff creates negatives, not positives. We have too many penalties and turnovers in spite of an elite defense. How about simplify and focus on a simple set of plays and get them right, and then do constraints off of those? Only the greatest coach in NFL history, Vince Lombardi, took that approach. How'd it turn out for him? I guess we've evolved beyond his thinking now. Worst case, punt and let the defense take over. This ain't rocket science, it's football. 


October 13th, 2017 at 12:51 AM ^

Agreed that the offense seems to lack an identty and may be trying to do too many things at once.

I'm on board with 95% of this post. However, not sure if referencing VInce Lombardi is the strongest case you can make -- the game of football has changed quite a bit in the 50 years since he was winning championships (also, not in college). Seems a bit like telling Elon Musk to solve Tesla's manufacturing problems by taking a page from Henry Ford.


October 13th, 2017 at 1:27 AM ^

Nah, football hasn't moved on that much in 50 years, honestly. Football keeps reinventing itself more than anything. Aside from those advances wrought by technology, passing innovation and nutrition, it's still a game of blocking and tackling and winning the line of scrimmage. The plays Harbaugh is running were run 50 years ago. And blocked the same. Pulling and pinning techniques are primordial in football terms. Again, it's not rocket science. Execution is lacking. Running 50 plays in mediocre fashion is far worse IMO than running 10 plays excellently. 

These kids aren't pros. They have limited practice time. Get the basics down! You've got an ass kicker defense to fall back on. Do it. Play Tressle ball. 

For further proof of execution go to D3 football and catch St. Johns, MN next game (you can watch it over the internet for free, no commercials, good camera angles). 

St. Johns runs the mid 80s Michigan offense for the most part, including the speed option out of the I- or ace formations. It's brilliant watching a team execute simple plays and blow the defense off the line of scrimmage. They remain my gold standard for judging Michigan right now

micheal honcho

October 12th, 2017 at 9:03 PM ^

Figure out what you CAN do & focus on a game plan that maximizes that.

Against MSU we should have run traps & counters all day. Let their aggressiveness be our ally & their liability. Use a rolling pocket on longer pass plays, O Korn has the legs to do that and it takes pressure off the tackles. Create dump off options for blitzes & TE seams to back off the safety's.

I agree with others who say we only need to score 20 with this D. Let's consider how blessed we are to have that luxury and build around that.


October 13th, 2017 at 1:44 AM ^

Amen, good post. And we should honestly run more sweeps. We're actually good at it. I don't know why we don't do it more often. Hey, 3 yards off a sweep is the same as 3 yards off tackle. The sweep is basically the staple play of St. Thomas (Division III). They run it until the defense literally gets sick of chasing and having to dodge blockers and tackle backs who are running downhill. That's a big reason why Lombardi loved the power sweep.

O'Korn should have been told during the game, esp. during the torrent, to read UNDERNEATH as primary. And the dude's got happy feet anyway. Make it simple and fast for him, get his confidence back. Watching it again, underneath was consistently wide open, expected with the defense MSU plays. 2 of those pics we would have gotten back if someone got in his grill over this early enough. 

Honestly, Indiana is a pivotal game for my confidence in the offensive coaching staff. I care jack squat what experience and resumes these coaches may have if they lack the common sense to play to what the offense does well at this point. Win games. Don't try to get fancy with formations since it's obvious asking these kids to shuffle assignments all the time AIN't WORKING. Geez, they look like they're on roller skates half the time whenever there's a blitz and I wish I had a dollar for every missed run block assignment. 


October 12th, 2017 at 9:46 PM ^

Brian seems optimistic that JBB can runblock. I'd love to think that we could runblock well if that's the case, but... I've had that thought a dozen times with a dozen different mediocre linemen so I'm not quite ready to believe yet. But I'll be thrilled if he can get that done.