Rush Offense vs. Utah Rush Defense
Michigan returns five offensive linemen with significant starting experience, although a few of them are playing new positions and last year’s starting center left with a year of eligibility remaining. From left to right, we should see sophomore Mason Cole (12 career starts), redshirt junior Ben Braden (12), fifth year senior Graham Glasgow (24), redshirt junior Kyle Kalis (16), and redshirt junior Erik Magnuson (13). That’s 77 combined starts on the line, and while Glasgow played guard last year, he started nine games at center during the 2013 season. New offensive line coach (and offensive coordinator) Tim Drevno should make a positive difference. Michigan’s offensive linemen have talked about running a lot of zone, but it would be a surprise if they don’t work in some traps and powers, let alone an occasional counter. On the other side, Utah’s best defensive unit is their line, but they were more effective at rushing the passer than they were at stopping the run. Junior defensive end Hunter Dimick made 14.5 tackles for loss, and sophomore defensive tackle Lowell Lotuleilei is stout in the middle. Senior linebacker Jared Norris is the star of the back seven after making 116 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks last season. Michigan has to improve its running game, and I think they will with the improved offensive line and a solid stable of running backs.
Hit the jump for the rest of the Utah preview.