- LT: Fifth year senior Ben Braden (6’6″, 335 lbs.)
- LG: Freshman Ben Bredeson (6’5″, 310 lbs.)
- C: Junior Mason Cole (6’5″, 305 lbs.)
- RG: Fifth year senior Kyle Kalis (6’5″, 305 lbs.)
- RT: Fifth year senior Erik Magnuson (6’6″, 305 lbs.)
After suffering a mid-season injury at left tackle, the offensive line was in flux for a while after trying a few different combinations. The players above played the several games together, and they did . . . okay. Michigan is #49 in Adjusted Line Yards and #41 in Power Success Rate, but #114 in Passing Down Line Yards and #80 in Opportunity Rate. They fare better in the passing game (#27 in Adjusted Sack Rate, #26 in sacks allowed), but it’s just a mediocre line altogether. Magnuson was named the team’s lineman of the year by the coaching staff, and Kalis earned some post-season accolades, but that might be more of a lifetime achievement award. Most of the time, the linemen block the right people and stay engaged, but they don’t get a lot of push in the running game and lack some athleticism at the tackle spots.
Key backups: The Wolverines have found a couple solid blocking tight ends in Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. and Devin Asiasi, so the need isn’t there quite as often to play six or seven offensive linemen at a time. However, redshirt junior center/guard Patrick Kugler (6’5″, 303 lbs.) and redshirt sophomore tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty (6’6″, 311 lbs.) are the primary backups, and Bushell-Beatty has donned an eligible number at times to play a jumbo tight end position.
Hit the jump for a look at Florida State’s defensive line.
- DE: Senior DeMarcus Walker (6’4″, 280 lbs.)
- DT: Redshirt sophomore Demarcus Christmas (6’4″, 308 lbs.)
- NT: Junior Derrick Nnadi (6’1″, 312 lbs.)
- BUCK: Sophomore Josh Sweat (6’5″, 250 lbs.)
Walker is the standout as a First Team All-American. He has 63 tackles, 16.5 TFLs, 15 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles on the season using a combination of power and quickness. He will be a handful for Michigan’s tackles to counter, and they’re going to need help from tight ends and play action to keep him off of Wilton Speight. Christmas has 20 tackles, 2 sacks, and 4 passes batted down on the season. Nnadi has 44 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, and 5.5 sacks. Both of those guys are quick and can push the pocket. Sweat is a former 5-star recruit with 38 tackles, 10 TFLs, and 5.5 sacks this year. He plays the hybrid DE/LB position that Michigan has employed in the past, including last year under D.J. Durkin. This is the biggest mismatch in the game, because Michigan’s offensive line isn’t solid to begin with and will be facing a line full of stars. The only defensive line better than FSU in Adjusted Sack Rate is . . . Michigan. They are in the middle of the pack when it comes to stopping the run (#61 in Adjusted Line Yards, for example), but they can get after the passer.
Key backups: Freshman defensive end Brian Burns comes off the bench and has 23 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, and 8.5 sacks on the year. He’s 6’5″ and only 218 lbs., but his speed is the difference maker off the edge. Sophomore defensive tackle Walvenski Aime’ (6’5″, 300 lbs., 17 tackles) and redshirt sophomore nose tackle Fredrick Jones (6’3″, 298 lbs., 14 tackles) rotate in, but they’re not the penetrators the starters are.
Advantage: Michigan is a mediocre run blocking team and Florida State is mediocre against the run, so that should be a wash. Michigan has been solid protecting the passer, and FSU has been very good at getting home with just three or four rushers. The Seminoles are tied for #1 in sacks (47) with Boston College despite playing one fewer game so far. It will be a huge struggle to keep Speight upright, and the shoulder injury he suffered against Iowa might still be a factor if and when FSU gets home with their pass rush.