The Wolverine

September 2018*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 43 of 75

44 THE WOLVERINE SEPTEMBER 2018 M any of U-M's problems on offense last year started up front with the offensive line, a group some would argue hasn't been up to Michigan stan- dards in a decade. Former Michigan All-American and longtime NFL stalwart Jon Jansen, now working in the U-M athletic depart- ment and offering a weekly podcast, has been at practices the last few years, and he's seen plenty to like this season under new OL coach Ed Warinner in the early going. "Practice is going good. It's physi- cal," Jansen said while co-hosting the Karsch and Anderson Show with WXYT's Doug Karsch Aug. 6. "Ev- erybody would assume this time of year it's going to be physical … new strength coach Ben Herbert talked about the strength gains these guys have had this offseason and weight gains. It is obvious to me it is showing. "Up front, when you see these guys and their bodies take the field, you will see an absolute difference in their makeup, their attitude. When athletes get stronger, you walk around with a different swag, like nobody in this place can touch me. "That's the attitude I expect to see when they hit South Bend on Sept. 1." Michigan faces Notre Dame at 7:30 p.m. that night in the season opener. Herbert has made a huge difference, Jansen said. And while he's not pre- dicting this year's line will be elite, he is excited about its potential. "I'm not going to say this is going to be the same as we had in 1997," he clarified. "We had three first-round draft choices on that line. I don't know that they necessarily have that talent. But when I see this offensive line de- velop, I'm not seeing guys run free in the backfield; I'm not seeing the pene- tration we've seen over the last couple years for tackles for loss. "I see guys taking good steps, help- ing their buddy in combination blocks. [Junior left guard] Ben Bredeson is do- ing a great job setting up that [defen- sive] tackle for his offensive tackle to come in and get some push. Those are the types of things you expect to see from a good offensive line. "Can they be a great offensive line? I think they could. There's a long way to go between now and that point, but just those things where a guy is put- ting his hand in the right place to help his buddy … if he buries his head into that defensive lineman, he can't see the linebacker. Now all of a sudden he's got his shoulder and hand in that same position, allowing his compadre to get in there and get push, which allows him to see the linebacker." It should all help contribute to a much-improved offense, Jansen said. — Chris Balas DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR DON BROWN IDENTIFIES EARLY STANDOUTS Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown has fielded elite defenses in his first two seasons at Michigan, and this year's has the chance to be his best yet. There's experience, veterans willing to teach youngsters and more speed than he's ever had in his decades of coach- ing, he acknowledged Aug. 8. "It's nice when a lot of your top-tier guys — and a lot of them are young — can help educate the younger guys in terms of functionality, concepts, un- derstanding, those things. It's been a positive for the young guys," he said. Brown identified a number of stand- outs in the early going. Among them was junior linebacker Josh Uche, who approached Brown after the bowl game and told him he wanted more playing time. Brown told him to earn it, and he has. "He's now 241 pounds … and un- believable. We're able to play him at a number of different roles and move him around," Brown said. "A place he makes the most explosive impact is when he pass rushes. Now he's an ad- equate cover guy with the tight ends, and he's figured out the zone pieces. "He'll be integrated in several areas to make the best of his ability to rush the passer." The guy that's probably made the   MICHIGAN FOOTBALL Former Michigan All-American Jon Jansen Likes The Offensive Line's Direction Junior guard Ben Bredeson was named a unanimous All-Big Ten second-team choice last year by the media, coaches and Associated Press. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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