2017 Season Countdown: #7 Patrick Kugler

2017 Season Countdown: #7 Patrick Kugler


August 25, 2017

Patrick Kugler (#57, image via Land of 10)

Name: Patrick Kugler
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 303 lbs.
High school: Wexford (PA) North Allegheny
Position: Center
Class: Fifth year senior
Jersey number: #57
Last year: I ranked Kugler #33 and said he would be the backup center. He started one game and played in five total.
TTB Rating: 83

Kugler came in with a lot of promise as a highly rated player and All-American. He was also the son of an NFL offensive line coach, who is now an FBS head coach at UTSA. It was thought that he would be ready to play center for Michigan by year two, maybe three. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case, and Michigan has had to rejigger its line several times to figure out the center spot, moving both Graham Glasgow and Mason Cole to center at times. Meanwhile, Kugler barely saw the field early in his career, and he started one game at left guard last season before ultimately being outplayed by freshman Ben Bredeson.

This year Kugler has finally appeared to seize the center position that we thought he would grab three years ago. Cole, who started at center in 2016 after playing left tackle the previous two years, is back at left tackle. Freshman Cesar Ruiz is battling at center and left guard, and he would probably be inserted if something were to happen to Kugler. One would think that Kugler would be ready to make the line calls as a fifth year senior, and the hope is that he can avoid mental mistakes while being able to hold up physically. In the spring, Ruiz looked the part physically, but he was a split second slow on recognizing blitzes. I would be very nervous if Michigan entrusted the center spot to a true freshman, even though Ruiz might be one of the best centers to come out of high school in a while.

Prediction: Starting center

29 comments

  1. Comments: 635
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Aug 25, 2017 at 6:50 AM

    I wish that “seize” actually applied to Kugler and the center position, but he is really a default starter, like pretty much everyone else on the Oline. When all is said and done at the end of fall camp, we’re basically going to be running out the 5 or 6 guys who have been here the longest, and hoping for the best.

    • Comments: 2083
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 25, 2017 at 7:07 AM

      I feel like I could have written this comment for you.

      • Comments: 635
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Aug 25, 2017 at 8:02 AM

        My opinion on the status of our Oline is not a secret. We have very little real competition for starting spots, except maybe at RT, and even that is between guys who are marginal starters at best.

        Kugler probably belongs about where you have him ranked, because we really NEED him to play well to have serious sucess this year, but the truth is that we don’t have much but finger crossing at center this year.

      • Comments: 568
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Aug 25, 2017 at 9:30 AM

        Haha

    • Comments: 289
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Aug 25, 2017 at 6:01 PM

      Without a quality center then things break down quickly. Florida is going to let everyone know exactly what we have for the first half of the year on offense.

  2. JC
    Comments: 121
    Joined: 8/17/2015
    JC
    Aug 25, 2017 at 8:57 AM

    Usually I can see the argument in ranking a player differently than I have them ranked. I wouldn’t argue for it, but I get it.

    Ranking Kugler in front of Bredeson, I don’t get it. Bredeson was one of the 5 best last year, and he was starting as a true freshman, in front of RS Jr Kulger. They’ve both had an off season. I imagine 2nd year in a system and 2nd year in college is going to be a much bigger learning experience for someone than 3rd year in a system, 4th year in college.

    • Comments: 2083
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 25, 2017 at 9:06 AM

      The difference is that Bredeson is backed up by Ruiz, Spanellis, and Jon Runyan, Jr. Runyan is perhaps starter-quality, Spanellis has improved, and Ruiz is Ruiz except he wouldn’t have to make the line calls at guard.

      Kugler is the center. If he goes down, the only guy really prepared to take his spot is Ruiz – who is a true freshman.

      The team would be hurt more if Kugler got injured; therefore, I have Kugler ranked higher.

      • JC
        Comments: 121
        Joined: 8/17/2015
        JC
        Aug 25, 2017 at 10:32 AM

        I understand that. With this staff, I believe they’ll find a way to fit in the best 5 OL. We needed a center last year, and Cole moved over from LT. That is not ideal, but the shuffling happened.

        You present an interesting question as I don’t know who the top 5 OL are. I can think of the top two, but I have no idea what the pecking order would be after that.

        What would happen if Kulger goes down? If Ruiz truly is the 6th best lineman, he’s going in, and there’s no shuffling. But if someone else is the 6th best lineman, what shuffling would occur?

        I can’t wait until we have some some solid OL depth in a year or two.

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 25, 2017 at 12:05 PM

          Sure to all that but inquiring minds want to know — how are you handling the rumor that Peters is now 4th string in the minds of the coaching staff?

          • JC
            Comments: 121
            Joined: 8/17/2015
            JC
            Aug 25, 2017 at 2:45 PM

            That’s not super relevant to a Patrick Kugler thread, but how are you going to get at least a third of the comments in this thread unless going a little off topic?

            It’s nice to hear McCaffrey is doing good things by comparison. It’s nice to hear O’Korn is becoming the QB he thought he could be, and hopefully improve upon the QB he was at Houston his freshman year. It’s a bummer to hear Peters can’t get command of the huddle/offense, if that’s really the case, I don’t think anyone really knows. Based on what I’ve seen, I still think he’s the most physically talented of the QBs on the roster, and I wish he could pull it all together.

            Lanknows, do you have inside information from the Michigan athletic department? Have you ever coached football? Have you ever played football?

            • Comments: 3181
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Aug 25, 2017 at 3:02 PM

              Sometimes, not often.
              No.
              Yes, but not at college level.
              You?

              I’m asking you about Peters because you had some very strong opinions that he would start over Speight and you were quite vocal about it.

              If Peters is more talented than McCaffrey it would be a quite a lack of development for him to be behind after just a few weeks with McCaffrey on campus.

              For the record, I am not worried. I agree with the optimistic take our QB situation is in good hands. I like Peters. I like McCaffrey. I like Speight. I just think people read way too much into the Spring, and that’s often the case, as is favorable assessments of backup QBs who haven’t played yet.

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 25, 2017 at 12:09 PM

          We’re not going to have depth in 2 years if the coaching staff doesn’t start recruiting more players or more consistently developing the talent they have.

          The Top 6 question of depth is a gray area. It does depend on the willingness of staff to shuffle people around. Last year they put in JBB when Newsome went down but he clearly wasn’t the #6 OL. Then they tried Kugler at OG and that didn’t work either. Finally they settled on Bredeson – who had been working at LT in camp. So while the general principle of top 6 is fine there are contextual considerations. I’m not sure the coaches are thinking through the hypotheticals too deeply to be honest. They have enough to worry about just fielding the top 5 now.

  3. Comments: 568
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Aug 25, 2017 at 10:07 AM

    OL concerns me. I think Kugler is likely Jack Miller 2014, and he’s our vet in that group

  4. Comments: 3181
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 25, 2017 at 12:04 PM

    Has such an unproven senior ever been ranked in the top 10 of the countdown before? 8 months ago Kugler couldn’t start on a bad OL. I guess we can hope…

    I’m with both JE on the rank. I think Bredeson is a better player and more important player. Not buying the backup argument since Cole can play OC and positions are still very fluid. Nobody knows yet if Ruiz is ahead of Runyan or somebody else — maybe not even the coaches. I had Bredeson 8 and Kugler 13. I think the Jack Miller comp is a good one — but it’s also optimistic. Miller stepped up and became a decent starter. That is still just a hope with Kugler. He could also fail and get replaced.

    I can’t really disagree with WCB’s negativity on the sad state of affairs. I think Cole is legit and would start on any OL in the Big Ten. I think Bredeson would probably start on most as well. It’s true that nobody is pushing them but that’s not really the problem. The telling thing is the 5th and 6th guys. For us that’s a RS Jr who failed in a starting role last year and a RS So who didn’t see the field on a pretty bad unit and has been flipped outside out of need. It ain’t pretty.

    There are a lot of people who want to hand-wave the OL problems away. It’s something we are powerless to control and OL coaching is very far from something most fans can talk about knowledgeably. Brian Cook is one of the foremost advocates of this perspective and he’s been doing every year. He’s been wrong every time. Let’s hope this year the blind squirrel finds the nut.

    • Comments: 3181
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 25, 2017 at 12:11 PM

      To clarify, I don’t really disagree with the rank. Kugler is a critical player (probably). I could make a case for any of the OL in the top 10.

      I’m just pointing out that even if Kugler is the 3rd best OLmen that doesn’t guarantee he is even an average Big Ten starter.

    • Comments: 2083
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 25, 2017 at 12:28 PM

      “Nobody knows yet if Ruiz is ahead of Runyan or somebody else — maybe not even the coaches.”

      Right…nobody knows anything about what will happen in 2017. That’s why I’m counting down, and there are things called “predictions” at the end.

      Anyway, maybe Cole could move back to center, but that leaves a gaping hole at left tackle. And that gaping hole is big enough that the coaches flipped Cole back out to tackle, in order to insert Kugler at center. We have answers to who fills in at guard (Ruiz, Runyan, Spanellis, maybe someone else) if something happens to Bredeson. Who fills in for Cole if he gets hurt or has to play center? Ummmm…

      *crickets*

      Exactly my point. Bredeson might be better, but that doesn’t mean he’s more important to the success of the team.

      • Comments: 3181
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Aug 25, 2017 at 1:59 PM

        Who replaces Cole? probably the same guys.

        Maybe Runyan or JBB (RT backup). Does it matter much if Runyan is coming in at LT or LG? Maybe, maybe not.

        Maybe Bredeson slides over and Runyan or Ruiz play LG instead. Does it matter much if Ruiz is playing LG or OC? Maybe, maybe not.

        Maybe it’s another true freshman. Does it matter much if it’s Filiaga, Honingford, or Ruiz? Maybe – (at least here we have some tangible reasons to think Ruiz is ahead but OT should theoretically be simpler at least).

        To all the above — Who knows? But, more importantly, who cares (in the context of rankings).

        None of these guys are ‘answers’ anymore than another guy is. They are all 100% unproven and inexperienced. Parsing value based on the deployment of unproven backups is an extra level of conjecture that is deeper on the BS side of the speculation continuum and further away from the reasonable and defensible shred-of-evidence-based speculation side.

        Bredeson is more important because he is better. He’s a near sure thing (all conference honorable mention as a freshman), and a proven starter. Kugler is neither.

        What position a potential backup has to slide into isn’t enough to overcome that.

        • Comments: 2083
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Aug 25, 2017 at 2:28 PM

          I’d rather plug in a backup LG than a backup LT. Tackles are frequently out on an island. Guards can be helped out by the guys around them without requiring you to adjust your formations and pass protections, while tackles need to be helped out by attaching a tight end or chipping with a running back.

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 25, 2017 at 2:46 PM

          FWIW Runyan has made comments about how the game has slowed down for him at OT (as opposed to OG).

          In a vacuum I agree. For example the coaches clearly preferred playing Bredeson and Braden at OG than OT at different times.

          In this case I think it’s too hard to make the distinction right now with things so very unsettled especially on the 2nd unit.

          I think if Kugler falters there’s a pretty decent chance that it’s Runyan or JBB who slide into the lineup rather than Ruiz. That could mean Bredeson to LT, Cole to OC, and Runyan or Ruiz to LG.

          I think if Kugler gets hurt in the middle of the game then Ruiz comes in. The short-term reaction maybe different than the long-term reaction. This is something like what we saw with JBB coming in for Newsome last year. They’ll shuffle if they have for long-run, but in the moment you see a 1-for-1 positional backup slide in.

          Similar case last year with Peppers out. If we had more time to prepare for the sudden injury, I think you might have seen Hill, Thomas, Kinnel, or Hudson move down to viper for that game. In the moment they went with the guy who had practiced at the position more – Metellus.

    • Comments: 568
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Aug 25, 2017 at 3:57 PM

      Yes, the Miller comparison is optimistic… But I’m not sure that’s a good thing

  5. Comments: 70
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    coachernie
    Aug 25, 2017 at 10:26 PM

    The OL has been one big crap sandwich for too long now…I’ sick and tired of it

    • Comments: 289
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Aug 26, 2017 at 3:06 AM

      It’s absolutely amazing how many busts over the last decade. That supposed great OL class under Hoke has only yielded Kugler if I remember correctly. Then you factor in Kalis. It seems like UM always has 1-2 good OL out of 5 on any given year. I think Funk was a problem but he couldn’t have been the entire problem since Drevno hasn’t done that much with what he has inherited.

      I think Kugler is going to do a respectable job but the right tackle position scares me this year with JBB. Hopefully Runyan or Ulizio can develop.

      • Comments: 904
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        Roanman
        Aug 26, 2017 at 8:36 AM

        Hindsight is always 20/20. I had two conversations over the summer with PSL guys who “knew” Dawson wasn’t gonna make it at Michigan because he struggled at the high school level when the kid he was on wanted to “hit back”.

        I don’t know how Hoke could have ever heard this in scouting the kid because ain’t nobody in the city of Detroit ever gonna screw up a football kid’s chance at a scholarship.

        I was told that Kalis drove coaches crazy because he would have really good, even dominant days at practice, especially in helmet to helmet drills where all he had to do was maul. But, as we all know …..

        Then there’s Chris Fox who nobody had any doubts about as an offensive line prospect, but suffered from just the worst job ever done putting on a pair of knees.

        For fun throw in Kyle Bosch and the whispers surrounding that bizarre little episode.

        Maddening.

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 26, 2017 at 10:41 AM

          That’s college football though. At one point I looked at about a decade’s worth of UM OL recruits (3, 4, and 5 stars – mostly under Carr) and found that about 50% panned out into starters. That still seems about right.

          Some years are better than others and great development might bump you up to 60% but over the long run you’re gonna lose a big chunk of recruits to all these things.

          Think about what that means for recruiting numbers if you’d like to have 5 quality veterans starters backed by 5 young up-and-comers destined to get there.

          OR we could just keep doing what we’re doing and expect different results. Right now we just throw the kids who are ready from high school in there and hope they last 4 years. Only 2 to 3 guys a year are legit starters. The rest is cross-your-fingers.

          Up to the staff…

        • Comments: 289
          Joined: 9/13/2015
          michymich
          Aug 26, 2017 at 2:45 PM

          Remove all the uncontrollable variables and the work ethic or motivation aspects. What makes being a great OL so difficult is that in high school you can have a flaw and it doesn’t really show up on game film. You don’t have to go up against exceptional quick DL on a regular basis or a guy who can bull rush you. More importantly, colleges don’t necessarily get to see you pull if you are a guard because the plays are limited. It’s high school.

          So take a guy like Kalis. Coming out of high school you see his unbelievable size. It must be so appealing to coaches. You see his brute strength and is he really going up against quick and strong DL like he will see at OSU or FSU on a regular basis? In fact, opposing teams figure out a way to get their strongest player on the weakest guy on the OL so Kalis isn’t always going to go against the best player on the opposing team. So basically Kalis gets to college and surprise he isn’t quite as dominant as in high school because now his lack of foot speed or his inability to pull is exposed and opponents can play to his weakness.

          Bottom line is that coaches need to scout properly and look for a guy who can develop strength but see the foundation for movement (pulling and pass protection) which is why you see guys taken like Steuber and Honnigford and other smaller guys who can be bulked up but in theory can move.

          Not trying to blame everything on a guy like Kalis but he is a perfect example of taking recruit rankings with a grain of salt unless you are talking about the elite in most cases.

          • Comments: 3181
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Aug 27, 2017 at 3:08 PM

            Rivals ranked Kalis a 5-star and the #22 player in the country. He had offers from Alabama, Notre Dame, OSU, etc. Doesn’t get that much more elite.

      • Comments: 3181
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Aug 26, 2017 at 10:48 AM

        amazing…or pretty much normal

        Michigan has been hurt by 3 coaching transitions in 6 years – that’s never going to help – but a lot of this is just the nature of college football. Even the guys everyone is sure about (Kugler, Kalis) fail sometimes.

  6. Comments: 289
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Aug 26, 2017 at 3:08 PM

    Here is my own view on the OL. Most people are fixated on the Left Tackle because of pass protection. Most people focus in on the center. I am not claiming these positions aren’t critical. They are. I believe the guards are really the key to an offense. They are the foundation of the run game especially if you want to run. In order to have an effective run game you need to be able to both trap and pull. If a defense only needs to defend for one then their linebackers don’t have to play you straight. They can key and sneak up into the lanes. It’s why UM has struggled running the ball for so long. Hoke wanted maulers and not guys that could move.

    You need guards who are stout and can punch, can block in space and get out on the perimeter and find blockers. Braden and Kalis were flawed and this is why I am optimistic that this year UM can make a little progress on the interior because Kugler, Onwenu and Bredeson in theory can move which should help facilitate an interior and perimeter run game. Well I hope. It’s the guards stupid. Lol.

    • Comments: 3181
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 27, 2017 at 3:09 PM

      For me it was an eye-opener to see Patrick Omameh regress while at Michigan. He was quite good as an underclassmen, then seemed lost as an upperclassmen to the point that fans wanted him gone (so that he could get replaced by Kalis I guess…). That he became an NFL starter says something. It’s not just about the player but the coaching, fit, scheme, etc.

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