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Posted on Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 7:30 a.m.

Michigan football team shuffles linemen in hopes of solving dearth of depth

By Pete Bigelow


Michigan sophomore Will Campbell (73) takes a breather during August practice, when he was still playing defensive line. The Wolverines are testing what essentially is an intra-squad lineman trade, moving Campbell to offense and Quinton Washington to defense.

Lon Horwedel |

No quick fixes exist, Rich Rodriguez has said, when it comes to stocking a college football roster. So when confronting a lack of depth on the Michigan football team’s defense, the third-year coach got creative.

He essentially completed an intra-squad trade during the off week.

A need for defensive tackles arose after Rodriguez moved Will Campbell to the offensive line last week. Now, offensive lineman Quinton Washington heads from offense to defense.

Rodriguez made the switches during off-week practices. Although he cautioned they’re not yet permanent, he anticipated the two players would stick with the changes for the foreseeable future.

At 6-foot-5, 333 pounds, Campbell immediately became the team’s biggest offensive lineman. “He actually approached us about trying it over there,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a pretty smart football player. His head will be spinning for a while, but I think he’ll be a natural at guard.”

Stephen Schilling, the Wolverines’ most experienced guard and an Outland Trophy candidate, is excited about welcoming Campbell to the position.

“I always thought he liked to finish us in practice instead of making tackles,” Schilling said. “It was exciting to see him play. He could be a really good offensive lineman.”

Craig Roh had a similar instinct about Washington, a 6-4, 315-pound redshirt freshman.

“I thought that Quinton should be playing defense about a month ago,” Roh said. “He’s got that aggressive manner that’s really good for defense. To a certain extent, he’s learning from scratch, and it’s going to take him a while to really become comfortable there.”

Pete Bigelow covers the Michigan football team for He can be reached at (734) 623-2551, via email at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 8:22 a.m.

Steve, Whats wrong with making comparisons with tohse teams? Unless they play each otehr there is not way of knowing who would win. The only logical comparison you can make without playing the games is to look at their record and who they have played. Michigan has a lose to #5 and #18. They are 5-2. Flordia is 4-3 and will probably be 4-4 after this week. Michigan should be 6-2 after this week. If you say I cannot analyze then why do I bring facts and you bring nothing. I could care less about RR. If you have read anything of what I have posted you would know this. I bring facts and look at the big picture. You bring insults - nothing more.


Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 8:04 a.m.

Yelmon, Kids transfer. I could throw a lot of numbers but I do not have the time to do so right now. With a quick google search, I see OSU has lost 3 players during the summer this year. Northern Alabama has 7 transfers from Florida State alone on their team. If a player is not starting or not happy, then they go. It happens. Sean, Thanks for the research and time you spent in looking up that information. Shows me where your heart is at. With the exception of Auburn, I would say that Michigan is doing better than the other teams on your list. Auburn 8-0 (Imagine their record without Cam Newton) Tenn 2-5 Vandy 2-5 Flordia 4-3 Michigan 5-2 GoBlue, While I would say that it is unquestionable that we are not on the level of Bama, I would argue that we could fair well against Oklahoma. The difference I see between Bama and Michigan (and Oklahoma for that matter) is that Bama starts an experianced quarterback. In the interest of fairness to you, I will say that both teams have a fair superiour defense.


Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 9:40 p.m.

PU MSU That's my point, Oklahoma and Alabama are two of the best programs in the country playing with kids that have about the same experience as Michigan. We're not even close to their level of performance. How you can say that proves your point is beyond me. IMO, this says that Stoops and Saban can coach and recruit circles around RichRod. I don't know about you, but that's certainly not what I'm looking for in a coach at Michigan.

Sean T.

Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 8:34 p.m.

Actually, Air Force and Florida have the most true freshmen playing in the NCAA. (17) Now this including special teams as well but it is a large number either way. I got this off of two sites the other day. I tried to reply to PU MSU on another post because he asked. When I find more info I'll post it. All of these teams have true freshmen starting on both sides of the ball, Tennessee has 3 on the o-line and Auburn has 6 starting between the offense and the defense. Article on and, I'll have to dig around more later. Auburn 15 Tennessee 16 Vandy 13 Florida 17


Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 4:27 p.m.

PUMSU, I never mentioned Mallett. But you brought him up. Go back and read articles with quotes from Mallett. Mallett had conversations with RR, and he said it appeared he would not fit in RR's system. Mallett said nothing but good things, did not bad mouth RR... just said it was apparent his talents would not fit in RR's system. How is that forming the system around the players RR had? It's not. That's the story RR supporters keep trying to preach. Now... I'm referring to players that I believe RR recruited and left. Vladimir Emilian (Safety), Justin Turner (Defensive Back), Austin White (Running Back), Sam McGuffie (Running Back), Taylor Hill (Linebacker) Demar Dorsey (Defensive Back), Marcus Witherspoon (Linebacker) were denied admission. Cissoko kicked off the team. These are just some of the easily googled names that left recently. I don't guarantee they all our RR recruits, but I believe they are. There are a lot (7) of defensive players there. The attrition there cannot help the defense. Of course the team is thin. They can't handle losing players to injuries (a normal part of the game) because the players either aren't getting in or are quitting for some reason after getting there. That is entirely on the coach.


Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 2:30 p.m.

Yel, I have never said MSU was not a good team. Sure, some of these other Michigan fans have said so but I have not. I have no problem saying Michigan State was the better team this year. RR publically announced his intent to form the offense around the players he had, yet Mallet left on his own terms. That being said, RR was hired for his system. The sooner to put into place the better. Why change an offense with proven success to have a so-so season, a few more wins, and have the players of the future learning a "temporary" system. That makes no sence. Like it or not, RR was hired because of his system. All Michigan fans should have expected what has happened to happen. Look at the history of every program RR has ever coached at. Jim Harbaugh does not want to coach at Michigan. He will be coaching on the Sundays soon. Admissions told RR that Dorsey was ok. Admissions changed their mind. Thats a fact.


Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 1:52 p.m.

You are comparing Michigan to two of the best coaches and programs in college football. The mere fact you HAVE TO use these two programs as a comparison to answer my question in proof enough that Michigan is doing well with the youth they bring to the table. Plain and simple.


Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 1:49 p.m.

P U MSU... it's funny that you now indicate that a loss is to the #5 team in the country. Hmmmm... that is MSU! I find it ironic that many posters on this board consider MSU an average team that has to use tricks and a soft schedule. But you are using MSU as an argument to bolster your support for RR. Now... I don't know how you can't point a finger towards RR and his staff for transfers or admission problems? RR is recruiting these kids to play at his school. He should know whether they fit his system or not. He should know before signing them if they have an academic back ground that will be accepted at UM. And lastly, how is Jim Harbaugh able to change around a Stanford program that was broke, with a harder academic standard, and a no name brand. Yet this great coach you keep crediting, is unable to get not great... but just decent defensive playsers at UM. UM doesn't need a top ten defense. The need a top 50-70 defense, and they could win. But in three years, he can't even do that. That is all on the coach. And lastly, enough of the "talent was pretty thin" line. Basically the only team RR can beat in the Big Ten is Indiana. Really? UM's talent was less then every other Big Ten team but Indiana's? If you truly believe that, I have this really cool bridge near Mackinac I want to sell you... RR didn't try to use the talent he had, but rather tried to force his system in no matter what, and was willing to lose to do so. A COACH would have COACHED the players he had, and adapted to the new system as he brought in the type of players he liked. RR didn't do that, plain and simple.


Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 1:46 p.m.

First off, it doesn't blow my theory to hell. In fact it proves that a good coach would have this team coached up and ready to play. To prove your point, Michigan would have to be in the same league as Alabama and Oklahoma. They most definitely are not. Second, my numbers do include Lewan (Freshmen) at OT and Demens (SO) at LB. I've also included Gordon (FR) at the hybrid. My numbers are correct. Michigan Offense: SR-2, JR-5, SO-3, FR-1 Michigan Defense: SR-3, JR-2, SO-4, FR-2 Oklahoma Offense: SR-3, JR-4, SO-3, FR-1 Oklahoma Defense: SR-3, JR-3, SO-4, FR-1 Alabama Offense: SR-3, JR-4, SO-3, FR-1 Alabama Defense: SR-1, JR-6, SO-4, FR-0 So, on offense, Michigan and Alabama and Oklahoma have the exact same number of upper classmen (7) starting on the team, with identical numbers of SO and FR. On Defense, Oklahoma has 1 more upper classmen than Michigan, and Alabama has 2 more. Thats pretty close to being the same level of experience for all 3 teams. If you put Michigan on the field against either one of those 2 teams this weekend, we'd end up embarrassed, just like PSU was earlier this year. The idea that it's not possible to be successful with a young team is ridiculous. Its an excuse, plain and simple.


Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 1:18 p.m.

Also your numbers for Michigan do not include the Freshman left tackle who is now starting and the Freshman Linebacker who is now starting. Not trying to be basis towards RR, Just trying to open your eyes as to what he is working with. Personally I am not really even a fan of RR. I wanted Brian Kelley. What's done is done though and the team is doing exactly as I project.


Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 12:16 p.m.

Also, Nick Saben and Bob Stoops are both great coaches. By the stats that you have just thrown out, you have placed RR in the same spot as those two coaches and shot your theory all to hell.


Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 12:11 p.m.

Michigan is younger than both. They have one more win than Michigan. Michigan has losses to #5 and #18. Bama has losses to #22. Oklahoma has a loss to #9 (who will get beat this week by Nebraska). Thanks for the info but neither team is younger.


Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 11:53 a.m.

RichRod's best class, at least of kids that actually showed up, was his first class, the one that people want to disavow RichRod from. I find that funny. Next, transfers of kids he recruited, under his watch, is his fault. The willingness to not hold this man accountable for what goes on in the program has reached heights that I've never seen in any sports program, HS, college, pro's; Football, Basketball, Baseball, etc. When does this guy get held accountable for what happens on his watch??? Also, you asked for any program that was as young and more successful. I'll give you two. Oklahoma and Alabama. Michigan's avg years of their starter is 2.7 on O and 2.5 on D. Oklahoma averages 2.8 on O and 2.7 on D. Alabama averages 2.8 on O and 2.7 on D. Rosters based up info from


Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 11:10 a.m.

GoBlue, I won't sit here and blame LC for anything. I have yet to do that in any post I've ever made. I will say that the team was left pretty thin. Not many can disagree. I will not blame the recruiting though. The Thiness is a result of a few things. Lack of depth, transfers, players inability to stay out of trouble, admission issues, and injuries. Cissiko and Dorsey were both Top 5 DB's in the country. And yes they were defensive players recruiting under RR...OMG. Wolfolk, the leader of the defensive backfield, out for the year. Many, many transfers. I can't sit back and blame this on RR. Players go to programs that fit their skill set. When there is a change in coaches there are many transfers. On top of all of this, over half of the top tier players are committed at the end of their junior season in high school. While this is RR's 3 year coaching, he has only had 2 true years of recruiting. Give it time. If after next year we are in the same position as we are now, I will join you that there needs to be a change. As of right now, time is the only answer.


Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 10:48 a.m.

I'll ask again, "How did we get into this sad state of affairs vis a vis an inexperienced defense?". If the current coach had attempted at all in his first 2 recruiting classes to address the defense rather than recruiting 20 wide outs, maybe he wouldn't find himself in this position. We'd at least have Jr. and So's stocking the defense. The fact is, RichRod ignored that side of the game until this past recruiting season and now he's stuck playing all these freshmen. You want to blame the lack of Sr. on LC, fine, I think it's ridiculous, but go ahead. Everything after that falls to one guy and one guy only, RichRod.


Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 8:39 a.m.

Please show me a younger team with a better record. I've asked the question over and over. but the RR haters have failed to answer time and time again. The fact of the matter is, the problems have stemed from inexperiance. 11/43 players on the defensive roster are juniors or seniors. We graduate 4 relevant seniors. My god people open your eyes. What JV high school team would win the High School State Championship.


Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 7:51 a.m.

Frankly, if Michigan wins the next three and their bowl game, RR finishes 9-4, same as LC in his last year. Difference is LC's last team was loaded with Juniors and Seniors with NFL talent and the present team? Not nearly as much. People need to quit looking back and start looking forward. Wins in the next 3 games will help bring us back to national relevance and build some momentum going into the last two games against likely top 10 teams (Wiscy and OSU).


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 5:34 p.m.

Michigan 7011, I heard the issue addressed quite elloquently at the Appalachian State debacle. One man screamed at another fan who was upset with Mr. Carr's coaching or lack there of. The words he screamed were "hey I thought that you were supposed to be a Michigan Fan"! A gentleman sitting close to me calmly stated "we are fans.... not addicts". Amen! If we don't like what we see on the field, court, diamond, etc. we will address the issue. There are plenty of folks who have been less than impressed by the performance or lack there off of the Football program over the last three years. Go Blue beat PSU!


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 5:29 p.m.

The solution is a new head football coach Jim Harbaugh would be great There is your solution your welcome


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 4:01 p.m.

Believe me, I am no fan of what is going on under the RR watch, but you can try to stay with the ship and be positive or you can slam everything that the man does. I truly believe we posters have no clue as to what is really going on within that program and we really have no clue what RR is all about. There hasn't been an objective piece written about the guy since he got here. Some of that he brings on himself but to constantly bash and complain doesn't help anyone or anything. Be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Lorain Steelmen

Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 3:27 p.m.

I like the switch. Campbell just didn't exhibit the aggression needed to play on the Dline. Just a very LARGE, nice kid. Hopefully Washington will help there, and can play with an 'attitude'!


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 2:30 p.m.

Yelmonian... Sadly, he is now "seen" as the face of Michigan football. And even if he starts winning, football at Michigan will be forever tainted under his watch. It's not too late to purge the program of his presence. The sooner the better. It's nothing personal... The facts dictate. And they are quite clear... Michigan Football 1879-2007 - Winning, bowl games, probation free. Michigan Rich Rodriguez Football - 2008-Present - Losing, no bowls, Probation.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 2 p.m.

Kubrick, Like the new picture. Out of curiousity... because your opinion, although I don't always agree, typically has a basis of reason... what is your take on the statement "RR is the program"?

Sean T.

Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 1:58 p.m.

Well said, Kubrick. How a true Michigan Fan can miss that fact is beyond me. There are a lot of posters whom know little of college football!


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 1:52 p.m.

ThoseWhoStayUofM... You're kidding with this, right? "News flash, in case you didn't notice, most coaches don't pay much attention to the defense... Lloyd Carr certainly didn't. Lloyd Carr was just as offensively minded as RR is" Lloyd Carr was the defensive coordinator at Michigan for 8 years before he became head coach. Carr had a ball control philosophy which made him very conservative on offense. While constantly stressing a strong defense. His weakness was his stubbornness to change with the times on both sides of the ball. But to say that he stressed offense while ignoring defense couldn't be further from the truth.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 1:26 p.m.

I hope this move really works out well. I think both players will see the field a lot faster this way. A lot of these linemen have played both positions in H.S., so it isn't like they are clueless on what to do. Obviously, learning the college-level schemes on their new side of the ball will take some effort. Again, it sounds like good moves for both players.

Sean T.

Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 1:16 p.m.

Michigan7011, Seriously? I'm attacking the program because I said the kid will finally get attention from a coach that professes he doesn't deal with the defense? How does a coach become a entire program? Like I've said before, too many control freaks with the need to attack others that don't share their humongous man-crush on RR!


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 12:16 p.m.

Michigan7011, That is where you and I differ in opinion. RR is the current coach. The fans, the players present and past, the tradition, the coaches present and past, the history, the cheerleaders, the band, etc ARE THE PROGRAM! If RR is the program, then all of the history that is continually spewed out at myself and Spartan fans is moot. None of that matters, because RR has tossed it all away to usher in this "modern offense". RR is the coach of the team currently. Sooner or later... like all coaches on the team, he will become part of the history. But no sir... RR IS NOT THE PROGRAM.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 12:12 p.m.

Thosewhostay, Enough already with the Lloyd Carr is at fault. Who hired Greg Robinson... who is now in his second year at UM? Lloyd Carr didn't, RR did. Oh by the way, go into the archives of, and you'll find that last year Robinson didn't use the "West Virginia" terminology that RR's staff used. So gee... Robinson thought it might be wise to change his terminology this year so the rest of the staff understood. And since it has been pointed out to me numerous times on this site, evidently Robinson has a super bowl ring for being a DC on a championship team. Isn't that enough experience? And gee... hasn't there been attrition on the defensive side of the ball due to RR's recruits either quitting or not being academically eligble? I don't have a problem with UM fans being fans even in the worst of times, and defending their program. As a MSU fan and alum, I have had to do it for years. At least I had enough courage to say, gee... I like John L Smith's personality and him as a person, but he's not getting it done at MSU, so they need to get a different coach. The continual blame of Carr, who had an exceptional record (approximately won 75% of his games, went to bowl games every year, and won a National Championship) is really getting annoying. I hated having MSU play a Carr coached team, but by God, I respected the man because he was what I wanted at MSU. And you continually disparage a Coach that brought a National Championship team to UM, to defend a coach that has brought probation to a UM team was considered to be of the highest integrity. Enough with the Carr bashing already.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 12:07 p.m.

yelmonian: You are splitting hairs. RR is the program.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

News flash, in case you didn't notice, most coaches don't pay much attention to the defense... Lloyd Carr certainly didn't. Lloyd Carr was just as offensively minded as RR is... except Rich Rod has a better offense. The difference between Lloyd Carr and Rich Rod is luck. Let me explain. Lloyd Carr was lucky to have defensive coordinators and defensive recruits that were experienced and fairly well coached. Rich Rod, on the other hand, was left with Obi Ezeh and zero DBs worth a dime. Woolfolk is decent, but he went down due to injury. Think about how bad it would be if Rich Rod hadn't found Kovacs? Lloyd Carr set Rich Rod up for failure. Next year, this defense will be better (more experienced). RR is responsible for the offense and recruiting. He hasn't failed in those regards so the hate should stop emediately. The defensive coordinator is responsible for the defense. Greg Robinson has two super bowl rings as a defensive coordinator. Unless he took a stupid pill the day he walked on Michigan's campus, the defensive faults are a result of inexperience at key positions... and Obi Ezeh... I don't like him.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 11:45 a.m.

Very smart moves Rodriguez. Well done sir. Go Blue!


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 11:24 a.m.

Michigan7011, I didn't see SeanT's comment as a shot against Michigan. Saw it as a shot against RR. In case you haven't noticed, it doesn't appear that RR pays attention to the defense.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 10:53 a.m.

sean t: Why is it that every comment you make has a backhanded jab at the program. Either be a fan and stick it out or go root for someone else. Nobody likes what is going on but be a fan not a constant downer.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 10:27 a.m.

Both players will be back in their respective positions (Cambell DT/Washington OLine) by the start of next season. Both will see significant playing time next year under the new regime as well.

Sean T.

Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 8:42 a.m.

I understand why Will Campbell wants to go to offense, probably the only shot a playing he'll get. (and he won't be ignored by RR.) Hopefully, it works out!


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 7:18 a.m.

Might want to fix that last line in the picture caption. Could confuse people. I think this move is smart, and since Will requested it himself I hope he does well and has a good career at UM.