The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 127 of 275

126 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY JOHN BORTON M ichigan featured two 1,000-yard rushers in 2011, running behind a Rimington Award-winning center and other offensive line veterans. At first glance, the return to rushing greatness plan in Ann Arbor appeared fully on track. But plenty of personnel backfilling needed to be accomplished after that campaign, and the Wolverines are still trying to get up to speed. Last season, their leading ground gainer went for 648 yards. That has to change, head coach Brady Hoke and offensive line coach Darrell Funk have emphasized repeatedly. "We talk about it, and we have to do it," Funk stressed. "We've got to run the football." His crew works on every element in that process — from physical preparedness, to video study, to endless repetitions, to working on combination blocks, to coordinating calls and understanding everything in new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier's system. There are plenty of moving parts, but no acceptable alternatives for success on the ground, Funk insisted. "Our mindset toward running the football has to improve," Funk said. "I think it's easy, when you don't run the football great, to fall back on the screen game, play- action game, the quick-pass game. "You can't do that. We have to run the football. If there is one step, it's having the mindset that, 'I don't care if it's two yards at first, or three, or four, we're going to run the football.' "That solves everything else. If you can run the football effectively, and stay ahead of the chains, you don't get in all of those third-and- eight, third-and-10, third-and-15 situations. Obviously, some of those were penalties, the sacks, those things, but man, people lick their chops when you get in those down and distances." Michigan simply couldn't avoid negative plays and pound away on the ground enough to consistently supplement a passing game that produced almost twice as many yards (3,221 passing yards, compared to 1,634 rushing yards). That's asking for trouble, most coaches agree. Thus, Funk's insistence on overland improvement: "The way we coach it, the way we call it, the way we block it, the way we formation … we did it our first year. We flashed it some other Ready To Run Michigan's Offensive Line Stands Committed To The Ground Game OL Rush Yards Yards Year Rush Yards Total Yards Per Game Per Rush 2013 1,634 4,855 125.7 3.3 2012 2,389 4,980 183.8 4.8 2011 2,884 5,261 221.8 5.2 2010 3,101 6,353 238.5 5.6 2009 2,234 4,614 186.2 4.5 2008 1,771 3,489 147.6 3.9 2007 2,144 5,006 164.9 4.0 2006 2,282 4,820 175.5 4.3 2005 1,939 4,611 161.6 3.9 2004 1,843 4,638 153.6 3.8 Rushing Yards Year-By-Year Kyle Kalis, a redshirt sophomore, earned All-Big Ten Freshman Team honors from after starting nine games at right guard and making 12 appearances overall in 2013. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL 126-132.OLs.indd 126 6/19/14 3:15 PM

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