Looking over my Offensive Line Notes I wanted to compare them to the equivalent of this past season, to give myself a better idea of what changed. Hence, this. There were a couple problems, though, by going back in the past, especially that the depth chart fluctuated regularly and had a lot of context in it not conducive to depth charts. So this version will be a little bit different, a little more lost in and focused on context, and more conclusion-forming.
Also, since I'm already winding the clocks back to this past year, let's travel even further back in time - to the '12's (yay disco balls!!!).
Of all the grievances that could be laid at the feet of Rich Rodriguez at the end of his tenure, there was perhaps no larger one than the state of the offensive line depth going forward. Yeah, I hear what you're saying, "but that defense was so baaaaaaaaad." It was bad. Horribly bad. Historically bad. But as evidenced by last year it wasn't completely hopeless.
There was the requisite senior leadership (Martin, Van Bergen, Woolfork), the gritty success stories (Kovacs), the malleable parts (Demens, T. Gordon), and the talented youth (Countess, Ryan, Morgan). There were pieces to work with, and once someone came along that didn't presumably spend a childhood ruining puzzles box by box, jamming wildly different colored pieces together with the butt of his palm, what you saw was a solid defensive cast coached up, rather than drowned in a flood of incompetence. This isn't a defense of Rodriguez, simply an acknowledgement that as bad as things were there was at least some semblance of depth built up.
Unlike the defense under Rodriguez, the offensive line was viewed as somewhat of a strength on the field, if not the best offensive position group outright. That isn't hard to fathom when you trot out an eventual Rimington-Pace Award winner at center and build around him with various four-star recruits.
The well, however, is set to run dry very soon. Not only were Rich Rodriguez's last two classes painfully thin when it came to offensive line recruiting, half the kids that committed aren't even around anymore.
The 2010 recruiting haul had just one offensive lineman: Christian Pace.
Read that again. One. Offensive. Lineman.
There is no position group as a whole that puts more players on the field at the same time than the offensive line and in one year Rich Rodriguez brought in just a single player.
The following year, 2011, was a bit more kind to the offensive line, but not by much. At one point Michigan had four commits, but Jake Fisher didn't stick after the coaching change and Tony Posada didn't last once he hit campus. That left just center Jack Miller and guard Chris Bryant.
Two years. Two recruiting classes. Three offensive linemen.
Next fall four scholarship seniors will take the field with two scholarship juniors behind them. Past that depth will come from a pair of redshirt freshmen and a slew of kids who will have been in Ann Arbor a scant two months by their first collegiate snap. A two deep filled with true freshmen? I've seen this movie before and I know how it ends.
Brady Hoke has too. He and his staff know the importance of offensive line play* and that has become clear in his continued recruiting efforts over the last year. Thanks to his renewed commitment to building an offensive line capable of moving mountains, Michigan should be able to weather the 2013 season (the one with just two scholarship linemen that are also upperclassmen) without too much trouble and be well built for the years after. Granted a line filled out with first and second year players isn't optimal, but hey, at least they aren't walk-ons, amirite?
Wow, it's like a time capsule.
Okay, starting offensive line (at the end of the year):
LT - Taylor Lewan
LG - Erik Magnuson
C - Graham Glasgow
RG - Kyle Kalis
RT - Michael Schofield
Now let's delve in. Depth chart:
- Taylor Lewan (12)
- Michael Schofield
- Erik Magnuson
- Ben Braden
- Graham Glasgow (8)
- Jack Miller (4)
- Joey Burzynski
- Kyle Kalis (8)
- Erik Magnuson (4)
- Joey Burzynski
- Michael Schofield (12)
- Erik Magnuson
- Ben Braden
- When Taylor Lewan was out for a half against Penn State, Michael Schofield slid over to the left tackle spot and Erik Magnuson went in at right tackle, hence why I put him where he is on the tackle depth charts.
- Yeah, and speaking of, see where Erik Magnuson is. He's on the two-deep at three locations.
- The two key players who walked on at Michigan to get a scholarship and contributed: Joey Burzynski and Graham Glasgow, who combined for 13 starts. Erik Gunderson is another that was on the three-deep the University provided before the Central Michigan game, but he scarcely played.
- Total number of players on that depth chart who are juniors and up: three. Lewan, Schofield, Burzynski.
- Graham Glasgow took over for Jack Miller at center at the start of the B1G conference schedule. Miller was recruited by RR to be a center; he was groomed by David Molk himself, but he was also a moderately regarded three-star commit. Glasgow had a better body and was able to handle the physicality at another level than Miller could.
- Against Indiana, the seventh game of the year, the previous starting guards, Kyle Kalis (who'd started 6 games at RG) and Chris Bryant (who'd taken over at LG for Glasgow) were both pulled for Erik Magnuson (RG) and Burzynski (LG). Bryant in fact had been pulled during the second half of Penn State, lasting only a game and a half. Burzynski took over, started at Indiana, and then tore his ACL in the first quarter, causing more general mayhem and an appearance by Bosch. A few weeks later, when Kalis re-entered the starting lineup vs. Iowa, Magnuson slid over from RG to the left guard spot. And that is your basic chronology.
- I don't know what happened with Kyle Kalis. They weren't happy with him and wanted him to work harder. It seemed to work, but cost three games with Kyle Bosch at the helm.
- It's bad if Chris Bryant, who had two starts but only three games played, couldn't find playing time with this competition. Nobody in the coaching staff has helped us understand with a simple, "Chris Bryant sucks. He's unmotivated, wasn't paying attention Tuesday, and gets confused about the language the center uses to call out blocking schemes. What a prick." And I really wish the coaches would elaborate more than they have and gossip a little with the media about their players. Damn coachspeak. But if I were to guess, I would point to his past struggles with weight (he had been 341 pounds at one point) as a sign of motivation problems. But that's pure speculation. At any rate, he is a former four-star who's flamed out.
- All that said, I put Chris Bryant above Kyle Bosch in the depth chart (when Bosch was clearly ahead of him by season's end) because I assume the coaching staff really, really didn't want to be playing a true freshman and gave Bryant a really close look before moving on to Bosch, and if Bryant had given them any reasonable choice in the matter, they would have stuck with him and buried Bosch in his redshirt, but it was not to be.
- It's bad when your starting left guard is also your starting center. I think ideally, particularly given Glasgow's snapping problems, the coaching staff preferred him as a guard, but had much better depth there than at center and went with the decision to coach up Glasgow to be a center over the course of the year than be stuck in Miller's physical limitations. But I think a year of Glasgow at LG would have been better than a redshirt freshman in Magnuson, who only came on toward the end of the year, or Burzynski. I also think if there's a move to criticize, it's that if Glasgow had stayed at LG, the problems from Miller being undersized would not have been as detrimental as the assembly line of inexperienced or undersized players we faced at LG. The silver lining of this is that for the pain, the players - Glasgow, Bosch, and even the freshmen watching the season unfold from the sideline - will come out better, more experienced, and more determined in their regimens.
- Kyle Bosch wouldn't even be on this depth chart if it weren't for the 3 starts. The total number of players there minus Kyle Bosch is nine - nine players making up your O-line depth chart, and some shaky ones at that. Looking ahead a year, there are nine players in the depth chart for the three positions inside; there are 14 overall.
- A sidenote; at least a few times, I had heard in criticism of the coaches that well, UCLA was starting three freshmen on the offensive line, hence, youth doesn't matter. So, to that: UCLA went 9-3 on the year behind Brent Hundley and Coach Jim Mora, and they were also 120th in FBS in penalties per game, 107th in sacks, and 112th in TFLs. They did okay in rushing, though. But we basically were UCLA on our offensive line.