Orange Bowl Preview: Michigan Defensive Line vs. Florida State Offensive Line

Orange Bowl Preview: Michigan Defensive Line vs. Florida State Offensive Line

December 30, 2016

Roderick Johnson (image via 247 Sports)



  • SDE: Fifth year senior Chris Wormley (6’6″, 302 lbs.)
  • DT: Fifth year senior Matt Godin (6’6″, 294 lbs.)
  • NT: Fifth year senior Ryan Glasgow (6’4″, 299 lbs.)
  • WDE: Senior Taco Charlton (6’6″, 272 lbs.)

Football Outsiders has Michigan’s defensive line at #4 in Adjusted Line Yards, and that reinforces the idea that Michigan has one of the top few defensive lines in the country. That’s good because they are huge (three guys who are 6’6″!) and experienced. The top NFL prospect is probably Charlton (37 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 9 sacks), who has been dominant at times. Next is Wormley (38 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 5.5 sacks), who will play strongside end and defensive tackle at times. Glasgow (40 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 4 sacks) has turned from being excellent at holding up to double-teams to now getting penetration throughout his career. Godin (26 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 1 sack) plays less than the other three and isn’t as effective, but he’s a solid-level starting player. The unit is #2 in Standard Down Line Yards and #1 in Adjusted Sack Rate. Of course, Michigan has other players who rotate in and play well, but there aren’t many weaknesses among these top four guys.

Key backups: Backups at all four spots are worth mentioning here. Number one overall recruit from 2016 Rashan Gary (6’5″, 287 lbs.) rotates in at strongside end and has 24 tackles, 5 TFLs, and 1 sack on the year. He hasn’t been a terror off the edge as a pass rusher, but he’s very consistent and does his job well. Redshirt junior Maurice Hurst, Jr. (6’2″, 282 lbs.) is a viable NFL prospect and is Michigan’s quickest interior defensive lineman. He’s made 30 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, and 3.5 sacks this season. Redshirt sophomore nose tackle Bryan Mone (6’4″, 310 lbs.) played the best game of his career against Ohio State in the regular season finale and has 9 tackles and 1 TFL. Redshirt sophomore Chase Winovich (6’3″, 245 lbs.) came out of nowhere to turn into an effective pass rusher, and he now has 33 tackles, 8 TFLs, and 5.5 sacks. A couple of these guys can rotate in at a time and Michigan won’t really skip a beat.

Hit the jump for a look at FSU’s offensive line.



  • LT: Junior Roderick Johnson (6’7″, 311 lbs.)
  • LG: Fifth year senior Kareem Are (6’6″, 325 lbs.)
  • C: Redshirt sophomore Alec Eberle (6’4″, 294 lbs.)
  • RG: Redshirt freshman Cole Minshew (6’5″, 338 lbs.)
  • RT: Junior Rick Leonard (6’7″, 308 lbs.)

Florida State is #8 in Adjusted Line Yards, but they’re just #59 in Standard Down Line Yards. That suggests to me that defenses know FSU is going to try to get the ball to Dalvin Cook, so they stack the box on standard downs. They’re #84 in Adjusted Sack Rate. Left tackle Johnson was First Team All-ACC and left guard Are was Second Team All-ACC, so that’s the strength of their line and they’ll run the ball to that side more than to the right. The right side of the line has been in flux with injuries, underperformance, and some off-the-field issues.

Key backups: Redshirt junior Wilson Bell (6’5″, 320 lbs.) has started at times but has had off-the-field problems. Redshirt sophomore Brock Ruble (6’8″, 319 lbs.) has also been a part-time starter.

Advantage: Michigan. Michigan has an elite defensive line, and FSU’s offensive line is average to good. It’s not a good thing when you’re in bowl games or game 13 and you still don’t have a solidified offensive line. It’s one thing to have issues with injuries, but it’s another to just be struggling with performance. Johnson is a good run blocker at left tackle, but he can only block one guy at a time. The rest of Michigan’s linemen should win more matchups than they lose.


  1. DonAZ
    Comments: 361
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    Dec 30, 2016 at 11:12 AM

    The performance of Michigan’s OL against FSU’s DL is probably the #1 determinant of outcome; the performance of Michigan’s DL against FSU’s OL is a close second.

    I order it like that because for Michigan to win this they’re going to have to score 3 TDs at least. Michigan’s defense — good as it is — has to count on a degree of support from the offense … unless, of course the Michigan D scores some points on its own. This won’t be a 9-6 defensive struggle.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3725
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Dec 30, 2016 at 12:05 PM

      I think it could be a defensive struggle.

      Agree with your first point though, because MIchigan’s OL is the most volatile unit in that position group. If they can open up some run lanes on the edge Michigan should be OK. If they get dominated it’s going to be a long day because at some point Cook/Francois will make a play or three no matter how their OL is doing.

  2. crazyjoedavola
    Comments: 192
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Dec 30, 2016 at 11:15 AM

    This is where Michigan has to dominate to have a good chance to win the game.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 3725
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Dec 30, 2016 at 12:03 PM

    You are more bullish on FSU’s OL than others. I tend to agree. Still, the matchup plays to M’s advantage and we need to continue to dominate opposing OLs to win this game.

    I would guess FSU comes out with a gameplan to focus on quick-developing plays to mitigate the obvious mismatch. Francois and Cook in space is real concerning.

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