With the most experienced offensive line in the Big Ten coming into the 2016 season (130 starts between them), a lot of focus will be on how this team will handle adversity. Michigan is coming off one of their most successful campaigns in recent memory. However, they lack a B1G title(haven’t won one in over 10 years), and they have not had a championship-caliber team since 2006. Last year changed expectations for fans and critics alike. With the help of Tim Drevno, this offensive line has improved leaps and bounds thus far in the Jim Harbaugh era. We’ve seen an established running game and a quality passing game to boot. Expectations are higher than recent years and it starts with the Offensive Line position.
After the graduation of of Graham Glasgow at Center, Harbaugh and Drevno entrusted Mason Cole for the void. He was a solid Tackle, and it’s assumed that he should be able to handle the Center position. I wouldn’t be surprised if he receives All-American after the season. He’s that good. Another Junior to look out for is Patrick Kugler. So far, coaches were not impressed with his 2015 performance, however, his ceiling is very high and has the correct coaches to help reach his full potential. I expect him to be solid back up to Cole. Freshman Jon Runyan Jr needs to build on his strength before we can see what he can do.
This position is loaded on the offensive line. Talents of Ben Braden and Kyle Kalis should provide great protection for Quarterback. Unfortunately, they are Seniors, but here is where it gets better. Junior David Dawson was in an arm sling this spring and was held out of practice, but did see some snaps last year. I expect him to improve and see more time on the field. Freshman to watch out for is Michael Onwenu, who could very well see some time this season. He was a 4* coming out of the 2016 class. Another Freshman who could battle for the Guard position is Stephen Spanellis.
Erik Magnuson should be battling Grant Newsome for the #1 spot, but I would like to see Ben Bredeson get the nod. Both Magnuson and Newsome under performed last season, but they have the experience. Bredeson is a 4* and has a very solid game film. More importantly, he has the build to play right away. I expect Freshman Nolan Ulizio to be red-shirted.
With a lot of talent and experience coming back, there is no reason this offense can’t move the ball this season. By the time they get to the heavy bulk of the schedule, all of the kinks should be worked out and they should perform like they did in the Citrus Bowl. Michigan has the Defensive talent to get there, but this Offense needs to uphold expectations to compliment the Defense.