Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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88 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW OFFENSIVE LINE the tackle spot is a good position for him, and he's now learning our techniques and things. He's doing a nice job." Others will get their opportunities, though, and Drevno's job this fall will be to develop a two-deep so if one man goes down, another can step in and keep the line from missing a beat. Guards might get looks at tackle, tackles might swing back inside and a few guys will get looks at center until he figures it out, but he's confident he will. "We'll figure out in training camp how it's going to work," he said. "I think about the great offensive lines they've had here, the great players during the Bo Schembechler years of Jim Harbaugh and be- yond. Jim would be first to say we need a great offensive line. That's the standard here, and we're going to demand we reach that standard. "These guys are willing to do that, and they're really exciting to coach because we have a lot of guys willing to compete at a high level, who want to be successful. They're coachable guys. They might come out and do something really good one day, maybe not so well the next, but the next day they fix the problem. There are a lot of guys that want to fix the problem, that have desires to do well." He can't ask for anything more as a coach, he said. "It's a good problem to have," he said of the competition. "That's why we came here and took on this job and chose Michigan, and why Michigan chose us to coach. It's a pretty neat place to work." ❏ Backups, Nasty Factor Could Determine O-Line Success When former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke took over for Rich Rodriguez in 2011, he inherited only eight scholarship offensive linemen. The Wolverines' only hope for success was that the first stringers would either stay healthy or have a high tolerance for pain and be able to play through it. The situation Jim Harbaugh inherits in 2015 isn't as dire, but it's still not ideal. Five players return with plenty of experience, but the backups are unproven — to say the least. Former Michigan All-Big Ten offensive lineman Doug Skene has watched the line closely over the last several years and sees plenty of potential. The biggest area of concern, he believes, is in the middle of the line. "The biggest deficiency right now is the depth at center," he said. "[Fifth-year senior] Graham Glasgow is nice in there, but I wanted to see [redshirt sophomore] Pat Kugler [6-5, 297] come on. He's a third-year guy this fall and they need depth, competition. It's easy for us to say they're going to be fine with Glasgow, but you want someone pushing Glasgow to make him up his game. "As for Graham, he's been serviceable in there. He's got a big body, moves well enough, but they need more than what we've seen. You need that next level beyond just executing where you're turning on the nasty. We haven't seen enough of it." Not from Glasgow or anyone else on the line, Skene insisted. Of the five starters coming out of spring (left to right, sophomore Mason Cole, redshirt junior Ben Braden, Glasgow, redshirt junior Kyle Kalis and redshirt junior Erik Magnuson), only Kalis has shown flashes of it. The good news, he added — it's not too late. Braden is a man-child physically, and if he ever decides to be that guy, Skene said, he could make defensive linemen cry. It only takes one guy, he added, to bring that out of everyone else on the line. "Braden reminds me of me [in 1990] before the Steve Everitt influence, looking back on it," he said of his teammate and Michigan's former All-Big Ten center. "You've got to find your dark side that's encouraged on the football field. "You can see it coming out of their body language. When you watch an offensive line and say, 'These guys are just messing with people,' that's when it's so much fun. You become this nasty pack of wolves out there, like a gang." Chemistry is built off the field, too, he said. Groups that hang together off the field play better when they're on it, and the young guys learn their lessons from the older ones. The leadership has been lacking in recent years, but Skene seems promise in some of the younger players. "I thought Logan Tuley-Tillman [6-7, 309] made a lot of improvement," Skene said of the redshirt sophomore tackle. "When he first showed up, that was a project. He wasn't strong enough, needed a lot of physical development and was a long way away. But even then, the kid had good feet. He moves pretty well, and I think he'll be in the rotation this year." Whoever's out there is capable, Skene said, as long as he's willing. "Guys are starting from scratch with another line coach, in another system, but fundamentals are still fundamentals," he said. "You're either zone blocking or base man gap blocking. Both require that you get your feet going, and the first step is yours because you own the cadence. The second step is the difference. How fast can you get that second step in the ground? Then you have to play with leverage. "It's not complicated. It really isn't. It all comes back to something you can't mea- sure — that willingness within." They'll find out this fall who has it and who doesn't. — Chris Balas Redshirt junior Kyle Kalis has appeared in 24 games as an of- fensive lineman in his Michigan career, starting 16 contests at right guard. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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