Maize and Blue Offensive Preview: O-Line & Running Backs

Devin Gardner will be the focus this fall camp as Michigan moves to a pro style offense but how the run game preforms will be the key to just how well the transition goes. Taylor Lewan returned for his senior year and he, along with fellow senior tackle Michael Schofield, will try to help along a young group on the inside of the line.

Meanwhile the running backs will be led by Fitz Touissant and the much hyped Derrick Green. Lets dive in with the big uglies…

Offensive Line

1. The Tackles are Good– Really good. Lewan and Schofield will be the best tackle combo in the Big Ten. Again, injury proofing Gods, watch over them. Redshirt frosh Magnuson will be the primary backup for both.

taylor lewan2. The Interior– This was a disaster last year. Even though it was three seniors they were all undersized guys brought in by Rich Rod and outside of Denard running, Michigan had an ineffective run game because of it.

Whether or not the interior improves is the key to the offense taking the next step under Borges. The passing game will be pretty good but all of Borges play fakes will not work if there is no threat of a run game from under center. Michigan has recruited OL well under Hoke (I believe we are up to 233 OL on the roster) but it always takes time for these guys to develop.

At right guard redshirt frosh Kyle Kalis will get the start and has immense hype coming with him. You may remember him for being the first Tressel commit to switch allegiances up North. I am sure you all have many kind words for him.

At center redshirt sophomore Jack Miller is expected to win the job although he is built more like a Rich Rod O-lineman. Michigan fans hope he turns into David Molk. The offense was never the same when he was out of the lineup and they clearly missed him last year after he graduated. If healthy, true frosh Patrick Kugler will get a look here as well.

At left guard is a mountain. It may actually be a mountain on top of a mountain as redshirt frosh Ben Braden is expected to win the job. He is listed at 6’7”, 320 pounds and even Lewan talks about how big he is. He is naturally a tackle and will be expected to move back out there once the seniors graduate. For now he will get some experience in alongside Lewan.

If these guys can actually help Michigan open holes we will see a pretty good offense and some decent RBs flashing some skill. Speaking of…

Running Backs

1. Fitz Toussaint– Everyones favorite world explorer is back after a mediocre 10 games and a horrific leg injury in the Iowa game. He probably felt Molk’s absence more than anyone else as he constantly just rammed into the O line for 2 yard carries. He is 100% now and is expected to be the starter. Anything close to 2011 production means Michigan’s offense is a success.

2. Derrick Green– Green is Hoke’s highest ranked skill guy to hit campus and expectations have been thrown on him. He compares favorably to the bigger backs Michigan used to have and MGoBlog compares him to former Buckeye Beanie Wells. The ideal scenario is that he and Fitz platoon like Pittman and Wells in ‘06. Preferably with each having a huge TD run in the Game in November.

3. The Rest– Thomas Rawls and Justice Hayes haven’t shown much but Hayes may turn into a decent 3rd down back. Redshirt Frosh Drake Johnson has some practice hype but I will believe it when I see it. Best case is for these guys to eat up the garbage time so Deveon Smith can redshirt. Smith is not as big a name as Green but could contribute down the road. If he does play I hope it is because he is too good rather than desperation.

Next up the WRs and TEs and discussing what this offense will look like now that Borges has the ingredients he wants.

Side Note: If you are interested in getting involved on 6 Rings, feel free to contact us at 6RingsSports@gmail.com. We are always interested in finding new voices that want to write. 

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