Michigan Football Tidbits: Position Group — Offensive Line — Part 1 of 2

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Offensive Line:

Overall there is a great deal to be optimistic about in 2009: depth, work ethic, coaching, and talent. All these aspects seem to be improving on the offensive line. Competition for starting honors will be interesting to watch. The success of the team in 2009 could hinge on how dominant the offensive line will be.

If Michigan can run effectively in 2009, they have a much greater chance of winning and will nnot have to rely on the quarterback to win game. That is especially important if they decide to got with Tate a true freshman quarterback. Having said that, we tend to be more of realistic, some claim pessimist, so although we see some very encouraging trends, this group may yet be another year away from being good.

The reason? Coach Frey is going to have some tough decisions to make. Do you go with the player who has a greater upside, but less experience; or do you play the ones with the experience, but more limited athletic talent?

1) Prime example: Omameh vs. Ortmann

Ortmann is been a kid who is now a senior and has been through some tough times at Michigan. He never complains and does what is expected of him. Let’s review what this kid has been told to do: He comes to Michigan as a tight end out of high school, but knowing he would become an offensive linemen. He was a good athlete who needed to gain strength. They put him on a rigorous program to gain upper body strength and told him to eat — a lot.

Along the way, he overextended himself and injured his chest, which did not allow him to lift for an extended period. The result was Ortmann got stronger, but lost some of his quickness. Two years ago during spring, Ortmann was told he had won the offensive tackle position, but by fall, he was delegated to the bench and played sparingly.

In comes Coach Rod and Barwis. Ortmann once again had to change his approach. He trimmed down, regained some quickness, and played in every game. Did he play well? He played okay, and showed some improvement as the year progressed. Ortmann continues to do everything asked of him. He has experience and plays left tackle, a very important position considering we may be playing a true freshman quarterback.

Omameh on the other hand is raw, but has been impressive in his early days at Michigan. He has very good work habits and is gaining strength daily (has probably made more progress than any offensive linemen on the team). There is no doubt that athletically Omameh has a big upside and just needs experience, or a lot of snaps, to improve.

Of all the kids, Omameh’s physical make-up has changed most: from being a kid with a thin upper body to having a pretty impressive physique.

The question this spring: do you go with experience (especially at left tackle) or do you go with the player of the future? We think we will know by the end of spring. Barring any injuries, our early prediction is it will be Ortmann.

2) Barnum:
Another example of huge upside of raw talent without the experience. He has not totally acclimated to the cold weather of Michigan, but seems too be adjusting somewhat. His favorite topic is the weather. Barnum started very strong last fal,l then hit the freshmen wall late in the season. Now he is starting to pick it back up. Barnum is the key to how the offensive line will be shaped in 2009.

Will he make a push and become a starter? Coaches are really hoping he does. They desperately want to upgrade the athleticism of the line. The question with Barnum is at what position suits him best and who does he beat out? Offensive guard is the position he has practiced the most, but do not be surprised if he, at least, takes a few snaps at offensive center in the spring to see if he can handle the snaps. At this point, assuming Barnum does everything he can to win a spot — which still might not be enough — we predict he will be starting at left guard.

>>> (Tomorrow we will be talking about Position Group — Offensive Line — Part 2 of 2. Molk, Ferrara, Mooseman, Schilling, and the rest of the offensive line.)

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Written by MaizeMan, CoachBt and ErocWolverine