Michigan’s offensive line takes shape as spring practices progress
During the week, Land of 10 reporters following the Wolverines answer questions on the minds of Michigan fans. Submit a question or suggest a topic by sending a tweet here to Rachel Lenzi or here to Kevin Goheen. Check back Monday through Friday as we answer the Michigan Question of the Day. Go here to see our previous answers.
What does the offensive line look like right now? — Noah Ayoub, via Facebook
A caveat before going any further with the answer to this question: The media isn’t allowed to watch any of the spring practices until the spring game.
But as for what Michigan has told the media about the offensive line, the interior is set. The tackles remain a question mark.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said on March 23, the first day of Michigan’s practices, that Ben Bredeson and Mike Onwenu are Michigan’s top players at guard, and Cesar Ruiz is the top returnee at center. Offensive line coach Ed Warinner said last week that most of the offensive line is set at positions other than Stephen Spanellis, who is practicing at center and guard, and Andrew Stueber, who is practicing at guard and tackle.
Opportunities exist for Michigan’s younger players at both tackle positions, particularly following the graduation of left tackle Mason Cole. Juwann Bushell-Beatty and Jon Runyan are also candidates to start at tackle, but Harbaugh also expressed confidence in freshmen James Hudson and Chuck Filiaga.
Another wild card: Grant Newsome, who has missed the last 18 months after sustaining a dislocated knee in October 2016. As of last week, doctors had yet to clear Newsome to participate in spring practices, in preparation for the fall. If doctors clear him, he will become a candidate to start at tackle.
The biggest addition to Michigan’s offensive line, though, is Warinner. He isn’t a miracle worker, but has more than 30 years of experience in coaching successful offensive lines. His experience, his perspective and his expectations will be vital to bring the Wolverines offensive line in sync.
Warinner affixed an asterisk to his new charges.
“We’re not a finished product at all,” Warinner said. “But I think that everyone would say that there has been a lot of progress and the defense would tell you that. The offensive line would tell you that and the coaches will as well.”
But he also brings optimism to a position group that Bredeson said approaches this year with a new attitude.
“I think we can be a very solid offensive line,” Warinner said.
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