The Wolverine

May 2014 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 45 of 153

BY JOHN BORTON B rady Hoke stressed that his offensive linemen improved over the course of Michi- gan's 15 spring practices. He did not mention the desperate need for such a direction, and his players required no additional spotlighting. They understand the numbers bet- ter than anyone. Despite quarterback Devin Gard- ner 's prowess in scrambling away from defenders, the Wolverines still finished No. 103 nationally in rush- ing offense (125.7 yards per game) last fall. They still wound up at the bottom of the heap in tackles for loss allowed (113). That can't happen anymore. Hoke insists on it, offensive line coach Dar- rell Funk agrees, and new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has installed simpler blocking schemes to facilitate progress. All that, and Michigan's wave of blocking under- classmen are growing up a little more every day. They cringe at the 2013 totals more than the most frustrated fan. "You can't ignore it," redshirt soph- omore right guard Kyle Kalis said. "The past is the past. Me personally, it's definitely a motivator. I want to be a better player than I was last year. There were some things I did at the end of the year that I thought were really good and the coaches thought were really good, but obviously it is nowhere near enough. "We didn't beat Ohio, and we didn't achieve the goals we wanted to and everything. I can't speak for everyone, but for me, it definitely is." He has plenty of company. The old hands on the line — tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield — are long gone. Now, Michigan is sorting out the younger players to fashion what needs to be an improved line going forward. A relatively young 2013 line just got younger. Unless fifth-year senior walk-on Joey Burzynski comes back from injury to claim a starting spot, the Wolverines won't feature a single senior up front. It's not that difficult to envision an entire line composed of freshmen and sophomores, eligi- bility-wise. U-M's blockers won't be carded be- School Of Hard Knocks The Offensive Line Is Growing Up Together

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