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2013 Michigan Football Preview – Offensive Line

August 24, 2013

Offensive Line

Guaranteed Offensive Line Starters: Left Tackle – Taylor Lewan (Sr.);  Right Guard – Kyle Kalis (So.); Right Tackle – Michael Schofield (Sr.)

Possible Offensive Line Starters: Left Guard – Graham Glasgow (RS So.) OR Chris Bryant (RS So.) ; Center – Jack Miller (RS So.) or Graham Glasgow 

Key Backups:  Joey Burzynski (Sr.); Erik Magnuson (RS Fr.) Ben Braden (RS Fr.) 

When Taylor Lewan unexpectedly decided to return to school and exercise his 5th year of eligibility, the Michigan offensive line went from an area of concern to a strength.  Lewan would have been a Top 5 pick, and maybe the #1 overall pick in last year’s NFL Draft, so the importance of his decision to stay cannot be overstated.  Lewan will be the best offensive lineman in the Big Ten, and perhaps the country, and assuming he stays healthy should be on every All-American team come December.  At the opposite tackle, Michael Schofield is no slouch himself.  He may not be a Top Ten NFL Draft pick, but he has a future playing on Sundays.  Though his best position may be guard, he’s a potential All-Conference player at Right Tackle as well.  Moving inside, there are still several question marks as to who will be starting.  Redshirt freshman Kyle Kalis is almost certain to start at Right Guard.  Kalis came in as a freshman last  year among much hype, and there was discussion he might even make the two-deep last year.  He had some trouble adjusting to the college game, and it sounds like his redshirt year has made a world of difference.  He and Schofield will make the right side of the line very formidable.   The two positions still up the air are Center and Left Guard.  It’s clear that the two positions will be filled by two of three players – Jack Miller, Graham Glasgow and Chris Bryant – but which two are still to be decided.  As of today, the smart money would be to see Jack Miller at Center and Chris Bryant at Left Guard.  Bryant had an injury that kept him off of the field last year, but he is the type of road grader Hoke wants on the line and appears to be pulling away from Glasgow.  Miller has fought off walk-on Glasgow for most of the fall at Center, and it appears he also has pulled away if only slightly.   That being said, anything can happen between now and next Saturday, and it wouldn’t surprise to me to see Glasgow start over either Miller or Bryant.

After those six, Michigan finally has some depth in the two deep.  Redshirt freshman Ben Braden had been in the mix at guard, but now appears to be the #1 option should Lewan or Schofield go down at tackle.  Erik Magnuson, another highly rated recruit, along with veterans Joey Burzynski and Erik Gunderson are all capable backups in the event of an injury

STRENGTHS 

There’s no question the strength of this line is on the edges with Lewan and Schofield.  Together, they are the best pair of tackles in the Big Ten.   Additionally, though somewhat unproven, Michigan finally has enough talented depth that should injuries occur, they can be managed – though all bets are off if one of those injuries is to Lewan.

WEAKNESSES

As good as the tackles are, they can’t make up for some potential weaknesses in the middle at guard and center.  Michigan struggled running the ball all of last year because of their inability to get a push in the middle up front.  With the entire interior line graduating, its unfair to suggest that the newcomers won’t fare better, but they’ll need to if Michigan wants to have the type of running attack they desire.

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