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21Aug 2015
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2015 Season Countdown: #10 Kyle Kalis

Kyle Kalis (#67)

Kyle Kalis
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 292 lbs.
High school: Lakewood (OH) St. Edward
Position: Offensive guard
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #67
Last year: I ranked Kalis #9 and said he would be the starting right guard. He started seven games at right guard.

For the past couple years, we have been waiting for Kalis to break out as a player. A 5-star in high school, he redshirted as a freshman and has spent the last couple seasons playing part-time as Michigan has struggled on the offensive line. Kalis has had lingering back issues during that stretch, the tail end of which caused him to miss out on some playing time last year. He eventually recovered enough to wrench the starting right guard job away from Erik Magnuson approximately halfway through the season. Overall, the offensive line improved, as the team gained 3.28 yards/carry in 2013 and 4.60 yards/carry in 2014. Advanced stats are unavailable for 2013, but an abysmal season turned into a mediocre #50 in Adjusted Line Yards for 2014, as well as being #72 in Adjusted Sack Rate.  It was better, but not great. For a few years, I had been pointing to the 2014 season as the year when Michigan really got back to having a good offensive line, but it was a little hit-and-miss, resulting in those middle-of-the-pack numbers.

Kalis is back to right guard most of the time, although he has also reportedly been practicing left guard occasionally. One of the guard jobs is his to lose. He is the second-most experienced lineman on the team (16 starts), behind only fifth year senior Graham Glasgow (24 starts). A large impediment for Michigan’s line the past couple years was offensive line coach Darrell Funk, who I think struggled mightily to teach players the nuances of the game. Imported offensive coordinator/line coach Tim Drevno is a step (or two or three) up from Funk, and he had a pretty decent running game at USC last year with three true freshmen starting on the line. Drevno should be able to polish up Kalis, who has a nasty streak and could be a mauler despite dropping six pounds (298 lbs. to 292) since last year.

Prediction: Starting right guard; Big Ten honorable mention

20Aug 2015
Blog, homepage 6 comments

2015 Season Countdown: #11 Erik Magnuson

Erik Magnuson (#78)

Erik Magnuson
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 296 lbs.
High school: Carlsbad (CA) La Costa Canyon
Position: Offensive tackle
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #78
Last year: I ranked Magnuson #4 and said he would be the starting left guard. He started five games at offensive guard.

I have had as difficult of a time pinning down Magnuson as I have anyone during these countdowns, I think. He was brought in with the goal of playing him as a left tackle, and he has played almost anything but that. I pegged him as Michigan’s starting left guard last season, but that was mostly the job of Graham Glasgow. The right tackle was Ben Braden, who struggles in pass protection, which is a stronger suit for Magnuson. The left tackle was Mason Cole, a true freshman who looked like a guard coming out of high school. After being squeezed out of the offensive line, Brady Hoke dressed him up as a tight end with a #81 jersey and let him play in heavy packages late in the season.

This year I think  the picture is a little clearer. Glasgow is needed at center now that Jack Miller quit football, so that opens up a spot at left guard. Magnuson has been waiting in the wings for a couple seasons, starting roughly half the games over that span. I don’t see a lot of weaknesses in Magnuson’s game, but obviously Hoke’s staff disagreed somewhat. Interior players pushing from behind are redshirt sophomore guard David Dawson and redshirt sophomore center Patrick Kugler, who could potentially push Glasgow back to guard with a good camp. However, the lineup is expected to remain the same as in the spring, and I am significantly more confident in Magnuson at this point than either Dawson or Kugler. With a new offensive line coach in Tim Drevno, Magnuson and the rest of the line should take a step forward.

Prediction: Starting right tackle

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