The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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10 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW M In 134 years of Michigan football, the Wolverines have seen 130 players go on to earn first-team All-America honors and 273 receive first-team All-Big Ten recognition (see charts for break- downs). From U-M's inaugural season in 1879 until 1965, in an era when players competed both ways, linemen accounted for 24 of the program's 51 All-America honors (47.1 percent) and 38 of 84 all-conference mentions (45.2 percent). Beginning in 1965, with the rise of separate units of players on offense and defense, offensive line became the dominant unit for the Maize and Blue; tackles, guards and centers have accounted for 26 of Michigan's 79 first-team All-Americans (32.9 percent) and 56 of 189 All-Big Ten recipients (29.6 percent). The five offensive linemen represent 20.8 percent of a team's 24 starters, including two specialists, so the rate of recognized per- formers along the offensive line is higher than expected. That should not come as a surprise, former offensive tackle Dan Dierdorf argues, noting there was a standard set by the linemen that came before him and that he would pass on to future generations after leaving in 1970. "I never walked on a football field without thinking I would absolutely destroy the guy across from me," he said. "Not just 'I'm not going to let him make a tackle' — I wanted to destroy the guy.'" That is a mindset Dierdorf, who retired from analyzing NFL games on CBS in 2013 only to agree to become Michigan's radio analyst beginning this fall, believes the Wolverines have been missing. "Having been a lineman, the one thing you could always count on regardless of the skill at wide receiver, or quarterback, or running back, was that Michigan could dominate the line of scrimmage. It has been hard to watch these last number of years where Michigan has struggled at the line of scrimmage and has lost a lot of football games at the line of scrimmage," he said. "That's where it begins. "In 2014, will we be able to compete at the line of scrimmage? Will we block better in the running game? Better protect our quarterback? And kick some butt at the line of scrim- mage? "That's a mindset that Michigan has to try to recapture." Jon Jansen knows something about dominant offensive line play. He was U-M's starting right tackle from 1995- 98 and served as captain in 1997-98, helping lead the Wolverines to the 1997 national title. He has watched the Maize and Blue struggle at historic levels up front — the 114 tackles for loss Michigan al- lowed in 2013 were a program record — and he believes it is imperative the offense establishes an identity. "We ran off-tackle," said Jansen. "It didn't matter which side — we could go off-tackle right or off-tackle left. We knew with [guard] Zach Adami and myself [on the right side] or [guard] Steve Hutchinson and [tackle] Jeff Backus on the left side, there was go- ing to be the opportunity to gain yards. "We knew every time we called that play all I had to do was fire off the ball as hard as I could, hit who- ever was in front of me. If they went inside, Zach was there to get him. If the defender went outside, I had [tight ends] Jerame Tuman and Mark Campbell to take them, and I went up to the linebacker. If they went straight, I was going to run right over him. "That is the mentality we need from the offensive line and our offense this season. They have to have that play that they know every time they run it they can get three yards. What is that one play they will call, that they have confidence in they can get three or four yards every single time?" Jansen acknowledges that confidence didn't occur overnight, with the Wolverines' linemen acquiring it through years of feeling they weren't living up to the expectations others had established. "We had a few 8-4 seasons, and everyone was talking about Steve Everitt, Joe Co- cozzo, and all these other guys that used to play. Finally we said, 'Enough is enough,'" he relayed. "'Those guys are Michigan leg- ends and we respect them, but I'm tired of hearing about them. They need to start talk- ing about us.' "I want to see that same fire in our guys. They need to talk about the guys that are there right now. When that happens, and they get that attitude, and that light goes on, it will be a good offensive line." Former Offensive Linemen Want To See Tradition Continue Left tackle Jake Long earned All-America honors in 2006 and 2007, adding to U-M's history of outstanding performers on the line. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN Positions By Accolades Pre-1965 All-America Per All-Big Ten Per Position First Team Starter* First Team Starter* Tackle 10 5.0 16 8.0 Guard 7 3.5 9 4.5 Center 7 7.0 13 13.0 End 11 5.5 19 9.5 Halfback 8 4.0 13 6.5 Fullback 4 4.0 5 5.0 Quarterback 4 4.0 8 8.0 Linebacker^ 0 0 1 1.0 *Using a lineup of two ends, two tackles, two guards, one center, one quar- terback, two halfbacks and a fullback; ^Appeared briefly from 1950-52. Positions By Accolades Since 1965 All-America Per All-Big Ten Per Position First Team Starter* First Team Starter* Offensive Line 26 5.2 56 11.2 Defensive Back 14 3.5 25 6.3 Defensive Line 11 2.8 28 7.0 Wide Receiver 8 4.0 12 6.0 Linebacker 8 2.7 23 7.7 Running Back 5 2.5 21 10.5 Tight End 3 3.0 7 7.0 Quarterback 3 3.0 10 10.0 Placekicker 1 1.0 5 5.0 Punter 0 0 2 2.0 *Using an I-Formation with two receivers, two running backs, one tight end, five offensive linemen and a quarterback; and a 4-3 defense featur- ing four defensive linemen, three linebackers and four defensive backs. 8,10-12,14-28,30-32.IMA.indd 10 6/19/14 4:57 PM

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