It's obvious Michigan wants to forget the season they had last year. I'm sure another 7-6 record is not what the Wolverines have in mind, or another losing record in the Big Ten. But people cannot use the "This is Michigan" excuse to say Michigan football will be back this year.
There has been a ton of talk about the quarterback situation between Shane Morris and Devin Gardner. There's been a lot of talk about the running back's and how Derrick Green lost 20 lbs. and De'Veon Smith is doing great. But what good is it if Michigan doesn't have an offensive line to help protect the quarterbacks, or an offensive line to block for the running backs?
The obvious elephant in the room is this; will Michigan be able to protect it's stars? Michigan's new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has discussed many issues revolving around this topic, and he won't be satisfied with this O-Line it seems.
The offensive line is nowhere near where it needs to be come football time in the Big House. There is still a ton of competition going on for these guys to earn a spot on the field. We could see many surprises this year as far as who's going to start.
The Left Tackle position competition consists of Erik Magnuson, Mason Cole, and David Dawson. They will have some pretty big shoes to fill taking over the spot of Taylor Lewan, who was drafted by the Tennessee Titans. Magnuson looks to be the obvious favorite being that he has been around the team the longest. Magnuson is a redshirt sophomore while Cole and Dawson are both either freshman or redshirt freshman.
At left guard Kyle Bosch is counting on being the starter. He started in 3 games last season, and appeared in 5. Bosch is still pretty young and inexperienced at the college level only being a sophomore. This could also be a position where we would see David Dawson competing.
Jack Miller looks to make a statement to become the next center for the Wolverines. Last season Miller made 4 starts and played in 10 games. The right guard position consists of one of the most experienced offensive linemen on the team - Kyle Kalis, who is only a redshirt sophomore. A big man trying to earn his spot in the starting lineup is Patrick Kugler another young redshirt freshman who has yet to see the field. He will compete for either the center position of the right guard position, but he will have a lot to prove in order to make the starting lineup.
Then finally the right tackle position where there is a lot of questions. Ben Braden played in 2 games all of last year but didn't start any of them. As a redshirt sophomore with almost no experience on the field he is in the running for that starting job. But going up against Graham Glasgow, who has the most experience out of anybody on this offensive line, will mean getting let that job won't be very easily. What could hold Glasgow back from starting would be his off field issues he encountered in the offseason.
There you have one of the youngest and most inexperienced offensive lines in the Big Ten. It will be very interesting to see how things work out, and how Michigan will counter the strong defenses in the Big Ten. I'm sure many Wolverine fans don't want to see another negative in the rushing column after playing Michigan State again.
The Overall Picture
This seems to be a topic being thrown under the bus, because it is a topic that doesn't make Michigan sound good in any way shape or form. Why would any Michigan supporter want to talk about it? It's the weakest position on the team, but it needs to be the heart and soul of the team. With no offensive line, the offense is about worthless.
Michigan's offense can be very dangerous if they can get a decent offensive line on the field. They will be the key to success for the 2014 season. Devin Gardner is a play maker when comfortable, then you have players like Derrick Green, De'Veon Smith and the USC transfer Ty Issac who are your typical Michigan style running backs. But you can't forget Michigan has some of the best receivers in the Big Ten in Devin Funchess, Csont'e York, Freddy Canteen, and Amara Darboh.
Michigan's schedule is very interesting. There isn't a game on that schedule that Michigan isn't capable of winning. Now the bad part of having this schedule is the Wolverines play Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State all on the road. Then Michigan has a favorable home schedule with Appalachian State, Miami OH, Utah, Minnesota, Penn State at night, Indiana and Maryland. Brady Hoke has only lost one game at home since he took over as head coach and it was to Ohio State a season ago.
This will be an interesting year for Michigan if they can figure out this offensive line situation and get these guys to help make Michigan a competitive team in the Big Ten.
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