One of the biggest storylines of Michigan’s opener last week was how the young, inexperienced interior of their offensive line would fare. They played well last week, but against Notre Dame, they will have a much tougher time tonight.
Brady Hoke’s team has sophomores Jack Miller at center and Graham Glasnow at left guard, with redshirted freshman Kyle Kalis at right guard. The youthful trio did well against Central Michigan, as Michigan dominated. While it was good to see them play, it wasn’t very telling. Any combination of Michigan offensive linemen would be expected to do well against a team of the pedigree of Central.
But Notre Dame will be a whole new challenge for Michigan’s interior o-linemen. And they know that, as Brady Hoke said “Jack, Kyle and Graham, it gets a little tougher this week.”
The biggest challenge for the young linemen will be Louis Nix, who is a massive man at nose tackle. Nix weighs 340 pounds and is a handful (actually more like a 1,000 handfuls…) for any lineman, especially these young Wolverines.
This matchup will really influence how well Michigan can run the ball tonight. If Michigan can get a push, like they were able to last week, then Fitzgerald Toussaint and the rest of the running back core can have success. But if Nix is a fixture in Michigan’s backfield, the Wolverines will have a hard time getting traction on the ground.
In the case that Michigan does have trouble blocking Nix in the running game, perhaps Al Borges will turn to the bigger Derrick Green. The 240 pound freshman running back played well against Central Michigan, gaining 58 yards on 11 rushes and 1 TD. He is a much stronger, physical running back than Toussaint and would likely find more success running into a muck at the line of scrimmage.
If Michigan is going to have success on offense against Notre Dame, they need to be able to run the ball well. And if the running game can go anywhere tonight, the young interior offensvive linemen will have to deal with Louis Nix.
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