UM O-Line vs. OSU D-Line

AJBor41's picture
April 24, 2012 at 12:09p

“Games are won in the trenches.”

Sure, we’ve all heard this saying, and that’s fine and dandy if one team has an major advantage in one trench or the other, but what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?  In other words, what can we expect when one of the most touted offensive line recruiting classes goes up against a school’s best defensive line class in years?

Immovable Object (UM Offensive Line) 

Brady Hoke has been on the warpath in his recruiting efforts for the 2013 class, and a large portion of his success has come in the form of gigantic offensive linemen.  His memorable beginning to this hogmolly restructuring came with the highly publicized recruit flip of Kyle Kalis.  Kalis, to date, is Hoke’s most highly touted offensive line recruit, ranking in at #22 overall, the 4th best lineman, and a 5* recruit in the 2012 class, according to Rivals.  Kalis is especially notable, since he had previously committed to Jim Tressel and OSU, but decided to be a Wolverine instead once the allegations hit the fan in Columbus.  In that same 2012 class, Hoke brought in a couple more line fillers, and a 4* prospect in Erik Magnuson, who ranked at #78 overall and more than slightly resembles the fatter version of Mac on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”  Two of the nation’s top linemen was only the start for Brady Hoke, as he picked up the 2013 class right where he had left off.

M*chigan’s O-line additions in next year’s group could certainly become a force to be reckoned with.  This group, according to ESPN recruiting rankings, includes the #1, #4, and #5 overall offensive guards in the country (David Dawson, Kyle Bosch, and Patrick Kugler, respectively), as well as the class’s #9 and #10 offensive tackles in Logan Tuley-Tillman and Chris Fox.  This enormous group averages in at just under 6’5″ and 295 lbs each.  Not bad for kids that are currently juniors in high school and still have time and motivation to bulk up more before they hit Ann Arbor’s campus.  Each member of this group is ranked by ESPN and Rivals as a 4* recruit, and each was highly sought after by many of the nation’s top schools.  In fact, Chris Fox and Logan Tuley-Tillman also had scholarship offers from Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes.

This recruitment of 7 intimidating offensive linemen (not counting any 3* recruits at the position) in less than two full years shows that either Brady Hoke has some confidence issues and is unhappy with his own weight, thus surrounding himself with bigger people to feel better about his image, or more likely, that he plans on getting M*chigan back to the days of beating your opponent at the line of scrimmage and daring them to stop your run game first.  At first glance, this future UM O-line certainly seems like an immovable object, but…

Unstoppable Force (OSU Defensive Line) 

Urban Meyer, although he has the reputation for being a purely offensive-minded coach, has shown that he has a knack for loading up his defense with nearly unblockable linemen, highly skilled linebackers, and lightning-fast backs.  Ohio State fans still shiver when thinking back to his 2006 team at Florida that absolutely manhandled a formerly powerful OSU offense to the tune of 82 total yards (35 passing on 4/14, and 47 rushing), 5 sacks, and 1 of 9 on third down conversion attempts.

Urban, much like Hoke, arrived on the recruiting scene with a bang.  Unlike Brady Hoke, however, who has built a large portion of his future teams around his offensive line, Urban went to work on his future defense.  Out of Urban’s completed 2012 class and still in progress 2013 group, 10 of his top 11 recruits (by ESPN’s grading system) are on the defensive side of the ball.  Urban’s top prospects are both 5* recruits, according to Rivals, in defensive ends Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington.  This pair, along with Se’Von Pittman, are ranked by Rivals as the #2, #7, and #15 best defensive ends in the 2012 class.  Spence, is also the #4 overall prospect according to ESPN.  This threesome was not alone on the defensive line, as Meyer also flipped the highly touted Tommy Schutt from Penn State to Ohio State.  Schutt, a big time run stopper (6’3″ and 300 lbs) at defensive tackle is ranked as the #6 prospect in 2012 at his position by Rivals.  

Similar again to Hoke, Meyer didn’t take a slower approach to his powerful future defensive line, but instead dove full force into making sure that it would be locked and loaded in the upcoming years with more recruits in the 2013 class.  He first got Billy Price to commit, who is listed as the #11 overall defensive tackle in his graduating year.  On top of that, the Buckeyes just added another top level player in Joey Bosa, from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  Bosa is a freakish talent who stands 6’6″ tall, weighs in at roughly 260 lbs, and can do a standing back flip on cue.  Oh, and he can also chase down a mobile QB and nearly decapitate a running back going around the end.  Bosa is the nation’s #2 defensive end prospect, and should compete for playing time with the other talents on the OSU line.

Go back and look at Urban Meyer’s national championship runs in 2006 and 2008, and you’ll come back talking about Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Aaron Hernandez, and the infamous spread offense that Meyer takes with him everywhere he goes.  However, something that is often overlooked is the quality of his defenses.  In those two seasons, 28 games in total, Meyer’s squads allowed more than 21 points just twice, and a great deal of their success began with fast, strong, athletic defensive linemen who were constantly in the face of the opposing quarterbacks.   

Isaac Asimov answered the immovable object vs. unstoppable force conundrum by saying that, quite simply, both forces could not exist in the same world.  Well, that doesn't happen to help at the moment, since both forces appear to be doing well and residing just 3 hours away from each other.  Something eventually has to give between UM's incoming offensive linemen and OSU's incoming defensive linemen...

As a Buckeye fan, I certainly hope that another classic football cliché holds true, and defense wins us a championship!

Comments Show All Comments

phxbuck's picture

Man, I can't wait for @rational to make an awesome comment regarding your post, nice write up though!

hail2victors9's picture

Very nice, AJBOR41.  Looking forward to the battles ahead of us.

Those who stay will be CHAMPIONS!

~Bo Schembechler

bassplayer7770's picture

Like Phx said, nice write up!  We'll most certainly see a battle in the trenches, and I'm looking forward to it!

On a side note, it will be nice if we bring in a top notch O Line class too.  *looks in Ethan Pocic's direction*

BrewstersMillions's picture

This was some work! Good piece buddy. Its going to be awesome. I'm sure OSU will have a fine O Line when Urban gets his prints on it and Hoke won't avoid the D Line (he has a few on their way) but its pretty clear we are going to be treated to some real wars between the Buckeye D Line and Wolverine O line. Their ability to move people around and create holes, OSU's ability to get up field and attack in its going to be fun.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

To win, they (scUM) would need to score touchdowns.   Several of them.  (Cause you can bet your @ss we're gonna lite up the scoreboard)  I just can't see Denard arm punting their way past our D, even with "hippo-human-hybrids" in front of him.   


*i dont take credit for human hippo hybrid.  just love the way it reads.

edit*  ...or any other qb they scavenge up.


I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

biggy84's picture

The truth though is that o-linemen rarely rotate into a game, D-linemen have a rotation. You can have fifty 5 star tackles, but only two are going to play significant minutes. The d-linemen can rotate in multiple times in a single possession. Can those o-linemen handle a heavy rotation?

FLBuckeye's picture

That's the key to all of this, we'll be subbing in fresh bodies constantly, O lineman don't usually rotate as a means to maintain cohesiveness.

tampa buckeye's picture

Easy to sum up.  Scum is trying to keep up with Ohio State.  Ohio State is trying to keep up with the SEC.  Advantage Ohio State.

AJBor41's picture

Thanks guys.  You brought up some good points about the other side of the coin as well, so here's a snapshot of the reverse: OSU O-Line vs. UM D-Line.

OSU in the 2012/2013 classes (Rivals):

  • 4* Joey O'Connor, Kyle Dodson, Taylor Decker, Evan Lisle

UM in the 2012/2013 classes (Rivals):

  • 5* Ondre Pipkins (DT)
  • 4* Tom Strobel (DE), Taco Charlton (DE)

There are also a few 3* recruits mixed in on both sides, and I think James Laurinaitis would argue that they're relevant too.

tampa buckeye's picture

Steroids do make you relevant I suppose.  

AJBor41's picture

What?!  It's perfectly normal for your neck to begin at your ears and go straight down into your shoulders

Irricoir's picture

Cite? Where did you read this?

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

Scott's picture

Nicely done, AJ.

Class of 2008

ToothBuck's picture

AJBOR41, Cheers to the Isaac Asimov reference!!!

Poison nuts's picture

Nice work AJ - great piece of writing! I hope to see more of these types of posts from 11W members in the near future.

I'm very interested in finding out what these two lines will do against each & like you I'm hoping our defense wins this battle. I'm obviously biased - but I like our chances with the guys we're going to have. Given the choice I would take our D line recruits over their O line recruits any day of the week...

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

AJBor41's picture

It's probably also worth noting that in 2009-2011, UM only brought in a total of 2 4* (ESPN Top 150) offensive line recruits.

OSU, in that same period, brought in 5 4* D-linemen and 3 ESPN Top 150 DLs (assuming you stretch and say Michael Bennett still counts despite his OL to DL switch). 


Also, forgot to link the Erik Magnuson = Fat Mac from It's Always Sunny until now...

mclovin's picture

I disagree that this is going to be a battle the next couple years.  We are 9-1 in the past 10 years against these clowns.  We lost one game because of an historical epic total program fallout.  One game.  And even that game was on the road and could have easily been won if our inexperienced QB had been able to throw a catchable deep ball (which would have resulted in several touchdowns).  Again, one game.  To follow that up we hired a proven winner in coach Urban Meyer, who put together a top notch recruiting class that will go along with the previous highly ranked recruiting classes that Tressel put together.  Classes that dominated Michigan.

Hoke, on the other hand, has had one good recruiting class and is putting together another, which potentially will raise the level of their play, but that is assuming a lot of things, the biggest one being that Hoke is a good coach, which is something we don't know yet -- especially given his previous losing record, his ranking in UM's coaching search, and the ease of schedule for UM last year.  We don't know whether he evaluates talent well, especially with respect to the system that he is going to instill, and we don't know how well his system even works.  Really, all we know about Hoke is that he is a native Ohioan that has a deepseated hatred for Ohio State to the point that he has unoriginally stolen THE most famous Buckeye's refusal to call Ohio State by name.  The fact that he has to steal from Ohio State to make fun of Ohio State speaks volumes about his lack of originality and potentially how smart the guy is, because he clearly is not sharp enough to realize that no one at Ohio State cares if you call us Ohio.    

But with respect to Coach Meyer, we know he has a history of winning and we can all see that he is out on the recruiting trail lighting the world on fire with the best from Ohio and from the rest of the country.  So we know there is not going to be a drop off, probably more like a ramping up of the play and performance at OSU.  There is obviously going to be a learning curve for this team getting in the groove with this new system, but I think we can compensate for that with respect to Michigan for two reasons: one, we have more talent (Tressel's classes + Urban's one class) > (RR's classes + Hoke's classess); two, we play Michigan the last game of the year, which means we have a whole season to adjust.   Wait, one more: we play them at home.  I predict another 10 years of Wolverine tears. 

AJBor41's picture

Well, we're not 9-1 against them in the last 10 years no matter which way you try to slice it up, unless you're simply not counting our loss last year.  Other than that, I like your optimism, regardless of how blindly it takes away from Hoke and gives to OSU. 

There are a couple flaws in the logic:

*You're essentially saying that because Tressel's recruits in 2009-2011 were better than RichRod's, we'll win for 10 more years?  I guess this holds up if every Urban class is better than every Hoke class.

*We play them on the last game of the year, but they also play us on the last game of the year.  If we're becoming more confident in our offensive scheme in the previous games, what are they doing?

Just playing devil's advocate on a couple of points... but don't get me wrong, 10 years of Wolverine tears does sound delicious

mclovin's picture

My bad, 9-1 is Tressel's record.  Counting last year, two games.  Doesn't really change the argument, which isn't, for that matter, taking anything away from Hoke.  He is not proven, Urban is.  There is nothing blind about that.   Urban has a BCS school pedigree.  Hoke had a losing record in the MAC and was one over 500 in the MWC.  He had one good year in the Big Ten with someone else's players and an easy schedule, to boot.  Those are facts.   Another fact is that his recruiting classes are fairly good.  We have no clue what that means, though, because we don't know what he'll do with them.  Meyer has proven to recruit well and recruit for his system.  One possible unknown: how will the Meyer offense work in the Big Ten? I am speculating it will turn out fine. 

Regarding the flaws you pointed out:

 - The argument is the next three years it's going to be Tressel recruits with a sprinkle of Urban recruits against Rich Rod and Hoke recruits.  Previously Tressel recruits won this battle at a very high percentage.  I don't think I'm going out on a limb in speculating that the trend will continue, especially given the way in which the personnel will fit into Urban's scheme -- namely, Braxton being able to showcase his smorgasboard of talents along with a lights-out defense.  Beyond that, yes I am saying that Urban will out recruit Hoke.  That is just a guess.

-  The reason I mentioned the learning curve was to address a potential reason for Michigan having the upper hand.  They don't have a new offense to learn, so it's not relevant to them like it is for us.  You could argue that even though Ohio State has more talent than Michigan, they are at a disadvantage next year because they are learning a new system, which I think will have merit if you plug in Michigan State or some other good team that we will run into early in the season.  I think by the end of the season that will no longer be the case. We will have things much more cemented into place in terms of everyone's role and responsibility, and thus we will destroy them.  




AJBor41's picture

I think we're at the "agree to disagree" mark on several of these points, but since we're both pulling for OSU, I'm all for your dominance theory.  Bring on the Wolverine tears!

mclovin's picture

Time will tell.

hail2victors9's picture

I'm not going to go through point by point and explain where you're wrong on so many levels, but I will say this:  You can't discount the 2011 loss to Michigan unless you do the same for the previous 3 years when you beat Michigan.  3-9, 5-7, 7-6 was our final records...3 of our worst teams, historically and statistically.  Secondly, you can't pull the whole "well we would've won if Braxton would have hit Posey on those deep passes."  You can say, "We would've scored more points," but unless it's the last play of the game, it's not indictive of anything.  Gameplans change when you're down 1, down 8, or down 15.  Even if you refuse to see this point, OSU's final drive would've ended with 1:35 left in the game.  There's no reason to think that Denard couldn't drive back down for a GW fieldgoal in that time.

Those who stay will be CHAMPIONS!

~Bo Schembechler

biggy84's picture

Love the comment Mclovin! I couldn't agree more with you!

beserkr29's picture

There are always a great many reasons for a loss, or win, in any game, so I'll try to be kind of objective and coldly analytical, despite my obvious bias.  The stocking up on OL for Michigan and DL for Ohio State WILL in fact set up a huge battle for the years to come.  Line play is what made the Buckeyes and Wolverines into the national brands they are.  Woody made Ohio State into a powerhouse through meatgrinding football, always focused on running the other team into submission.  Bo did much the same thing, which is only natural considering who his former boss was.  Fast forward to the present, the emphasis on building up lines on both sides of the ball that can really destroy opponents is only natural.  Hoke is a good coach.  Personally, I don't think he falls into the realm of great yet, but he is GOOD.  He is not going to force square pegs into round holes like RR did.  Hoke has already adapted his offense to what Denard does well: run like the wind and hit short passes.  That is NOT what the Buckeyes will see in the future.  But it IS what the Wolverines need now in order to be successful.  That's what differentiates Hoke from RR.  He is willing to adapt to win, while recruiting to eventually turn the Wolverines into something similar to the team they were under Carr:  talented, punishing, pro-style.  That is what the future is.  Now, as for the line battles, I think it is almost an impossible task to say that one or the other will be dominant. 

Yes, it is easier to rotate DL players in and out while the offense huddles up.  Doing so is what made the SEC into the power it is as a conference.  The overall depth on the defensive line is staggering in the top tier.  For the OL, it is a matter of what they are asked to do.  Personally, based only on my own thoughts, I think that Hoke is going to make the Wolverines into more of a power running team in the pro mold, much like the ones we were used to under Tress and Carr.  To me, that explains the emphasis on recruiting quality OL players the past two classes.  This shift makes me think that, in all honesty, the issue isn't going to be which line is best, though it's very important.  To me, the issue is going to become which backfield wins out?  For OSU, we're seeing a strong emphasis on fast, athletic, mean linebackers, as well as ball-hawking secondary players.  Michigan, as we saw with the recruitment of Bri'onte Dunn, is going after bruising running backs and playmaking WRs.  Michigan is moving towards a style similar to Wisconsin's (though I think it will be more nuanced and complex than Wisky's), while the Buckeyes are becoming more spread oriented on D.  Can Michigan take advantage of the new Buckeye policy of playing off receivers in order to create more turnovers?  Can Michigan utilize constraint plays enough to prevent the (seemingly) improved team speed on the Ohio State defense from overwhelming plays before they can fully develop?  Will Ohio State be able to sufficiently penetrate and disrupt Michigan's OL in order to prevent what happened in Madison in 2011?  Will Hoke be unpredictable enough to prevent Ohio State, and other B1G teams, from cheating up to stop the running plays that will serve as the foundation for everything Michigan does on offense?  I remain unconvinced that Michigan will be able to satisfactorily answer these questions in its favor, though I believe Michigan will be a top 8 team year in and year out.  The other side of this debate will be even more interesting, though I won't go into that here, since all I've done is ramble.  Anyway, those are my thoughts.  I'm sure others disagree.  Fire at will.

AJBor41's picture

In response to your comment I'll say... yep, I agree.  The answer to this OL/DL matchup will most likely be decided by the other positions on the field.

BUCKfutter's picture

the closest things i can think of as a comparison here are 1) OSU vs Miami 2003, and 2) OSU vs UF 2007...and we all know how both of those turned out.  the d-line dominating a supposedly great o-line was the key to both games for the winning team. i see the same thing happening with OSU vs TTUN the next few years.

the kids are playing their tail off, and the coaches are screwing it up! - JLS