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2012 Michigan Preview – Offensive Line

August 30, 2012

Offensive Line

Probable Offensive Line Starters: Tackle – Taylor Lewan (Jr.); Guard – Elliott Mealer (Sr.); Center – Ricky Barnum (Sr.); Patrick Omameh (Sr.); Tackle – Michael Schofield (Jr.)

 Backups: Kyle Kalis (Fr.); Joey Burzynski (Jr.); Erik Magnuson (Fr.)

The good news about the 2012 Michigan offensive line is that the 5 starters are probably as good as any unit in the Big Ten.  Taylor Lewan is finally living up to his hype, and is entering his 3rd year of starting.  He has all-conference potential, if not higher.  The other tackle, Michael Schofield doesn’t have the experience of  Lewan, but is battle tested at both tackle and guard.  The junior tackle spent last year getting comfortable with increased playing time and could be a breakout player this year

On the interior line, Ricky Barnum has huge shoes to fill in replacing Rimington Award winner David Molk, but seems to be making the transition from guard very well.  Of the guards, I like Patrick Omameh better.  He’s a player that can be the best offensive lineman on the field at times, but also lacks consistency.  Elliott Mealer appears to have held off true freshman Kyle Kalis and walk-on Joey Burzynski to gain the starting nod, which means he’s also finally shown the consistency needed to be a full-time starter.

Overall, Michigan has 5 very good starters who should be a strength for this team – if they can stay healthy.

And that’s the “but” that accompanies all of this.  The bad news for this line is that the depth is severely lacking.  The most likely replacements should someone go down are Joey Burzynski and freshman Kyle Kalis and Erik Magnuson.  Both Kalis and Magnuson are special talents, but in an ideal world would redshirt before playing.  Michigan has already lost sophomore Chris Bryant to a season ending leg injury – they can’t afford anymore injuries.  They just don’t have the bodies to keep the train (or chains) moving, if the starting five can’t stay healthy.

STRENGTHS 

The starting five offensive line may be as good as any in the Big Ten.  Based on reports out of fall camp, there is no real weakness among them.   Taylor Lewan and Ricky Barnum are probably the best of the five, but Mealer, Omameh and Schofield all have experience and talent.  If they can stay healthy, this line may be one of the best in recent memory.

WEAKNESSES

After the starting five, there is a huge dropoff.  The offensive line just wasn’t properly developed the last few years, with several guys flaming out or just not developing as Big Ten caliber linemen.  Kalis and Magnuson will be stars one day, but not yet.  And the injury to Chris Bryant is a killer in terms of depth.  Michigan can’t afford any injuries this fall on the line.

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