Behold the glory that is OL depth

Submitted by AC1997 on January 10th, 2013 at 11:32 AM

With the wonderfully surprising news of Lewan’s return I thought a quick post to celebrate the glory of a real depth chart at the offensive line for the first time in what seems like forever. 

Note – I’m making a few assumptions just to illustrate this.  Obviously if Lewan were to miss a game they would probably shift things around so the best available back-up comes in and Schofield moves to LT.   I’m also making the assumption that Bryant wins the starting job at RG even though I think that is the one position where things are totally up in the air. 


  1. Lewan & Schofield
  2. Braden & Magnuson
  3. Fox & Tuley-Tillman


  1. Kalis & Bryant
  2. Bars & Burzynski
  3. Bosch & Dawson


  1. Miller
  2. Glasgow/Burzynski
  3. Kugler

I honestly hope that a 6’1” walk-on doesn’t end up having to play a lot of guard, but I don’t want to sell Burzynski short since he clearly did some good things this past year.  If I were him, I would work all summer on learning to snap the ball and getting in the mix to be a back-up center.   You can live with a 6’1” center and there’s a potential opportunity on the depth chart. 

I also wonder if Magnuson or Braden could be an option at RG if they’re truly one of the 5 best guys.  I suppose a long-shot option would be to put Braden at RT and move Schofield back to RG. 

RIP horrific looking depth charts that feature true-freshmen in the 2-deep. 

Also, Magnus has a full depth chart prediction on his site right now:




January 10th, 2013 at 11:53 AM ^

Because Bryant is a massive human being who supposedly was doing well in camp prior to breaking his tibia.  Assuming he recovers fully, he's the third most experienced guy on the roster, has had more time to develop physically, and to learn the system.  Odds are he's in the top 5 you want on the field, which means Schofield retains the RT slot and Kalis takes the other guard slot (Lewan of course handles LT).

If Bryant is ready to go, it makes no sense to make a reliable RT go through yet another posistion switch.  


January 10th, 2013 at 11:47 AM ^

If I were a betting man I'd think Kugler can beat out Glasgow and Burzynski for the #2 spot by the end of fall camp.  I think he'll challenge Miller for the starting spot by the end of the year.  I think the only thing holding him back would be the knowledge of line adjustments.


January 10th, 2013 at 12:36 PM ^

Think of it this way... 10% ABU, right? 17.99/6= 2.99/ Bottle. $2.99 per 10%

Bud Light/Miller light...4.2% I believe... 6.99/6= 1.17/Bottle.    $1.17 per 4.2%

You need 2.38 times more BL than Hop Slam to ingest the same amount of Alcohol content...

2.38 * 6.99 = $16.64 as opposed to the 17.99 for Craft Beer brewed in MICHIGAN!


Plus Hopslam tastes better too.


January 10th, 2013 at 12:03 PM ^

Schofield was LG, not RG. He played beside Taylor. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if Kugler starts from Day 1. From all accounts he was a flat out stud in the all-star game.


January 10th, 2013 at 12:09 PM ^

Best thing about depth is that you get 2-3 guys fighting it out for the starting spot so you know the starter has earned it and has real potential... rather than one guy, no matter how "average" getting the start because there are no other options.

At Center:   Miller, Bars, or Kugler

At RG:   Bryant or Bosch

Whoever starts against CMU isn't set for 14 games... it will be a battle all season for these guys.  That will make them better, meaner, and hungrier.

In 2014, Hoke should  just throw all 13 of his 4-5 star OL into a Thunderdome and see which 5 walk out.   I bet BTN would pick it up and show it in early August.  


January 10th, 2013 at 12:18 PM ^

I'm looking forward to finding our running game again under these starters. Next year our backs first contact will be the linebackers after a 3-4 yard gain instead of running into our own linemen being thrown back into them.


January 10th, 2013 at 12:26 PM ^

Remember the first snap of the first game this year, when their OL pushed back our DL off the ball a whole yard with a loud WHUMP?

I hope that will be our OL next year.


January 10th, 2013 at 12:26 PM ^

that Braden will start at right tackle and make that his position for a very long time. Don't have the link, but look at his picture from the Big House Barbeque and consider those who believe he is under rated.  

Lucky Socks

January 10th, 2013 at 12:27 PM ^

Does anybody else think Kugler could step in and start from Day 1?  

At center you don't need to have the same physical "rediness" as you do tackle or guard.  He's already bigger, and can't be much weaker (if at all) than Jack Miller.  Sure, he'll need to master the mental and technique part of the game but his situation makes it reasonable.  His technique is already very good.  

Let's say Hoke or Funk give him a call and tells him to come ready to be in the mix for the starting nod.  He watches tons of flim as a center, begins working with Pops on some center specific stuff, and hones his technique.  Arrives in Ann Arbor in May ready to continue to build his body and workout with his teammates.  Strong fall camp, and I think he could be our guy.   We all agree that his potential is greater than that of Jack Miller.  His pedigree could help him be a better option to start sooner rather than later.

Ultimately I think and hope that Jack Miller earns the job and plays well.  I just wouldn't be surprised to see Kugler in there from Day 1.  


January 10th, 2013 at 12:29 PM ^

I would also expect that Kugler rockets up the depth chart faster than any other freshmen based on his position, his talent, his physical development, and his background.  I think as such he'll probably burn his red-shirt next year. 

He could even get in the mix at RG if he's as good as we think.  However, I would expect that Miller gets every chance to succeed before they turn to Kugler.  Miller has a good reputation and is a true-center who's been in the system for two years already.  The only knock against him is size, which we'll now have at every other position on the line. 

I have high hopes for Miller.....but I do wonder why he didn't get any playing time at center this year given that Mealer wasn't having a stellar year. 


January 10th, 2013 at 12:39 PM ^

I'm a huge fan of Kugler, and I think he's gonna be one of the best linemen of all the star prospects we've taken recently, but if they didn't burn Kalis redshirt despite the glaring need for a better Guard in 2012 then they won't burn Kuglers just to do it. Jack Miller could also be a good to great center. 


January 10th, 2013 at 12:42 PM ^

"I have high hopes for Miller.....but I do wonder why he didn't get any playing time at center this year given that Mealer wasn't having a stellar year. "

- I honestly believe this is due to Coach Hoke's loyalty to upper classmen...


January 10th, 2013 at 3:13 PM ^

Let's think about how reasonable it is for Hoke to bench a superior player, sacrifice a lot of the team's hardwork, all for the sake of 'loyalty'.

Furthermore, when a player went down - Burzynski was the guy that came in, not Miller.  It could just as easily have been Miller at OC (with Mealer sliding over), but it wasn't.  The coaches were frustrated with the OL but didn't make changes because they didn't trust any of the backups to provide an upgrade.


January 11th, 2013 at 11:33 AM ^

coaches.  Hoke has shown a willingness to get young talent on the field where they prove they belong, particularly at LB. 


But, that said isn't Oline and area where expereince really makes a difference?  So I'm not sure I would call it loyalty as much as the staff believing that the experienced OL would play better than the newbies.

Perkis-Size Me

January 10th, 2013 at 1:13 PM ^

I am sure kugler will be great for us, but i feel like you should never want a true freshman on the line. they need that redshirt year to learn the system and develop.


January 10th, 2013 at 1:34 PM ^

How about guys like Ben Pliska, Dan Gibbs, Kristian Mateus and Erik Gunderson? Are any of these guys expected to contribute anytime in the future or are they just roster fillers?


January 10th, 2013 at 2:15 PM ^

Yes, it is great that our scholarship numbers are up on the OL, but most (if not all) of the freshman are going to red-shirt, so they're not really contributing to functional depth. (Especially true if the walk-ons are as good as people want them to be.)

There's 8 non-freshman scholarship players, only one more than last year. We lose 3, gain 4 -- not a big change.  A true freshman could help, and we now have 5 instead of 4, but that doesn't move the needle dramatically.  Furthermore, when you consider that most of these guys haven't played yet, there's a decent chance that one or two are going to be busts who can't perform at a Mealer/Burzynski level.  Finally, Michigan has been extremely lucky with avoiding OL injuries the last few years.  As soon as the first injury hits - we're back to where we were - an injury away from some significant problems.  Not Denard to Bellomy problems, but problems nonetheless.

Regarding who starts:  I don't think shifting Schofield back to guard is a longshot at all. They'll put the best 5 on the field. I'm guessing it's 3 guys battling for 2 starting spots:  Braden, Bryant, and Kalis.

At center, I think there is a lot of uncertainty.  Burzynski will start ahead of Miller, is my guess.  Not likely, but Kugler could be the rare true freshman starter, given the alternatives.  If all 3 of the above are playing up to their talent levels, they might even try Kalis at C.  One thing is clear:  Miller didn't earn the coach's trust in '12.  Maybe that will change, maybe it won't.



January 10th, 2013 at 4:02 PM ^

Mat -

I need to disagree with you on your depth comment.  You're right that we replaced 3 graduating players with 4 redshirt freshmen......but we also added 5 (and possibly 6) true freshmen.  Look at it this way.....

In 2012 if someone on the OL got hurt they would bring in a walk-on in Burzynski and then be forced to shift all of the positions around to make sure he played guard.  If a second injury happened we would be forced to play a true freshman. 

In 2013 if someone on the OL gets hurt we still have Burzynski but we also have THREE back-ups who have been in the program for at least a year and can play multiple positions.  (Braden, Bars, Magnuson if you assume Kalis and Bryant start).  Before we even have to consider playing a true freshman just about the entire starting OL would have to go down with an injury.  And even then, you could pick the most college-ready of the numerous freshmen. 



January 10th, 2013 at 4:17 PM ^

I don't think that's really a big deal.  Many of our players are flexible, which is why you saw Schofield, Mealer, and Barnum all move around in the starting lineup.  And next year - most of these guys haven't had a chance to get settled at any one spot yet, so they shouldn't be too affected if they flip from LG to RG for example.

Re: 2012 -  Bryant was hurt and you forgot about Miller.  What you said about playing a true freshman is only partially true because of injury to Bryant.  If you compare pre-injury depth charts to post-injury depth charts, they will always look better. 

  • scholarship backups as of spring 2012:  Bryant, Miller,
  • scholarship backups as of spring 2013:  Braden, Bars, Magnuson

That's a difference of one - and (again) none of those guys have played a down of college football yet.  So their usefullness is unclear.

To put it another way - Michigan was very lucky to only have 1 injury this year and it was to a backup.  Their starters (5th year seniors, all) stayed healthy.  Injuries in 2013 will probably have more of a detrimental impact.

I get what you're saying, and it is nice to see the numbers be replenished, but we're not going to have significantly more OL depth until 2014 at the earliest.  After next year we only our two tackles, and we bring in 5 or 6 guys.  Even after some attrition there should be at least 10 scholarship players, plus a nice crop of veteran preferred walk-ons.  We're not there yet though.  The 2013 line is still going to be thin, and it's going to be extremely inexperienced on the interior.  Huge that Lewan is back - HUGE - but OL is still an issue.




January 10th, 2013 at 2:45 PM ^

I don't get all the "Kugler playing a a true freshmen talk."  Does anyone here honestly want an undersized true freshmen playing arguably the most important position on the line?  Miller most likely didnt play last year due to lack of size, and Kugler would have the same problem.  If anything, Bosch is probably closer to playing time than him,  But again, Kalis didnt play as a Frosh, I doubt any of the incoming guys will


January 10th, 2013 at 3:02 PM ^

"Miller didn't play last year due to lack of size."  Dubious.  Miller is listed at only 7 or 8 pounds less than Burzynski and Barnum and weighs more than Molk did when he played.

OC is more about brains than brawn.   Given the last minute switch of Mealer to OC and Burzynski being the first sub into OL, it's safe to say the coaches weren't real comfortable with Miller and I don't think it was size-related.

Kalis didn't play, but might have if he was needed.  The thing was he was behind 3 seniors on the OL interior, plus a capable walk-on. Kugler will be behind 3 guys who've scarcely played a down.  Similar backgrounds, very different circumstances.

I agree it's not necesserily likely that Kugler plays and even less likely that he starts, but if Michigan takes a 6th OL or a viable starter at OC doesn't emerge it would make some sense.

Finally, if weight matters to you; Kugler is only listed 8 pounds lighter than Miller - not an insurmountable difference.


January 10th, 2013 at 3:30 PM ^

Its likely kugler is closer to what the coaches want at center than miller, who they did not recruit I believe. On that  we can both agree. But Miller has been in the system a few years and has a jump on kugler. Kugler is most likely our long term center. But the idea of a true freshman playing there should scare everyone.  I think Miller and Burzynski both get a crack at it before Kugler like you said,  and yes, I am concerned like you that Miller couldnt beat out Mealer last year.   I think Bars might even get a shot there.  Center might be the most contested spot on the line.  Or they might decide Miller is the guy.  But whatever happens, Kugler wil hopefully redshirt and take over duties after that.


January 10th, 2013 at 4:22 PM ^

I do agree Miller is more likely to start than Kugler.  Certainly the coaches would prefer Kugler to be red-shirted.  I also agree that guys like Bars will get a shot. (and Burzynski, maybe others...)

The only reason a true freshman is in the conversation is that no one has proven to be a viable replacement.  There's not much evidence that Miller is the man (though there is much fan optimism, I believe it's based mostly on wishful thinking.)  There isn't an identified backup either.  So, it's wide open and will be contested, as you said.

When you have a highly touted freshman recruit at a position of need, it's natural to think he might be used.