This coming Saturday, the Michigan football team will be in East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans.
As everyone who is part of this rivalry knows, the winner of this game is usually the team who runs the ball most effectively. In fact, over the past 10 seasons (MSU is 8-2), the team that rushed for the most yards in the game has won 9 of 10. (In 2015, Michigan outrushed Michigan State 62-58 but lost the game 27-23)
A good rushing attack though is not only about who is playing running back, it is about offensive line play. Throughout Michigan’s storied history, they have always seemed to have a solid offensive line but that has not been the case over the past decade or so.
But this season has been different, much in thanks to new offensive line coach, Ed Warinner. Warriner has simplified things for the Wolverines’ offensive linemen and because of that, the group as a whole has been playing extremely well.
On Wednesday, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh joined The Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket and talked about why Warriner has been able to get through to the offensive line.
“He breaks it down Barney style” what’s Barney style? “Barney is the purple dinosaur. He teaches life lessons to the kids they can understand…. Tell me like I’m in the 4th grader so I can understand this.”
Harbaugh on Warinner: "He breaks it down Barney style" what's Barney style? "Barney is the purple dinosaur. He teaches life lessons to the kids they can understand…. Tell me like i'm in the 4th grader so I can understand this" @JamieandStoney
— angelique (@chengelis) October 17, 2018
Warinner explained why his simple approach has worked so well.
“It’s how you present (information). There’s a lot of things that can happen on any play and nobody knows before the play starts what of those (things) will happen. Realistically, (say) I know there are six things that can happen. If I give all six of those scenarios to a player, he won’t play very fast,” Warinner said Wednesday. “So I have to simplify. ‘What are the two most likely things that are going to happen on this play in this situation?’ It’s A or B and react to one of those two. If he’s right 80 percent of the time, we win.
“If the offensive line grades out at 80 percent, we’re going to win. We’ll win the play, we’ll win the day.”
Warinner, who was previously the co-offensive coordinator at Ohio State, knows that things can be complicated for players and it is his job to make things simple for them.
“If I give (that player) five or six things that can happen and now he grades out at 50 percent because he’s worried about too much, then the play slows down and you start chasing ghosts,” Warinner says. “So it’s incumbent on me. ‘What are the two most important things on this play you need to do?’ It’s A, and if it’s not A, then you’re reacting to B. And anything else that happens, we’ll live with the result and play the next play.
“So there’s no heartburn. The kid doesn’t feel discomfort if something else happens, that’s on me. And that’s where you have to (identify) what’s realistic in these situations.”