Saturday, August 24, 2013

BHB 2013 Positon Previews: Offensive Line


Proposed Starters:
Tackles:  Seniors Taylor Lewan (L) and Michael Schofield (R)
Left Guard:  Ben Braden
Center:  TBD (Miller or Glasgow)
Right Guard:  Kyle Kalis

Can a position group have a bunch of turnover and be better then it was the year before?  I think the answer is Yes!  Michigan has 2 very good tackles in Lewan and Schofield.  Lewan is headed to be a top 10 draft pick next year and Schofield should be drafted as well.  So that leaves the two guard positions and the center of course. 

Let's hit the center position first as that seems to be a highly competitive situation in camp right now.  We are a week away from kicking off the season and a starter has not been named yet.  The two guys competing seem to be Jack Miller and walk-on Graham Glasgow.  If you remember Graham was a bit of recruiting battle between Michigan and OSU for his services as a walk-on.  He picked OSU but showed up on Michigan's roster the next fall, so he is clearly a smart young man to change his mind. 

My gut tells me that Jack Miller will win this spot, but anything can happen in the next week before the CMU game.  (there is an internet rumor that Miller's hand is broken, which I believe is false)

It seems that the Michigan coaches were close to putting in Kyle Kalis last year as the line struggled at times.   They didn't which saved his redshirt and I think it's clear he will take one of the guard starting spots.  The other spot I have penciled in Ben Braden who Lewan said was one of the most athletically gifted offensive lineman he has ever seen at 6'6 and 314 pounds.   There also seems to be plenty of talent on the sideline ready to play like the often injured Chris Bryant, Blake Bars, Glasgow, Kyle Bosch and Joey Burzynski.

I love the depth and the ceiling for this group is very high.   I expect they will have very improved run blocking and being able to pull much better then they did last year.  Watching the scrimmage videos, pass protection could be a bit of a weakness but hopefully that will improve as the season matures.   

Who is the first guy off the bench?

I believe it will be Graham Glasgow at center or guard.  It seems like he is ready and will get some playing time to spell somebody or replace someone if there is an injury. 

Which guy did not make your starting line up has the biggest upside?

It seems we all forgot about Chris Bryant through spring and fall until he was mentioned he sat out of the 1st scrimmage they had a week ago.  I have always like Chris and if he can stay healthy could be an NFL player.   Even if he doesn't get the start, I would like to see him get some snaps in the CMU game if possible. 

Why did the offensive line struggle last year?

That is a tough question to answer and it could be a lot of factors like talent and offensive strategy.  I think it was clear that Big Al struggled with the offense under Denard.   Now Big Al and Coach Hoke want to run down hill with physical offensive lineman.  Hoke's strong recruiting will now start to show up the offensive line, just like RR's poor recruiting has had a huge effect of the offensive line the past few years.

Will we see any true freshman get time this year?

I think the Michigan coaches would love to redshirt all the true freshmen this year but LTT and Bosch both have 15 more practices over their peers because they enrolled in January.   So I believe they would be the first true freshman to get a chance to play.  The next is Pat Kugler who was a 5 star offensive lineman last year.  I even saw a list with his name on it for potential freshman of the year candidates in the Big Ten.  I expect the coaches would prefer not to have to use him this year.  His father is a offensive line coach in the NFL, so we are assuming he would be prepared if he gets his shot. 

This unit has to be the "most improved" on the team if Michigan is going to compete for a Big Ten Championship.  They have to keep Devin clean and open holes for all the talent at running back.   If  Lewan's leadership can come through this unit can be very good and propel the offensive to big things. 

This completes the offensive previews for 2013.  Since next week is game week, we might have to consolidate the defensive previews into one or two posts.

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