Michigan’s DL vs. ECU’s OL
The Pirates offensive line is a little tougher to project at the moment than their defensive line, as this group loses more pieces than their counterparts, and head coach Mike Houston won’t be naming starters publicly in advance. So this is a bit more projected than the Pirates DL.
- LT: Parker Moorer (R. Jr.) – 6-5, 311 pounds, 1 career start
- LG: Dustyn Hall (R. Sr.) – 6-4, 296 pounds, 25 career starts (USF)
- C: Hampton Ergle (R. Jr.) – 6-7, 315 pounds, 1 career start
- RG: Isaiah Foote (R. Jr.) – 6-3, 329 pounds, 13 career starts
- RT: Owen Murphy (R. Sr.) – 6-6, 312 pounds, 15 career starts (Akron)
The Pirates offensive line will likely look like this, with the projection and expectation being that Moorer makes the flip from the right tackle spot to the left-hand side this year. He started one game last fall and is a bit of an unknown as to what caliber he will provide ECU this fall protecting Max Garcia (QB).
However, the right tackle spot is a bit more uncertain. Right now, the projection is for the more experienced player in Owen Murphy, a transfer from Akron, to beat out Walter Stribling, an even larger tackle who was a reserve for the Pirates last fall. While Murphy does have experience, he was fairly unreliable for the Zips in 2021 when he last started. Perhaps a fresh opportunity will work out for him, but the right tackle will likely be a position Michigan can exploit.
The strength of this unit is going to be its guards, no doubt about it. The Pirates return veteran starter Isaiah Foote, and also return starter Nishad Strother at guard, though he’s in a competition with Dustyn Hall, an experienced starter from USF who followed his OL coach, Allen Mogridge, to ECU this offseason. Either way, it ends up, the Pirates will have two quality guards and even a little bit of depth to go along with it.
Overall, this Pirates OL is hard to predict, due to the lack of experience present at most spots. They’re a bigger line than many Group of 5 opponents and likely will turn into a quality unit down the run, but asking this group to gel right away against a fearsome Michigan defensive front is a tough ask.
This will be a very good battle to watch between a quality guard duo for the Pirates, consistently going up against Kris Jenkins, Mason Graham, and Kenneth Grant. I expect the Wolverines to handle their business here, but this group is likely a bit of a step up at most spots from the non-conferences foe Michigan faced last season. Not enough to be in danger of losing, but enough that Michigan will have to work for it a bit. A dominant performance from Michigan’s DL here would be an encouraging sign this early in the season.
As this is my preview, I will be adding my score prediction to each game. Michigan 49, ECU 10, a comfortable win for the Wolverines to kick off their 2023 campaign, despite some of the chaos of no Jim Harbaugh or Sherrone Moore in this one.
I will also add one OL and DL prediction for each game as well:
- Drake Nugent grades out as Michigan’s top offensive lineman after this game.
- Braiden McGregor tallies at least 1.5 sacks here.
As always, Go Blue!