Ann Arbor, MI. It’s amazing to think that at this time last year Michigan football fans were dreading the day when they had to start watching their quarterbacks get sacked over and over again every game, as the Wolverines’ offensive line was undoubtedly in shambles at the end of the Hoke era. Marred by injuries, poor fundamentals, and a lack of physicality, Michigan’s offensive line was repeatedly torn up by the Big Ten’s ferocious defenses.
During the 2014 season Michigan’s offensive line ranked 76th in the nation in sacks allowed, allowing 27 throughout the 12 game season. Heading into Harbaugh’s first season, despite returning only three starters, Michigan’s line immediately proved it was much improved during the first game of the season at Utah. Despite the Ute’s narrow victory, there was a silver lining; Michigan’s line allowed just one sack despite Utah’s vaunted pass rushers.
Michigan’s line proved itself time and time again this past season. Despite playing some of the biggest defensive lines, the Wolverines were able to move the ball effectively and protect the quarterback. By the end of the season, Michigan was 27th in the nation in sacks allowed, conceding only 18 in 13 games.
Coming off the heels of last season’s success, including a dominating performance against a strong Florida defense in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, Michigan’s line is looking to improve on their stellar 2015 season. This year Michigan returns all but one starter, senior center Graham Glasgow, and the group and offensive coordinator/line coach Tim Drevno knows this group has a chance to be special, after seeing them compete with each other for the starting spots this spring.
In a meeting with the press yesterday, Drevno had this to say about his line: “The neat thing about spring ball is you can move the line around and you try to find the best five guys, but nothing is stamped in cement.”
While Michigan’s line should be even better this season, there are still questions. Mason Cole, arguably Michigan’s best lineman and a left tackle last season, has been taking reps at center, but it remains to be seen where he will play. There are also questions about whether sophomore Grant Newsome is capable of starting this season for the Wolverines.
While questions remain, tomorrow’s spring game will be a good test for the offensive line as they go up against the defensive line of the 4th best defense of the 2015 season. Look for how the Wolverines are able to run the ball and if they are able to create holes for their running backs.
While the 2016 offensive line is not set, one is certain that Jim Harbaugh’s squad will field our the five best offensive linemen. And in true Harbaugh fashion, you can be sure that the decision will be based solely on good, old fashioned competition.