Drevno says struggling UM offense must ‘keep pumping’

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Michigan offensive coordinator Tim Drevno dug deep into his story well to share a day from his past that has helped shape his day-to-day search for perfection as an individual, a coach and as a husband and father.

Questions abound as to why the Michigan offense hasn’t been in sync, and Drevno is aware of them. The Wolverines are preparing to play at No. 2 Penn State in a night game Saturday at Beaver Stadium.

While the defense is ranked No. 1 nationally, the offense has been sluggish and mistake-prone from quarterback to the offensive line, to the backs and receivers. Backup John O’Korn is now the starting quarterback in place of injured Wilton Speight, and the Wolverines, 5-1, 2-1 Big Ten, are coming off an overtime win at Indiana last Saturday in which the Wolverines ran for 271 yards.

Drevno said the offensive line is improving. Michael Onwenu, a first-year starter at right guard, is understanding the position better, Drevno said, and moving his feet, while Juwann Bushell-Beatty, who made his first start of the season at right tackle last weekend, showed good signs in pass protection but needs work in run blocking.

“Each game they’re getting better,” Drevno said of the offensive line, before making it a big-picture statement of the offense as a whole.

He then shared an anecdotal story from the summer of 1993. He was newly married to wife, Shannon, and was making $12,000 in his first coaching job at Montana State.


“We’re living in a 600-square-foot little home,” Drevno said. “The washer was in the bathroom, the dryer was in the bedroom.”

To make ends meet, he took a summer job as groundskeeper for the Bozeman Bucks American Legion baseball team. He made $6,000.

“There was one day I was out there and I had to mow,” Drevno said. “I got out there and I didn’t bring any water. It was hot. In that Big Sky area, 95 degrees, it can be hot, sunny, blue sky. So I had to mow the field, it was 385 to the deep center field. There was a water well out back. I went out the back gates, tired, hot.

“I walk back to get some water because I was thirsty, I started pumping. I started getting five, six, seven, eight, ‘Come on, is it going to give? Come on.’ I get to 20-25. No. I turn back around, walked through the fence to go mow. In my mind the whole time I’m thinking, ‘If I went one more pump, is this thing going to give?’ I mowed some more.”

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Drevno said he went back to the well, reached about 60 attempts, and still nothing.

“Still in my mind I’m thinking, ‘Would it give?’ ” he said. “Go back mow some more, get back out there, 75, 80. Bam! Water comes out. ‘Wow, this is great. Water coming out.’ Quenching the thirst. I feel great.”

He quenched his thirst, and a lasting message was revealed that he applies to Michigan’s current offense.

“The one thing I learned from that whole experience was, you’ve got to keep pumping before it’s going to give,” Drevno said Wednesday before practice.

“I really believe offensively, it’s going to give. You look at some passes we missed deep or getting tackled in the backfield or big runs, we are on the path for great things to happen, so we’ve got to keep pumping. And we’re doing that as an offensive coaching staff to finish. We’re on our way.”