The Lewan Effect

Submitted by Brian on January 10th, 2013 at 3:52 PM


hey this can probably work

I had assumed Lewan's departure was so much of a foregone conclusion that I didn't even bother to hang around the computer last night when he announced and only found out once I flipped on the Nebraska game. Derpity-doo.

In any case, I don't have to tell you how huge his return is for Michigan next year. Without him, Michigan was replacing four starters on the OL with at least two freshmen. With him, they return two solid-to-All-American tackles and only have to find three new guys.

In addition, Lewan's return gives Michigan flexibility. Michael Schofield was a quality player at guard last year and could return there if necessary. That allows Michigan to let Ben Braden and Erik Magnuson compete for starting jobs. Team 134 now has to find three starters out of this group:

CENTERS: Jack Miller, Patrick Kugler
GUARDS: Kyle Kalis, Chris Bryant, Kyle Bosch, Blake Bars, Joey Burzynski
TACKLES: Erik Magnuson, Ben Braden

Even if you dismiss Burzynski as a walk-on—not necessarily wise—that is eight candidates for the three spots, seven of whom will compete in spring. The eighth, Kugler, is the son of Sean Kugler, until recently the Steelers' OL coach and now the head man at UTEP. If ever there is a guy who will be ready to play center as a freshman it'll be him.

Remove Lewan and you not only force Braden* in to the starting lineup ready or not, you likely remove Magnuson from the conversation. Moving guys around is a lot less possible when you've got one guy standing between you and walk-ons at tackle. Then you're trying to get someone out of Bosch/Bars/Burzynski/Bryant. That's doable, but Lewan is not only an All-American coming back but two extra bullets for the holes Michigan has to fill. High five.

The starting line above is four touted recruits and four kids who are entering at least their third year in the program. Behind them they'll have options in case they aren't working out. It's kind of a big deal.


[Note: I'll redo "27 tickets" after Signing Day.]

*[Speculation based on insider buzz has Braden ahead of Magnuson, FWIW. As always take insider buzz lightly.]



January 10th, 2013 at 7:55 PM ^

Brian suggests we take insider buzz lightly. Perhaps people should take Brian lightly because he isn't an insider or closely connected to insiders. If he was more of his major predictions would be validated. Why so many people value his opinion demonstrates how easy it is to dupe the masses. Doesn't anyone remember "zero point zero"?


January 10th, 2013 at 11:56 PM ^

I saw the post before.  It was critical of Brian, but in a professional way, not a personal one.  I am surprised that mods would delete it.  

Although I didn't agree with the now-deleted comment, which questioned whether Brian had reliable insider sources, it would be better to have a discussion on the topic and have the comment disproved than to censor it.  Blogs are simply no fun if those who visit are prohibited from sharing a unique viewpoint.

Perhaps the mods or the original commenter could explain what they think happened, and why?


January 13th, 2013 at 1:18 AM ^

but I hadn't seen this before. He was caved at some point (I'm not able to see when), most likely not with this comment. I took a second to look at some of his past posts, and literally every post he'd written was criticism of Brian, with some crossing the line into personal territory.

I don't want to sound like I'm just towing the company line or anything, but I can definitely picture a comment or two that went too far judging by history. I would also add that, personally, I'll never take negative action as a result of a civil disagreement (I'd like to think that I can speak for profit on this matter as well), but I always try to quickly intervene if something gets personal, even if it is Brian we're talking about.


January 11th, 2013 at 1:08 AM ^

So we're all excited Lewan's coming back, but how will this affect our awful running game? Will our great OL turn an average RB into a great RB? It would be nice to hear some folks weigh in on this. I would hate for our excellent OL to be wasted without a strong RB weapon to take advantage of the holes they make.


January 11th, 2013 at 3:27 PM ^

A simply above average OL at Iowa last year with no passing game turned a sixth-string fullback who runs something like a 3-hour 40 yard dash into a 5.1YPC feature back who ran for 900 yards and 8 touchdowns last year. 


Basically, Weisman was Thomas Rawls. If you can imagine Rawls becoming the leading rusher on the team last year, that's the difference between a bad and an above average line. If Fitz played for Alabama last year, he would've looked like TJ Yeldon. That's the difference between above average and outstanding.


January 11th, 2013 at 1:10 AM ^

Just because a Freshman doesn't play over an upperclassman, doesn't necessarily mean that said Freshman isn't as good, or better than the player in front of him, or that he won't be better than that upperclassman was during this season, the following season after he grows and develops. Not all teams automatically field the best players on their team, especially when it comes to schools like Michigan where it's hard for Freshman to see the field anyway. I could give a slew of exam of this, but you guys are pretty knowledgeable, that's why I read the comments, so I bet you could think of quite a few on your own. This season Michigan came into the season with Denard at QB, Devin at WR and Thomas Rawls at RB. Also, Brady Hoke and Al Borges were still primarily running and offense that they basically were forced into running given the skillset of their dynamic QB. An offense that was probably at least carried 80% of the time by Denard, pass or run. That being said, the linemen used had experience with the RichRod read option blocking schemes AND with the QB running attack out of the gun that Borges ran (far less read option). A lot of the plays if not designed Denard runs, were run/pass options that require good pass protection (something our line, while not up to historical UofM standards, was pretty dang good at. Just watch The Outback Bowl against the best pass rush in the country.). Factoring all of that in, along with the fact that the main purpose these underclassmen were recruited was to be a road grating line of Hogs that would clear 4 yards out for anybody that ran behind them, and I could easily see why Hoke and Borges didn't go baptism by fire and burn up all types of eligibility, when they thought they could make due without doing so. Starting those kids out in this past scheme would likely help them develop some bad tendencies that would tough to remedy for the upcoming style of play. The best players don't always get the highest spot on the depth chart. I don't think Rawls was the 2nd best back on our team this year, I think Vincent Smith would've been more affective. Russell Bellomy wasn't the 2nd best QB on the team. Devin Gardner wasn't even the 3rd best WR. If Derrick Green commits, I would easily call him the best back on our team, but I'd bet dollars to donuts that if Fitz makes it all the way back, he'll be taking the opening day snaps. Hell, Denard wasn't even the best QB on the team! Yes, he was our most dangerous and versatile offensive weapon, and in college football putting those guys at QB is the best laid plan sometimes... But Devin is obviously the better QB, as evidenced by his performance against South Carolina in just his what, 5th start??? Look what Denard did against a similar Alabama D or that overrated ND D after nearly 2 full seasons of starting. Take it down a notch. Kalis, Bosch, Braden, etc. will be just fine come Aug/Sep.


January 11th, 2013 at 4:24 AM ^

I agree with most of your points, but I have to say that I think the line will probably be rounding into shape around November. I think the early part of the season will see them struggle mightily.

Miller has no game experience, so it will be interesting to see how correct his line calls will be. Mealer wasn't a horrible blocker this season, but he was sub-par with his calls. The bad news: it can be worse. Let's hope that's not the case.

Bryant is entering his third year, but he has no game experience. And, frankly, he has had relatively few practice reps. He missed all year with a major injury, so he didn't even run with the twos. Most of his practice reps came a year ago on the scout team. Those guys aren't even coached up that well during the season. Also, he's coming off an injury, and as a guy with a history of weight problems, he could come back too big.

Kalis is even more raw. He is the most physically gifted of the three and will be fine by season's end, but I expect him to look pretty bad early on. This would be ok if he were working next to either a more seasoned or larger center. But Miller is smallish and will need his help on the nose quite often, we won't be able to hide him as much.

This is all assuming Bryant can play, which is not something I'm sure about. The coaches wanting to bring in 6 guys means that they either think so highly of one that they plan to not redshirt him, thereby not having too many guys in one class, creating a logjam and potentially forcing one out the door, or they are really unsure about a current player. Bryant could be that guy, if for no other reason than injury.

SC Wolverine

January 11th, 2013 at 7:55 AM ^

These comments bear out the title of Brian's piece, "The Lewan Effect."  Instead of discussing whether or not our O-Line will be even competent next year, we are debating whether or not they will be dominant.  Thanks, Taylor!  That's a big effect.