When Jim Harbaugh was in the market for a new offensive line coach this past offseason, he didn’t have to look very far.
Following Ed Warinner’s departure, Harbaugh promoted former tight ends coach Sherrone Moore to offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator. Moore, seen as a budding star in the coaching industry, has been on the Michigan football team’s staff since 2018. In his three seasons coaching tight ends, the unit saw six players combine for 1,611 yards and 13 touchdowns on 119 receptions en route to multiple All-Big Ten selections.
But now, Moore is rechanneling his own football career in order to coach the Wolverines’ offensive line. He played offensive guard at Oklahoma in 2006 and 2007, helping clear holes for Adrian Peterson as the Sooners won back-to-back Big 12 titles. It’s no coincidence that Harbaugh hired a former lineman from within.
“A lot of those guys know me from coaching tight ends, so they have a good feel of who I am as a person,” Moore said Wednesday. “I’m not going to change. The first thing I told them is that for us to be successful as a team, it starts with us. We’ve got to run the team in every aspect, every shape and form. Every good team I’ve been around, it’s the offensive line that’s controlled the team.”
So far, Moore’s unit has done exactly that. The Wolverines are leading the nation in rushing with 350.3 yards per game, headlined by Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded college running back, sophomore Blake Corum.
Michigan’s offensive line has dominated the line of scrimmage during the first three games, using split zone, power and pin-and-pull schemes to clear big holes. Moore has re-energized the room, according to Harbaugh, and the results are evident on Saturdays.
“I let them know I’m going to coach you hard, but I’m going to love you harder,” Moore said. “I think that’s been the message and what I’ve tried to implement and do since I’ve taken over the position. And really be myself and not being anything else.”
Michigan’s early-season running success is a reflection of the commitment along the offensive line. Sixth-year senior Andrew Vastardis has emerged as the leader of the unit at center, while sophomore Zak Zinter and junior Trevor Keegan start at the neighboring guard spots. Tackles Ryan Hayes, a senior, and Andrew Stueber, a fifth-year, round out the starting line as stalwart bookends.
The starters aren’t the only ones making a difference, though. Given that the Wolverines have opened up big leads in each of their first three games, the backups have seen the field quite a bit. In particular, Moore singled out freshman Greg Crippen, sophomore Reece Atteberry, junior Trente Jones and junior Karsen Barnhart as impressive performers off the bench. As Michigan begins its Big Ten schedule, the healthy competition along the line is a plus.
“We always say that the depth chart is a living organism, so it’s always moving, it’s always shaking,” Moore said. “I think the best part of having really good players behind you is that it makes the guys that are the ones to be even better, because if you’re not, your spot can get taken. I think it’s always going to be a battle to see who’s going to be the one that week.”
At this point, starters and backups alike are bullying opposing defensive lines. It reminds Moore of the 10-80-10 study he once read about. It stipulates that the alignment of any business is defined by 10% of people who completely buy-in, 10% who are indifferent and 80% who fall somewhere in the middle.
“If you can get that 10% to drag the 80%, you create a 100, because the other 10% is out of it,” Moore said. “And I think we’re pretty close to that. I think we’re there, which is why you’re getting the result.”