This Week's Obsession: O-Line Opinion

This Week's Obsession: O-Line Opinion

Submitted by Seth on July 17th, 2013 at 1:11 PM

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The mustaches need work / Fuller

Welcome back to the weekly feature in which people on the internet say things (every blog must have at least one). The lineup, and their credentials:

LT: Sr/9th Brian Cook. Not an NFL flight risk: Stayed in school for two degrees then started a blog rather than move on.

RT: Sr/5th Seth Fisher. Pre-Season Publications All-American, named to IPPY Watch List

RG: So/Jr Ace Anbender. JUBLO transfer.

C: So/So Heiko Yang. 1st Team All-Press Conference 2012

LG: Jr/Sr Mathlete. Led Big Ten in PANcakes. (ha!)

OL: Fr/Fr Blue in South Bend. Consensus 5-star to Moderator Sticky Page

And the question:

Time to make a prediction that will make you look stupid in a few weeks when we have practice reports: Your best guess for Michigan's O-line two-deep versus CMU, and the starting OL versus OSU, with reasoning.

Seth: So long as the gods have been properly tickled, the tackles are Lewan and Schofield with lots of obviously. Seniors, longtime starters, are hardly ever responsible for sacks, best OTs in the conference, despise donkeys, yada.

The interior is kind of a bitch to predict at this moment. Right guard seems to be Kalis's to lose. Regarding the momentary "omigod he's behind Burzynski" panic in early spring, my going theory is the coaches don't like giving away starting positions (Jim Bollman: take note), and Michigan's tiny walk-on erstwhile sixth lineman was instructed to give the five-star freshman a run for his money.

The other starting spots are going to the best two of Glasgow, Miller, and Braden, and at the conclusion of spring practice I felt that was the extremely tenuous order. Given their relative upsides and who did the recruitin' it's even money for Braden to emerge as a starter somewhere by season's end, even if he's not at the start. Gun to my head: the CMU starters are Glasgow-Miller-Kalis, with Braden the first guy in if any offensive lineman goes down (if it's Miller, Glasgow will slide over to center, and I already mentioned the tackles), and by OSU Braden is playing, if not for an injury than for Miller.6 - IMG_9104

From there I think it's a pecking order more than a two-deep. If a tackle goes down, the surviving one is the left tackle and Ben Braden is the RT. The nominal two-deep guys will be Magnuson (tackle) and Burzynski (interior) early in the season, with Burzynski passed by Chris Bryant--I'm not and Blake Bars as the year progresses. Redshirt all the freshmen and sort 'em out next year.

Blue in South Bend: Now, I'm no expert, but I'd agree that three of the spots are locked down, with Lewan and Schofield at the tackles and Kalis at RG. I tend to think Miller is the heavy favorite at center as well; Burzynski is too short, Glasgow is too tall, and Miller has been the heir apparent for two full seasons. The real battle will be at LG, and I'll punt on that because I think the coaches will punt as well. No disrespect to the Chips, but it seems like the kind of game where Braden and Glasgow can both get plenty of run. Last year "OMG Mealer is gonna start at center" was a cataclysmic deal because Bama. This year, anything short of a true freshman starting will be met with a "huh, that's interesting."  Braden and Glasgow will be listed as co-starters, so flip a coin and Ben Braden gets the first snap.

As far as a two-deep, pretty much what Seth said; Braden slides outside if a tackle goes down, followed by Magnuson. The Glasgow/Braden loser is the first in at guard, and Burzynski backs up center (where he got a lot of snaps during the spring game). The wild card is Chris Bryant. He had a pretty solid recruiting profile coming in, and insider reports indicate that he remains a large, large man. We outsiders literally know nothing about him at this point, though, so focus all your Ouija board questions on this man. The Meat God shall have to wait, as the freshmen redshirt.

Long-term, I think Braden wins the LG spot based mostly on upside, but that's just a guess. Two things to keep an eye on. The first is whether anyone shows an ability to pull. Kyle Kalis didn't look great in the spring game when asked to pull, so unless everything is going to be a zone blocking scheme (or a counter or wham concept or something to get the outside blockers moving), anyone who shows that particular club in his bag will have a big leg up. The second is whether anyone is particularly reliable in passing situations (a concern I had with Braden after the spring game). Protect the Devin, or sit thee on the pine forthwith.

Fuller - 8359942880_04ff85039b_oHeiko:

LT: Lewan, Schofield, rapture
LG: Braden, Glasgow, Bryant, (Bosch)
C: Miller, Glasgow, Burzynski
RG: Kalis, Glasgow, Burzynski
RT: Schofield, Braden, Magnuson

Few things: As far as I know, Braden has locked down the LG spot for some time, so you can go ahead and use ink. I included Bosch in parentheses because he got a lot of good practice buzz. I hear he's developmentally ahead of Bars. Not that it means he'll play this season, but you can get excited for whenever the official "ass-kicking OL" era starts. Bryant [right: Fuller] is working his way back into playing shape after his leg injury. At the conclusion of spring he was a viable backup, which is a great sign considering he's still convalescent. He and Bosch and the other young bucks should will probably compete for guard opposite Kalis next year when Braden finds a home outside. And I agree with Seth: Kalis is probably going to be Michigan's RG a long, long time.

By the time OSU comes to town, unless there's an injury (please let there be no injuries) the starters should still be the same. Bryant may slip ahead of Glasgow for LG backup? Maybe?

I don't think this line is ready to clobber people between the tackles just yet. The appearance of running lanes will probably still be few and far between. Pass protection should be okay, though, and keeping Devin's jersey clean is really all we can ask for.

BiSB: I do worry that Rapture and DOOOOM are higher on the depth chart at tackle than anywhere besides QB and maybe safety. That said, there is at least a little bit of a buffer with Braden and Magnuson, though I think the latter could really use another year before entering the fray. If you compare the line depth with, say, Michigan State (or to Michigan in the alternate universe where Lewan declared for the draft), you have to feel a little better about life. State's O-line reminds me of pufferfish sashimi: if absolutely everything goes JUST RIGHT, then, hey, tasty fish. If even one thing goes wrong, though, neurotoxin and you're gonna have a bad time.

Heiko: We're not sitting here going into fall camp with 9 guys on scholarship like some people are.

Brian: Y'all need to file that guy from last week under "haterz" and moveon,org you guys. We'll have an official knighting ceremony after some beers and I'll change all your usernames to Sir Ace, Sir Seth, etc., thus communicating to haterz that you come anointed from on high.

Anyway: starting tackles are obvious. Kalis is obvious. I'm a little surprised that Braden has "locked down" a spot according to Heiko, but Heiko knows some things these days. I was just going on what Michigan did in the spring game, where Graham Glasgow started and played all three interior spots, getting more snaps than just about anyone that day. That signaled he was the leader at LG to me; if Heiko's information is accurate that signals that Glasgow is the #6 lineman, full stop. If a tackle goes out, Braden moves outside and Glasgow comes in. If anyone else goes out, Glasgow comes in.

Speaking of, depth charts like Heiko put out above are not quite right. Michigan is clearly in the group of teams that have a starting five and then want two or three linemen who back up everywhere in reserve. Assuming Miller holds on to the starting spot, a line from left to right of Lewan, Braden, Miller, Kalis and Schofield is backed up by Glasgow, Magnuson, and... uh... Bosch? Bryant? A true freshman not yet on campus?

I'm pretty confident that Glasgow will be a decent player if forced into the lineup, but once you get past him things get a little dodgy. While Michigan has options, I'd be a lot more confident if any of them other than Bryant were, like, upperclass-ish. Like the defense, it feels like Michigan needs one more year before the depth charts are overflowing with hype and experience.

I don't see any changes between CMU and OSU that aren't injury-forced unless Kugler arrives on a bolt of thunder, Rimington in hand already.

All, non-Brian: Sheath thy blade and spare thy tallow, your majesty; a simple raise shall suffice.