Friday, January 10, 2014
The good, the bad, the future: O-line
By Chantel Jennings
The struggles of the offensive line were well documented this season. With several starting lineups and no real cohesion until late November, the Michigan O-line acted as a real speed bump to the Wolverines offense ever finding any kind of momentum.
The good news in an otherwise tough season on the UM O-line is that young players like Kyle Kalis got plenty of experience.
THE GOOD: Several young players got game experience (this is the silver lining of having so many lineup changes throughout the season). So while it might have been frustrating that it seemed as though the offensive line never could find consistency with its five, the fact that several returning players -- Kyle Kalis, Graham Glasgow, Jack Miller, Erik Magnuson, Kyle Bosch -- all got real, in-game experience is going to be such a boost for them at Michigan. Obviously, it created havoc for the Wolverines in the short term, but in the long run it could be a good thing for Michigan. Also, it was good for Michigan to have Taylor Lewan named an All-American again this season. It keeps up Michigan’s tradition of having talented left tackles but also gives the players something to aim for.
THE BAD: Most of it. They say that if you’re going to have youth on the offensive line, then it’s best to have it on the outside. Unfortunately for Michigan, they had the experience on the outside. It was great for the Wolverines to have veterans at left and right tackle, but when you’re going into the season opener and your interior offensive line combines for zero starts, it’s generally a (really, really) bad thing. The fact that Michigan couldn’t figure out its starting lineup until far too late is the reason why the offense never got going and likely why Devin Gardner missed the bowl game (if he hadn’t gotten so banged up going into the Ohio State game, there’s a better chance he doesn’t injure his foot). For a program that emphasizes its strength in the trenches, this will be a season it looks to forget.
THE FUTURE: It could/should be bright assuming the talent that the Wolverines recruited is actually developed. Michigan really doesn’t have to worry about bodies. It has recruited the offensive line like crazy. In the 2012 class the Wolverines brought in four offensive linemen. In 2013 they brought in six, including five who were four-star recruits. And in 2014, they have commitments from two, including one who has already enrolled on campus. So as far as bodies go, they’re good. But this is where offensive line coach Darrell Funk needs to come in and really develop those players. The good thing about the players they do have is that they have experience on the interior, so as long as they can develop that, it should be much stronger than it was throughout the season.