Ed Warinner paying dividends for Michigan offensive line in need of upgrade
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Do you think the offensive line will improve under the new OL coach? — Nathan Bigelow, via Facebook
Michigan’s offensive line gave up 36 sacks and two Wolverines quarterbacks were lost to injury in 2017. While the rushing offense was fourth in the Big Ten, it averaged only 177.7 yards per game.
With those kinds of figures, the offensive line has no choice but to improve. So much of the offense’s ability to be effective hinges upon the production of the line, and that’s where Ed Warinner can help.
Warinner is a veteran whose forte is coaching the offensive line. He understands the nuances of offensive line play and the players who execute it. He finds a way to communicate with offensive linemen, given his wealth of experience.
Warinner brings new practice tactics. For example, he and defensive line coach Greg Mattison are making a point in practice to have Michigan’s top offensive linemen face the top defensive linemen. This is a means for improvement, and feeds into Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s belief that “iron sharpens iron.”
Warinner also is emphasizing pass protections, helping clarify the role of the offensive line and each player up front, and he is building his players’ confidence — something the unit collectively lacked last season. He also has simplified the line’s responsibilities.
“We get down, we make a call,” tackle Jon Runyan Jr. said. “We don’t have to keep looking around, figuring out what we’ve got to change.
“We’ve tweaked techniques. It’s a bit more comfortable.”
The offensive line’s growth and improvement, however, don’t just hinge on its coach. The players are just as responsible for taking ownership.
Michigan’s offensive line needs to improve its pass protection and open better holes for running backs.
Michigan guard Ben Bredeson said he’s already seeing his position group show willingness to make changes.
“We weren’t the strongest point on the team last year and we’re definitely very sick of hearing that,” Bredeson said. “We’re done with that.
“A lot of the guys have been driving at it, some of the older guys on the team have been talking about we’re really sick of being overlooked and we want to put our stamp on games.”
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