The Michigan Wolverines have roared out to a 3-0 record largely because they have been steamrolling opponents up front on both sides of the ball. The offensive line, lead by new position unit coach and co-offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore, has been critical in the development of the team’s offensive identity.
Moore is not unfamiliar with coaching the Wolverines in the trenches. His previous duties as tight ends coach saw some crossover with the linemen and the ends working together in the run game.
For Michigan, the switch made by head coach Jim Harbaugh has paid dividends from day one.
“The first thing I think is a lot of those guys know me from coaching tight ends, so they have a good feel of who I am as a person,” Moore told reporters on Wednesday in Ann Arbor. ‘I’m not gonna change. The first thing I told them is that for us to be successful as a team, it starts with us. We’ve gotta run the team in every aspect, every shape, and form. Every good team I’ve been around, it’s the offensive line that’s controlled the team. Really, that’s the first thing that I said and then let them know, I’m gonna coach you hard, but I’m gonna love you harder.
“I think that’s been the message and what I’ve tried to implement and do since I’ve taken over the position. And be me and not being anything else I love to have fun with the game, it’s a fun game. But when it’s time to work, it’s time to work. At the same time, we have to make sure (the coaches know) they’re kids, man. They’re 18-22-year-olds and they’re thinking about all types of stuff. So you have to make sure you mold them just as much as anything.”
Michigan’s offensive linemen have had a nastiness about them and a palpable attitude. You see it on the field and it shows up in the box score when they have run for over 300 yards in each game this season.
The attitude is something Moore has helped them to embrace.
“It’s been fun. It started in the spring,” Moore said. “You could kinda see it building and then in camp, you could feel the attitude and the energy and the violence that they just implemented into their game. I tried to implement it as much as I could and they just embraced it. It’s been fun to watch and it’s been fun to be a part of. It’s the guys, it’s all the hard work they’ve put in (strength coach Ben Herbert), the staff, and then just on the field, they’ve done an outstanding job. So really, kudos to them.”
Is that something that is coached or has to come from within? Moore addressed his approach to coaching his players.
“I don’t know if there’s one way to say it or talk about it,” he said. “It’s a mindset of how you talk about how to approach the game when you cross the white lines. You either got it or you don’t. You can scream until you’re blue in the face, but if a guy can’t flip the switch, then he’s probably not playing offensive line. So, I think that’s the biggest thing, just coaching the mindset of how to do it.
Moore was a former college offensive lineman himself, playing for the Oklahoma Sooners and blocking for Adrian Peterson. That nasty mentality came naturally to him.
“I had a little anger problem. It was pretty easy,” Moore said. ‘I used to play basketball and the reason I stopped playing basketball was that I fouled out a lot. Basketball ended up not being the sport. I thought I was gonna be a center in the NBA at 6-foot-4. I was sadly mistaken.”
Culture has been a big buzzword for the program this offseason, but Moore’s unit has set the tone. He said that it starts with them, and all his unit has done from there is taken the baton and ran with it.
“I think it’s the culture that we’ve built and tried to implement,” Moore said. “The guys, when they walk in the building, they’ve got life about them, they’re high energy. And the practices are super fun and the guys are enjoying them.
“I think whenever kids are enjoying something and putting their all into it, you get a great result, which is what you’re getting right now. I think the new staff has been awesome. Everybody’s like brothers. It’s a fun staff to be around and the players feed off of that. I think they can see that and feel it. So that’s all been great. I think the culture has implemented that part of it.”