The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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74 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW 1. What will the offensive line look like? The Michigan offensive line was a hodge - podge of young interior players, numerous starting five combinations and veteran tackles. Those tackles, Taylor Lewan and Michael Scho- field, were both selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. Lewan was taken with the 11th overall pick by the Tennessee Titans, and Schofield was picked by the Denver Broncos in the third round. What's left is a group of guys that totaled a handful of starts — redshirt junior center Gra- ham Glasgow, redshirt sophomore guard Kyle Kalis, redshirt sophomore tackle Erik Magnuson, sophomore guard Kyle Bosch, fifth-year senior guard Joey Burzynski and redshirt junior center Jack Miller — along with plenty of young, un- tested talent. In 2013, the Wolverines ranked No. 102 nation- ally in rushing offense, managing to gain just 125.7 yards per game on the ground. They also ranked No. 105 nationally in sacks allowed (36) and dead last nationally in tackles for loss allowed (114). Without the help of two NFL-ready tackles, the offensive line has plenty to prove. Magnuson, who missed the spring practice period while rehabbing a shoulder injury, was one of the bright young talents. After racking up seven starts at guard last year, he will move to his natural position, left tackle, and needs to have a productive year. Kalis, Bosch and the rest of the interior offensive line will hopefully benefit from new coordinator Doug Nussmeier's offense. 2. How will Jake Ryan take to his new role at middle linebacker? Fifth-year senior linebacker Jake Ryan, who missed the first five games last year while com- ing back from an ACL injury suffered in the spring, has wreaked a lot of havoc from the strongside outside linebacker spot for the last few years. As a redshirt freshman in 2011, he finished with a promising 37 tackles, including 11 tack- les for loss and three sacks. The next season, he truly broke out, leading the team with 88 tack- les, 16 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, terrorizing opposing offenses. In last year's injury-shortened campaign, he had 30 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. Now, Ryan, one of the Wolverines' most proven commodities, will be moving to middle line- backer. He is surrendering the strongside spot to juniors James Ross III and Royce Jenkins-Stone and redshirt sophomore Allen Gant. Ryan, head coach Brady Hoke and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison were all pleased with Ryan's progression at the new position through- out the spring practice period — and the move will allow him to always be in the middle of the action, instead of seeing teams run away from his side of the field. However, Ryan, arguably the Wolverines' best pass rusher, may not have as many chances to get to the quarterback as he would have on the outside. 3. What will the rushing attack look like this fall? Michigan's leading returning rusher is sopho- more Derrick Green. He racked up 83 carries for 270 yards and two touchdowns in 2013. Over the last 50 years, the Wolverines' lead- ing returning rusher from the previous season amassed fewer yards than Green just twice. In 1967, the team's leading returning rusher from 1966 was Ernie Sharpe, who ran for just 105 yards. In 1996, the team's leading returning rusher was Clarence Williams, who ran for just 227 yards in 1995. Last year, Michigan relied mostly on now-grad- uated Fitzgerald Toussaint, who ranked No. 55 nationally in carries (185) but No. 128 nationally in yardage (648). Now, Green and fellow sophomore De'Veon Smith are butting heads with redshirt junior Justice Hayes, who looked the strongest of the three during Michigan's spring game, for playing time this fall. And, depending on the NCAA's eligibility rul- ing, USC transfer Ty Isaac may be able to play im- mediately this year. (If not, Isaac will be eligible as a redshirt sophomore in 2015.) Nussmeier has shown that he likes to spread out the carries more than the Wolverines did last season. As Alabama's offensive coordinator last year, Nussmeier gave at least 20 carries to six running backs, three of whom (T.J. Yeldon, 207 carries for 1,235 yards; Kenyan Drake, 92 carries for 694 yards; and Derrick Henry, 35 carries for 382 yards) tallied more than 380 yards on the ground. Expect Hayes, Green and Smith to share the responsibilities this season. 4. Will Michigan be able to pressure the quarterback? On paper, the Wolverines were a good-not- great team at putting pressure on opposing Top Five QuesTion Marks The U-M offensive line surrendered the most tackles for loss (114) in the nation in 2013, but could benefit from new coordinator Doug Nussmeier's offense. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN 72-76.Season Preview.indd 74 6/18/14 3:54 PM

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