The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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22 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW M Erik Magnuson has heard it all, and he's only going into his third season in a winged helmet. Michigan's 2013 struggles on the offen- sive line opened the doors to non-stop commentary in an era of social media, and it's unavoidable. While the redshirt sophomore professes to not let all the noise bother him too much, he's ready to move forward in a strong way in 2014. Talk aside, the Wolverines at that position and others know they've got a job to do, and do better, come fall. "I don't know if there has been an offensive line at Michigan that has had so much critique or criticism," Magnuson said. "I look back, and I'm glad I got the experience. But as an offensive line at the University of Michigan, we've got a standard to uphold. We didn't uphold that standard. "The good thing about last year is, a lot of young guys got experi- ence. We can use that as a positive moving forward, since we've all got game experience now and it's out of our system. Now we can just focus on getting better and helping this team by doing our job as Michigan offensive linemen." His position coach, Darrell Funk, urges his linemen to shut out everything coming from outside. Despite that, Funk fully concurs regarding the Wolverines making improvements, and whatever spurs them to do so shouldn't be discounted. "In athletics, whether you're talking Michigan football, the NBA, horse racing — I don't care what it is — by signing up for this, at this level, you sign up for criticism," Funk assured. "You never can really shut it down, especially in this day and age of social media with these guys looking at their Twitter accounts. It's just part of it. "Now, the ability to filter it a little bit and use it for motivation, that's a guy-by-guy situation. Some players and coaches who were hit hardest by criticism, that can be a strong motivator. "I'd like to have guys who aren't reliant on that to motivate them. But it's a human factor. I'm a huge sports fan in all avenues. I listen to these athletes deal with the criticism. Some use it, and want to prove you wrong. Some block it out completely." Whatever the individual approach with regard to criticism, pointed out wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski, the Wolverines have to fo- cus on individual and collective improvement. Yes, he acknowledged, Michigan stood only a few plays away from perhaps enjoying a much better record. They cannot count on that line of thinking, he noted. Their focus has to be on the improvements needed to make the plays. "Don't make four plays, and it's a non-bowl team," Hecklinski offered. "That goes both ways. You listen to Coach, and what Coach has hung his hat on is we've got to change. "We were four plays away. So now what do I do differently to make sure those plays are made? That's what I'm talking about — that challenge, that energy. The energy Doug [Nussmeier] has brought, and the challenge that Coach has put out to each one of us." Hecklinski gives great credit to head coach Brady Hoke for step- ping up and taking responsibility for issues, and for triggering changes that can alter the outcomes going forward. "Words are played on all the time in the media," Hecklinski said. "But when Coach says, 'I have to do a better job of coaching, and in turn I expect my coaches to do a better job of coaching,' that's exactly what he's saying. Repeating history? That's not acceptable. "We understand what took place. Now you have to look back on it and say, what are you going to do differently to make sure history doesn't repeat itself? What are you going to change, whether it be a little thing or a big thing? Obviously, Coach made a big change. So now what are you doing, individually, now to make sure history doesn't repeat itself. That's what he's talking about." Magnuson, and the other Wolverines, heard those messages loudly and clearly. The other ones? Yes, they heard a few of them, too. But as far as the messages that insist Michigan is doomed to reprise its disappointment of 2013, the young lineman brushes that off pretty quickly. "People can say what they want in the preseason," Magnuson observed. "They can say how bad we're going to be, but when does anybody ever rank 25 teams and they're right at the end of the sea- son? Let them say what they want to say. We'll prove who we are come this season. "If someone was able to see the work this team has put in, I think a lot of people would change their opinions about what the season is going to be. I have all the confidence in the world." Redshirt sophomore Erik Magnuson (No. 78) and redshirt junior Graham Glasgow look to respond to U-M's critics on the field this season. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS Wolverines Don't Lack Motivation In 2014 8,10-12,14-28,30-32.IMA.indd 22 6/19/14 5:01 PM

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