Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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86 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW OFFENSIVE LINE got some upside to him. I'm looking forward to him coming out of his shell this training camp. "It's exciting. All of these guys are really eager to learn, all are really working in the weight room, busting their tails in there. I'm really looking forward to something great happening." Good lines need great leadership, Drevno said, and he's convinced he has it with the returning veterans. The best of the best might just be the former walk-on Glasgow, who has put some off-field, offseason issues behind him to thrive in the middle. Glasgow earned playing time as a reserve in 2012 before starting 13 games — nine at center — in 2013. He deferred to Jack Miller at center last year, sliding over to guard, but is clearly the Wolverines' best option in front of the quarterback. "He's been really good," Drevno said. "It's nice when you have experience at that position because the calls go inside out. I really believe the center position is just as important as the quarterback position, just in terms that he's directing guys inside, up and down the line, looking for safeties and linebackers. If something happens on the field and you have to do something else, he has to communicate. He orchestrates in there, so it's important to have a guy who is quick on his feet." Glasgow proved to be the best at the position in the spring. Some call him an overachiever; Drevno calls him a "very talented football player." "He has good football awareness and plays the game the way it should be played," Drevno said. "It's a pleasure to be able to coach him. You can tell he wants to be good." To Glasgow's left, Braden slid in from right tackle later in spring to provide what could potentially be a dominant one-two punch with his friend at center. The two are the most physically imposing of the linemen, and while the majority of Braden's experience has come at tackle (12 starts last year), he's also taken snaps during games and plenty of practice reps inside. The move seems to have suited him, Drevno said, noting Braden plays to his strengths at guard and does a nice job to be able to cover up the three technique (interior) defensive lineman. "Ben is a big, long, measurable guy, and he did a nice job playing in small areas," Drevno said. "It's great when you have a guy with that type of length to be able to run and pass block, extend on the defender and create leverage. He really fits in there well at guard — it's a nice PRESEASON ANALYSIS: OFFENSIVE LINE Starters ✪ ✪ ✪ There's plenty of experience here, and lots of talent on paper — now it's time to translate it to the field. Only sophomore left tackle Mason Cole and redshirt junior Kyle Kalis are expected back at the positions where they've spent the majority of their time, though, so it could take a while for this unit to jell … even more if the fall starting five is different than the spring's. Depth ✪ ✪ Depth at center is such a concern that sophomore left tackle Mason Cole was given a look at the position in the spring. Nobody other than the five starters has played signifi- cant minutes, and while the freshmen are talented, redshirting them would be optimal. The starters not only need to improve; they need to stay healthy for three months. X-Factor Drevno started freshmen on last year's line at USC, so it's clear he's willing. First-year linemen Jon Runyan Jr., Nolan Ulizio and Grant Newsome will at least get a look, and if they're physically ready and prove they're the best options, they'll play. Overall ✪ ✪ ✪ This isn't a Michigan line of old, but it's got potential, especially in the starting five. As unlikely as it seems, this unit could be the strength of the offense if it continues to progress, and the coaches will likely play to it by running the ball early and often during the non-conference portion of the schedule in an effort to build confidence. There could be an all-conference performer or two in this bunch, but they've got some proving to do. Note: Star rankings are made on a scale of 1-5 stars. QUICK FACTS Position Coach: Tim Drevno (first season). Returning Starters: LT Mason Cole (12 career starts), LG Ben Braden (12), C Graham Glasgow (24), RG Kyle Kalis (16), RT Erik Magnuson (11). Departing Starter: C Jack Miller (16). Projected New Starter: None. Top Reserves: C/OG Blake Bars, OG David Dawson, OT Juwan Bushell-Beatty. Wait Until 2016: C Pat Kugler, OT Logan Tuley-Tillman, OG Chris Fox. Newcomers: OG Grant Newsome, OT Jon Runyan Jr., OG Nolan Ulizio. Moved In: None. Moved Out: None. Rookie Impact: None. Most Improved Player: Glasgow. Best Pro Prospect: Kalis. FYI: Cole became the first true freshman in Michigan history to start a season opener (Appalachian State) on the offensive line. He was named a first-team Freshman All-Amer- ican by Sporting News and ESPN.com … The Wolverines finished eighth in the Big Ten last year in rushing yardage (162.8 yards per game) and eighth in sacks allowed (25) … Kalis is the son of Todd Kalis, an offensive lineman in the NFL from 1988-95, while Kugler's dad, Sean, is currently the head coach at Texas-El Paso, a position he has held since the 2013 season after serving as an NFL assistant in Pittsburgh … Kugler's brother, Robert, is a center at Purdue … Glasgow's brother, Ryan, plays on the Michigan defensive line, and their brother, Jordan, joined the program as a preferred walk-on safety in March … Bars' brother, Brad, played defensive end at Penn State, and his dad, Joe, played at Notre Dame in the early 1980s … Jon Runyan Jr. is the son of former Michigan All-American tackle and NFL standout Jon Runyan … Runyan Sr. was the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's third congressional district from 2011-15 … Drevno oversaw an offensive line unit at USC that included three freshmen — Toa Lobendahn, Damien Mama and Viane Talamaivao — who started games last year … Michigan's backup linemen have appeared in nine total games, seeing very little action. Redshirt junior Ben Braden started all 12 games at right tackle last season, but he has moved over to the left guard spot for the upcoming campaign. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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