Michigan Wolverines: What Happened and What it Means — Part I
Some Answers and Some Questions
The first game of any football season, for the vast majority of college football programs, has a level of mild anxiety for coaches and fans. There is a step into the unknown and the season opener serves as a visual evaluation of the state of the program. That may be a simple process, however, the reality is that only some answers will be provided and there will remain a collection of irritating nagging questions. This scenario is easily applied to the Michigan and Appalachian State game.Michigan had a near overwhelming number of questions entering the season. So the article will use this assertion as the general platform. Well, we might as well start off with the now seemingly eternal and infernal question of Michigan football.
Question – how would the offensive line execute?
A zone-blocking scheme can look like yesterday’s garbage or inspire, depending on how well the players can execute against the competition. There are plenty of factors to consider such as angles, footwork, leverage, positioning, and coordination as a unit. Each member of the line had shining moments and each had occasions of oops. There were a few whiffs; there were occasions when leverage was lost and the defenders flat out won the battle with quickness, push, or a good move. There were times a base running play yielded little and times the Wolverines broke big runs accomplished by well-established lanes and nice running back reaction.
Coach Doug Nussmeier frequently used two tight ends and took the play off straight tackle. The right side combos of #56 Joey Burzynski (RG), #67 Kyle Kalis (RG), and #71 Ben Braden (RT), it is fair to state, were productive. The left side, not as much. Anytime a team runs for over 300 yards in a game someone is productive. Erik Magnuson #78 (LG) at times struggled with his movements at guard, but he made some nice initial turns and sealed up some holes. Jack Miller #60 (OC), frequently the tail on the offensive line donkey, sometimes got pushed backwards by the tiny 330- plus pound Appalachian State nose tackle Tyson Fernandez. But fair grading shows that Jack Miller had more victories than defeats. Many times he showed good use of hands and got to the second level to set up some inside running. Discussion was made of #52 Mason Cole (LT) missing a block on a good swim move: it happens, keep going.The tight ends were not dominating or particularly effective in the blocking scheme at the edge, and indeed there is still need for clear improvement. But #92 Keith Heitzman, #80 Khalid Hill, and #84 A.J. Williams provide at least a core of adequacy. All three can provide short passing game relief for the offensive scheme. At least the Michigan offensive line did not bring out the basket of flag laundry that have plagued many early season games.
Part II which will appear later today and will talk about Devin Gardner and his performance against App. State.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu
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