Ever since Michigan hired Ed Warinner as its offensive line coach in January, the refrain echoing around Schembechler Hall has been one of confidence.
All offseason, the reason behind the Wolverines? confidence in their offensive line has been a new, simplistic approach. Warinner has preached it, Harbaugh has complemented it, and the players have proclaimed their trust in it.
After months of feeding this buzzword to reporters, Warinner expanded on it on Wednesday.
?Realistically, I know there?s six things that can happen (on a play),? Warinner said. ?If I give all six of those scenarios to a player, then he won?t play very fast. So I have to simplify down what are the two most likely things to happen.?
?? If I give (a player) five or six things that could happen?you start chasing ghosts so to speak.?
Through five games, the new approach is paying off.
The line was a much criticized piece of Michigan?s disappointing five-loss season a year ago. So far this year, Warinner pins the blame for just three of the Wolverines? seven sacks allowed on his unit.
Amid a slew of defensive penalties that have received much media attention, the offensive line has just been flagged for just one holding penalty and two illegal procedures this season.
?I would challenge anyone to say who has less penalties on their offensive line in five games,? Warinner said.
That discipline entails every-down focus.
?Never let a rep go by where somebody does something that isn?t correct, either effort wise or assignment wise and let it go,? Warinner said. ?Cause the minute you let something go, you?ve just re-enforced it?s okay.
?If it?s not a championship-level play in practice or in games, it gets addressed in a positive way to help them get better and understand what the standard is.?
Warinner says that ability to be a consistent performer has been a major hurdle for young, inexperienced linemen like those he often relies on.
It starts with bringing the same mindset to weekly post-game film review sessions and flows from there ? something that he credits the line?s less experienced members for improving on as the season has progressed.
?If you?re bad at meetings,? Warinner said, ?you?re not gonna be good at practice, if you?re not good at practice, you?re not gonna be good in games.
?? If they show up not ready to work, then it?ll be an uncomfortable day. If they show up ready to do what they?re supposed to do, then it?ll be a joyous day of everybody working hard.?
Of course, being able to perform on Saturdays is what really matters.
That is not only because wins are what defines a program but also because players want to see themselves performing, no matter how much seeing the defense dominate or Shea Patterson deliver perfectly-placed passes boosts the team?s confidence.
?The most inspirational thing as a player is when you?ve improved,? Warinner said. ?You can say what you want, the scoreboard talks about the team and the program, the individual playing well and getting better is what really resonates.?
Fortunately for Michigan and its offensive line, both the scoreboard and individual performances have been in their favor over the last four weeks.
?I always say there are two things as a coach I?m responsible for, take a player where he can?t take himself and make the complicated seem simple,? Warinner said. ?And if I do those two things, I?ve done my job and we?ll be better.?