Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 57 that we're pushing for it and ready to show people." Braden insisted that veterans such as fifth- year senior center Graham Glasgow and redshirt junior right guard Kyle Kalis are stepping up as leaders, and that Glasgow in particular can be a vocal one. "He's always either yelling or talking with some of the younger guys, helping someone with technique," Braden said. "Graham is always the guy who steps up and helps lead." Braden insists he doesn't care where he plays this fall, as long as he's on the field. He went from right tackle (where he played throughout 2014) to left guard in spring practice, with redshirt junior Erik Magnuson moving out to tackle. There could be more of that, before all is said and done. If someone isn't doing the job, they're going to be shifted around or pulled altogether, according to multiple reports. Braden sees the purpose behind all of the shuffling. "A lot of guys were moving around," he said. "It was partly so coaches could see how different people play different positions, but partly to push people. "Everything is about pushing. They'll moves guys around to push someone else, to make them better. It's like, 'This guy is good, but, if we push him, he'll be that much better.' There is always that competition, and you're always being pushed." Tim Drevno does the pushing these days. The run-game guru and offensive line coach has developed Harbaugh's lines from the University of San Diego right on up to the Super Bowl appearance with the San Fran- cisco 49ers. That's a huge plus, according to several U-M offensive linemen. Of course, Har- baugh isn't afraid to have his say in that area as well. "He's always watching us," Braden said of Harbaugh. "He watches everybody. He cares about everything that's going on. If something is not quite right, he's in there, with Coach Drevno, fixing what's going on. "Every little thing matters. That's just how this game is. It's amazing to have coaches like Harbaugh and Drevno to be so passion- ate about what they're doing coaching us. It's awesome." Drevno, Braden noted, combines very high expectations with an open-door policy that those in his charge find both helpful and comforting. "He holds us accountable to knowing a lot of different things," Braden said. "He's also very personable. It's really easy to approach him and ask him questions one-on-one, even outside the practice field. It's easy to go to his office and say, 'Hey Coach, I've got a question.' "He'll drop what he's doing and does ev- erything he can to help you. He's always asking how we're doing in school, and per- sonally, how our families are doing. It's nice to have that feeling with the coach, and Drevno is very open to that." Braden has also watched enough film to know what a Drevno line looks like. "Hard-hitting and playing really fast," Braden said. "Those are the two biggest things. It's coming off and hitting somebody, just playing fast and passionately." Playmakers Sought Harbaugh's post-spring challenge to the wide receivers, involving stepping up and making more plays, did not go unnoticed. Morris is quick to point out, though, that he sees the potential. "They have already," Morris said. "They have all offseason, since that spring game. They've been in every day, running routes, catching from the JUGS [machine], working with different quarterbacks. "They didn't have a problem catching the ball in the spring game. I could have put those passes on them better. I made it tough for them to make a few catches." Morris pointed to redshirt junior Jehu Chesson as a potential deep-ball threat, even while some question whether the Wolverines feature one. "We've got a lot of guys," Morris said. "Jehu is our fastest guy on the team. He wins every sprint. He'll run down there, and he'll get it. I didn't have him on my team for the spring game, but he'll go get it." Certainly, Michigan junior tight end Jake Butt will get a chance to be a focal point. He could have a huge season, but that in part is predicated on opponents' respect for Michi- gan's run game. The Wolverines averaged 125.7 yards per contest on the ground last season and will certainly look to move up that number. "We're going to establish a strong running game and run the ball so we can throw it," Morris said. That vow has gone unfulfilled too often in recent years, but Braden noted there's incentive beyond that supplied by the new coaching staff. The Wolverines' losses included under- achieving offensive performances in defeats against Utah (26-10), Minnesota (30-14) and Maryland (23-16), breakdowns in lopsided losses (31-0 at Notre Dame, 35-11 at Michi- gan State), and even an 18-13 struggle past Penn State. Every peek back shouts out a challenge to work a little harder, Braden insisted. Playing the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes to a 21-all standoff midway through the third quarter showed something as well, he acknowledged. "When you look down to the bone, it shows us how close we were," he said. "Be- ing close doesn't really cut it, obviously. It gives us a sense of direction. "Things can be frustrating at times. Last year, we felt so close, but we weren't quite there. That has really fueled the pushing we've experienced as a team, this whole offseason." The addition of Harbaugh & Co. might represent the higher octane they need. ❑ The past two years, U-M quarterbacks — including Shane Morris — were sacked 61 times, but offensive lineman Ben Braden (No. 71) expects his unit to be much improved this season. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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