Michigan Football Preview 2016

2016 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 85 of 179

84 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2016 FOOTBALL PREVIEW OFFENSIVE LINE BY CHRIS BALAS W hen former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke replaced Rich Rodriguez in 2011, he inherited only eight scholar- ship offensive linemen. The Wolverines lived dangerously up front, needing some good luck in the injury department to get through the season. The situation wasn't nearly as dire when Jim Harbaugh took the reins in 2015, with five returning starters — including a future NFL third-round draft pick at center in Graham Glasgow — but U-M was still trying to get back to the old days in which the backups were good enough to be starters at most schools. Offensive coordinator/line coach Tim Drevno hopes and believes the Wolverines are getting closer in that quest, but he also knows this — building an offensive line isn't a one-year proposition. "We feel very good about our depth," Drevno said. "At the same time, we're going to graduate four guys next year, so we're going to have to get some linemen in this class. "But right now we're very functional. I feel good about our depth, especially with guys like [redshirt junior] David Dawson being there, [redshirt freshman] Nolan Ulizio really coming along in the spring. [Redshirt junior] Pat Kugler has done a nice job, [redshirt sopho- more] Juwann Bushell-Beatty has really upped his game. All of them have gotten better, so it is exciting with their development." But it's especially nice to have a veteran group back led by fifth- year seniors Erik Magnuson, Ben Braden and Kyle Kalis, as well as two-year starter Mason Cole, a junior, sliding from left tackle to center. And because Drevno isn't afraid to start true freshmen, which he proved in 2014 when three of them started on his line at USC, the competition should become even fiercer with the addition of a stellar, highly rated trio coming in this fall. There's nothing like experience, though, and between the four re- turning starters there's plenty of it. The four have notched 103 starts between them, and all elevated their games this spring, according to Drevno. Kalis (6-5, 305) played how a guy with a line-leading 29 starts to his credit should, the coach said. The former prep five-star could be in line for a breakout season after earning third-team All-Big Ten honors from the media and honorable mention accolades from the conference coaches. "There was a young man I coached at Stanford who didn't start until his fifth year and came into his own," Drevno said. "You see it all the time. They come to a point in time where it's their last year, Something to Prove Offensive Line Returns Plenty Of Experience, But It Still Has Room For Improvement Fifth-year senior guard Kyle Kalis was named third-team All-Big Ten by the media last year while the coaches gave him honorable mention honors. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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