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2011 Season Preview Offensive Line and Tight Ends

August 30, 2011

Part Two of the 2011 The Wolverine Den’s Season Preview is going to focus on the big uglies up front, the offensive linemen and tight ends.

Offensive Line

Key Losses: Perry Dorrestein, Steve Schilling

Returning Starters: Mark Huyge, David Molk, Patrick Omameh, Taylor Lewan

One of the reasons that Michigan had one of the most potent rushing attacks the country in 2010 is because of a very good offensive line.  While this year’s line will no longer be a zone blocking team and will return to the smashmouth offensive lines of the past, they still figure to be a huge strength for what should still be a potent offense.

The leader of the offensive line is Center David Molk, who is already on the watch list for the Rimington Award, which is awarded annually to the best center in college football.  Molk has All-Big Ten potential, and if he can stay healthy, should end up on that list by the end of the year.  The other candidate for All-Conference honors is left tackle Taylor Lewan.  In his first season starting last year Lewan showed why he was often compared to former All-American Jake Long.  While Lewan may not be at Long’s level yet, he’s on his way.  The other tackle spot will likely be filled by senior Mark Huyge, a solid and reliable player who split time starting at right tackle with Perry Dorrestein last year.  With Dorrestein gone to graduation, the position belongs to Huyge.  He struggled in pass protection at times last year against elite defensive ends and probably will have similar troubles against the better players in the conference.  Overall, he’s a solid starter who should fit it nicely with the rest of the offensive line.

Moving inside the tackles to the guards, the likely starters will be Ricky Barnum and Patrick Omameh.  Omameh looked like an All-American at times last year and will hopefully continue along that path. Though early in camp sophomore Michael Schofield was pushing him for playing time. Hopefully that is a sign of how good Schofield can be, because at times I felt Omameh was our best lineman last year.  At the other guard, Ricky Barnum came in as a highly rated recruit who is looking at his first year of starting this fall.  Reports out of camp that the starting five of Lewan, Barnum, Molk, Omameh and Huyge have looked very good, with specific praise going to the left side of the line (Lewan + Barnum)

In the event one of these guys goes down, Michigan’s 2nd string is talented, but unfortunately not very deep.  Junior Rocko Khoury will be the likely replacement at the center position, and Michael Schofield is the candidate to fill in should a tackle go down, though as its been noted, he’s played well at guard too.  Elliott Mealer is listed as 2nd on the depth chart at either guard spot. Beyond the three of them, its possible freshman Chris Bryant could get into the mix, but ideally he’ll have a chance to redshirt.  The big question is whether or not the line can stay healthy.  There is no question the starting 5 lineman have a chance to be one of the best in the country, but after that, things get a little dicey.  We probably can afford 1 injury, but any more than that and the offense is going to struggle.

Tight Ends

Key Losses: Martell Webb

Returning Starters: Kevin Koger

While Rich Rodriguez didn’t neglect the tight end position, he didn’t emphasize it either.  That is absolutely going to change under Brady Hoke and  senior Kevin Koger stands to benefit the most.  Don’t be surprised if the recently elected captain becomes the surprise breakout player this year on offense.  While Koger only had 14 catches for 199 yards last year, he’ll be much more involved in the offense and should far surpass those numbers this season.  More importantly, as Michigan returns to a smashmouth style of football, his play in the running scheme will be very important to Michigan’s success.  In addition to Koger,  junior Brandon Moore will also see time at tight end, and should have the opportunity to make some plays.  Neither is a game-changer, but both are capable of contributing in both the running and passing game. 

The other player to watch out for here could be sophomore tight end and converted wide receiver Ricardo Miller.  Miller is a great athlete, and has the potential to be a star, he’s just not quite ready yet. Right now he’s still in that in between stage of WR and TE, and hasn’t fully adapted.  Hopefully they can get him some snaps this fall however, because his athleticism is something special. 

Tune in tomorrow for a preview of the defensive line and linebackers….

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Wise permalink
    August 30, 2011 8:51 PM

    Need to bring back the QB waggle with the TE running a post. That was our best play in the 90s. Was a great go to play being good for 30yds every time.

  2. August 30, 2011 9:02 PM

    I definitely think we will see that this year. And with Denard on the waggle, it should work like a charm!

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