Way too Early Preview: 2014 OL

Submitted by mgobaran on January 3rd, 2014 at 9:32 AM

I really couldn't decide if I should name this thread "way too early preview" or "what everyone will be bitching about next fall," but as you can tell, I went with the former.

It is evident, as pointed out in the offense optimism thread, that we have the great skill at the skill position. We have a 5th year Senior at Quarterback (and a backup who won't scare the bejesus out of us), with a year and a half of starting experience. 2 really young, high potential RBs, and some legit WRs who, for the first time since Manningham, have the ability to dust off the old #1. And the TE's. Oh my those TE's.

But, as we saw this year, one position group can derail the entire offense. That is why the OL will have the biggest impact on the 2014 football season, probably Hoke & Co.'s job security, and most importantly, our SANITY! So let's get to what we have. (I am leaving off all incoming Freshman because "is OL, will RS")

Eric Magnuson (6 starts @ Guard, 11 app)
Ben Braden (RS So.)
Chris Fox (RS Fr.) (Raw)
L. Tuley-Tillman (RS Fr.) (Raw)

Chris Bryant (2 starts @ LG, 3 app)
Kyle Kalis  (7 starts @ RG, 11 app, All-Fr. B1G)
Kyle Bosch (3 starts @ LG, 5 app)
Blake Bars (RS So.)(Raw?)
David Dawson (RS Fr.)(Raw)
Dan Samuelson (RS Fr.)(Raw)

Graham Glasgow (12 starts @ G/C, 17 app)(Kovacs-don't-refer-to-him-as-a-walk-on award winner)
Joey Burzynski (1 start, 16 app)(was walk-on)
Jack Miller (4 starts, 10 app)[small :( ]
Patrick Kugler (RS Fr.)


One thing to be sure of, there are a heck of a lot of bodies to sacrifice to the meat god. So that is good. The bad, these guys are YOUNG. Again. 35 starts between 7 guys. And remember, we can only start 5 of them! 

Anyways. To the discussion!
But first. Cat picture:

Okay really, discussion time. Kugler or Bryant NEED to step up and start. Period. If both do, then even better. And I don't mean "start because they have to start" I mean, take that job in the spring and never let it go guys. Here is my line. 

LT - Magnuson
LG - G. Glasgow
C - Kugler
RG - Kalis
RT - Braden

If it is Bryant instead of Kugler, Glasgow back to C, Bryant at LG.

Dream Scenario:
LT - Mags
LG - Bryant
C - Kugler
RG - Cat Sweater
RT - Kalis

What do you want/dream/think the OL will be next year? And are we screwed? I say I hope not...



January 3rd, 2014 at 9:48 AM ^

Wasn't that the other Glasgow in the cat sweater?

As to the topic, there's not much speculation we can make. There's talent at all the spots but they're young. Youth in itself is something that is very possible to overcome, and it will all depend on the coaches' ability to properly train them and put them in a position to succeed schematically. It seems as though, as fans, we've lost confidence in that ability in the past year. Only time will tell.

turd ferguson

January 3rd, 2014 at 9:43 AM ^

That depth chart is horrifying. Looks great for 2015 & 2016, but there are some people who deserve a firm punch in the dick for leaving us with so little experience right now. Plus, as bad as the 2013 OL was, imagine how horrendous it would have been if Lewan had gone pro as everyone expected.


January 3rd, 2014 at 9:50 AM ^

If Bryant isn't hurt his entire career, that OL doesn't look as terrifying. 2 RS Jr. OL with ~12 games starting exp. each. 2 highly rated RS So. with ~10 games starting exp. each. And you're only breaking in 1 tackle. 

So while, yes, someone does deserve a dick punching, they might not deserve as firm of one.

MI Expat NY

January 3rd, 2014 at 11:20 AM ^

We're young still, yes, but by next season it's time to stop blaming anyone but the current staff and some bad injury luck (bryant, christian pace, he'd still be around, right?).  We will have what's supposed to be a monster class in their third year, what's supposed to be a monster class in their second year and some other odd parts floating around.  If we can't put together a semi-competent line from that assortment of talent, the primary source of blame will be the staff's inability to identify and/or develop offensive line talent. 

Being great isn't a reasonable expectation, hardly any line is great year after year, but approaching good is completely reasonable.


January 3rd, 2014 at 12:43 PM ^

LSU started a true freshman at center this year that Hoke turned away (because he had filled up the class at that point on OL) -- Ethan Pocic.  And this was despite the fact that Pocic had not even played any center in high school.  Stop blaming the former regime.  It's year four for Hoke, Funk, and Al. 

turd ferguson

January 3rd, 2014 at 4:44 PM ^

I'm not blaming anyone for the poor performance of our OL in Hoke's fourth season.  Hoke's fourth season hasn't happened yet.  I'm blaming a lot of people for an absurd, crippling lack of upperclassmen on the offensive line.  If you're saying that OL experience doesn't matter because one guy on one team started one game, then I'm not sure what to say to you.  It matters.

The firmest dick punches for our lack of upperclassmen on the OL belong to the RR regime without a doubt.  They aren't the only ones, though.  Taking too long to hire Hoke could have cost us with OL recruiting in the 2011 class, so Brandon deserves some blame, and I'm not sure why we didn't end up with more offensive linemen in that class anyway (i.e. some blame for the Hoke regime, since I think it was just Bryant and that Tony Posada guy). 

I'm anxious to see some development in the guys we have, but that's not the issue we're talking about here.  The lack of experience is a combination of bad luck and terrible roster management, mostly by the group before this one.

MI Expat NY

January 3rd, 2014 at 5:35 PM ^

We all know that three classes of linemen have virtually produced only three starters (Lewan, Schofield, and Glasgow).  This is obviously less than ideal.  It's also far from an unheard of occurrence.  But, by next year, that's down to two classes that haven't produced. They're followed by classes that are supposed to be loaded with young talent.  We should be able to put together a reasonable line from what we have, even if Glasgow is the only contributing upper classmen.  

Nobody is saying that experience doesn't matter.  But it's not the only factor.  We return 36 offensive line starts.  We have young talent.  We have a couple upperclassmen that likely won't play much, but they exist.  In short, the lack of upperclassmen is no longer crippling.  If our line play is again so bad as to cripple the whole offense, I know which regime should shoulder the majority of the blame, and it isn't the last one.  

turd ferguson

January 3rd, 2014 at 6:02 PM ^

Again, I'm not making any kind of statement about how blame should be apportioned if the offensive line sucks next year.  That's silly to do now.  My point is just that it's jarring to see so little upperclass talent and depth.  Yes, we know that already, but the time when it really hits is when you look at the depth chart for the first time. 


January 3rd, 2014 at 9:45 AM ^

but I just don't see Bryant having a sustained presence on the OL in 2014... too bad, we could use a 330 lb road- grader at guard.

And Miller? I think it would take mass injury or defection for him to get on the field at this point.

Space Coyote

January 3rd, 2014 at 9:59 AM ^

Even if he's one of the better guys, maybe even a 2-deep guy, he just has too many injuries and doesn't have the experience to put him ahead of the others. I liked his upside, but you have to be able to practice each week and you have to be able to stay in the game. With so many more bodies now, and Bryant himself being behind his eligibility from the mental aspect of the game (because he simply hasn't been out there playing/practicing enough), I don't see him being put in.

Miller I think could still be a backup, depending on how Kugler is recovering and what they want to do with Glasgow, etc. I'm not sure his body can really hold more weight, which is bad news for him, and I'm pretty doubtful he sees the field, but I could see it happening in a couple scenarios. He may be a player, that if he really wants to play football, may have interest in transfering to a better fit. But if he wants to stick around and finish his Michigan degree, then more praise to him for doing that.


January 3rd, 2014 at 9:48 AM ^

One of the benefits of the depth chart besides just bodies is versatility on the interior.  That is good because it allows us to see whether Kugler/Miller can claim the center spot and move Glasgow back where he belongs or whether we have to give him another season at center due to the guards being more talented.  I think something that wasn't mentioned enough is that Glasgow was our best pulling lineman and we lost that when he moved to center.  (and we also got one bad snap per game out of him it seemed)  But the issue is tackle.  I think what is far more important than your comments about Kugler and Bryant is that Braden needs to pown the RT spot and make us forget he vanished this season.  If he locks down the tackle spot we can then put Kalis, Bosch, Glasgow, Miller, Bryant, Kugler, and Dawson into the meat grinder and see who comes out. 


January 3rd, 2014 at 11:13 AM ^

I agree completely. *Disclaimer* I'm not a football coach... The schizophrenic offensive playcalling, the most complicated and random blocking schemes in the country, and constantly juggling the lineup didn't help our young linemen last year. There were injuries, of course, but the coaches took a big problem and made it worse. Hope they don't do it again next year.


January 3rd, 2014 at 10:22 AM ^

Not only does Braden need to own that spot, but he and Magnuson need to stay healthy. There's terror when everyone behind them on the depth chart is listed as raw. Sure, Kalis could move over if necessary, but that's less than ideal.


January 3rd, 2014 at 10:33 AM ^

Right tackle doesn't concern me as much? Which is crazy because it should. This issue here is we have really only 1 guy who can play there. Ben Braden is our only hope. Whether is is great, good, or just a human. He is probably going to be plugged in, just based on the other two tackles being project players more than he is. 

So I am basically assuming that whichever side Braden plays on is going to be a weak point in this line. Even if he is really good. It will be his first starting exp, and there will be mistakes. The reason I focused on Bryant/Kugler has guys who need to step up, is that if they get into the line-up, they will have deserved it. Which IMO means they have upgraded the position on the interior over last year. It also gives you a little wiggle room to push Kalis to the outside if Braden just isn't there yet. 

I think the addition al Bryant/Kugler into the line would assure that there is only 1 weaker spot (Braden) on the OL, instead of a possible 2.


January 3rd, 2014 at 9:55 AM ^

I really couldn't decide if I should name this thread "way to early preview" or "what everyone will be bitching about next fall," but as you can tell, I went with the former.

Too bad you didn't entitle the thread "Way Too Early Preview". But maybe that would be asking too much. 



January 3rd, 2014 at 9:57 AM ^

I'm kinda tired of seeing so much emphasis being placed on Jack Miller's size (6'4/290lb) being a problem when Nebraska lists their starting center, Cole Pensick, at 275lb.  He was second-team All B1G.  First teamer Corey Linsley is only 295 IIRC.

Space Coyote

January 3rd, 2014 at 10:07 AM ^

I'm not exactly confident Miller is an honest 290, especially playing weight. You also have to look at the schemes the two teams use. There is benefit to having a lighter center for a lot of zone stretch teams, in this aspect, Miller may have gotten caught in no-man's land with his weight.

You also have to look at functional strength/weight, how it's distributed, etc. You also have to look at the OGs and their ability. For instance, if you have some solid OGs that are really great at uprooting DL, then a lighter OC can give you the benefit of working the combo to the 2nd level. But if you have to rely more on the OC taking care of business at the first level, then a lighter guy probably isn't a fit. So there's a lot that goes into it.

Pensick was also a RS Senior that was 2 inches shorter than Miller, so say the real weight difference is only 10 pounds over 2 inches plus two additional years, that's fairly significant as well.


January 3rd, 2014 at 10:00 AM ^

way for all these "way too early, etc." What about the way too early place holder position that Dileo is leaving?

Also, I bet somebody transfers from this bunch, just a hunch..hey, that rhymed...


January 3rd, 2014 at 10:02 AM ^

michigan should take another tackle this year. have 6 tackles 6 guards and 3 centers in rotation and for depth and development in the future from this year on out. is alex bars moving to center? would help create depth.  bryant is proably toast with injury bug. bosch will be a real deal i believe so yeah another tackle..idk..


January 3rd, 2014 at 10:22 AM ^

I am irrationally optimistic about next year’s line being a big step up from this year’s.  I did think that this year was going to be better because we were replacing a bad interior with young talent.  I guess I was wrong.  My optimism for next year comes from a more even distribution of experience in addition to the talent upgrade.  Sure we are losing an AA OT and another 3 year starter OT, but we aren’t replacing them with people who haven’t played at all (except one maybe).

There will be no first time starters on the interior of the OL.  I anticipate Bosch, Glasgow, and Kalis (wish he played as a true freshman).  There will be competition, but I expect it to remain intact.  The tackles will be new, but there is at least some game experience.  I will assume Mags at LT and Braden at RT.  Mags has starting experience and Braden will be a RS So rather than a RS Fr which may turn out to be a pretty big deal.

That is my optimism and I’m going to stick to it.