|Lewan gives breakdown on O-line teammates|
|Written by Matt Pargoff|
There is little question that the Wolverines have work to do on the offensive line before the start of the season against Central Michigan on Aug. 31. Last year, the Maize and Blue averaged their lowest yards per carry for running backs since the 2001 season, when Michigan was replacing four starters on the line and the program’s then all-time leading rusher.
The struggles of the unit last fall, and the perception that the line could be a potential weakness of the squad is not something that is lost on fifth-year senior Taylor Lewan. Focusing on areas for improvement, the running game will certainly be point of emphasis in fall camp, but the veteran is quick to point out that the expectations for every player have a broader scope than just that one component of the game.
“This is Michigan – the winningest program in country,” stated Lewan. “You don’t get away with subpar in one area and excellent in another. You need to be excellent or elite in every category if you want to play at Michigan.”
An added challenge the Wolverines will face in improving on the line will be working with less experienced players. With the graduation of Ricky Barnum, Elliott Mealer and Patrick Omameh, the Maize and Blue must replace the whole interior of the offensive front.
While redshirt freshmen Ben Braden and Kyle Kalis made a strong move during the spring to claim the two guard spots, the center position is still one that is up for grabs.
“[The center competition is] going pretty well,” said Lewan. “We have a triangle thing going between Ben, Graham [Glasgow] and Jack [Miller] between left guard and center, and then Kyle and Joey [Burzynski] are doing a lot with right guard. But today [Miller and Glasgow] both looked really good. No huge problems there. They all did their job.
“Obviously there was rust, but the interior guys looked good. I think we’re building off our spring. We’re not just starting over from where we were at the start of spring.”
Another player that could also be in the running for one of the spots on the interior is redshirt sophomore Chris Bryant. The massive lineman broke his leg a year ago, but was able to return to action during the spring.
“I think he’ll be in the mix,” noted Lewan. “Chris is a hard worker. He’s dedicated. He’s lost a lot of weight. He looks good. So I’m excited to see what he does this camp.”
While one of the big strengths of the offensive line is the two veteran starting tackles, the Wolverines have very little in the way of proven depth at the position. At this early stage, redshirt freshman Erik Magnuson appears to be the primary backup at both spots on the edge.
“Magnuson’s been doing a great job,” stated Lewan. “I think his strong suit is the pass [protection]. He could do a little bit better and have some improvement in his run game, but everyone’s doing pretty well.”
See the complete video below of Lewan’s talk with the press following Michigan’s first practice on Monday.