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Posted on Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 10 a.m.

Brady Hoke hopes to have Michigan's offensive line settled next week; freshmen working at backup OT

By Nick Baumgardner


Michigan coach Brady Hoke hopes to have a first-string five-man offensive line settled by next week.

Melanie Maxwell |

The Michigan football team entered its second week of preseason camp with one remaining gap in its new-look offensive line.

And by the end of its third week, head coach Brady Hoke hopes to have that hole plugged.

Hoke says he'd like to have all his starting offensive line spots settled 10 days before the Wolverines' season-opener against Alabama. Meaning, by next Wednesday, Michigan hopes to have a unified front five.

"Probably 10 days before the first game," Hoke said. "I think (having) some continuity that we try to build consistently is part of (the reason why)."

Michigan does have four returning starters on the offensive line, but will feature familiar faces in new places.

Left tackle Taylor Lewan and right guard Patrick Omameh are expected to resume their 2011 starting positions. From there, former guard Michael Schofield is expected to move out to right tackle to replace the graduated Mark Huyge while ex-guard Ricky Barnum will take David Molk's spot at center.

The lone remaining position battle is at left guard, where fifth-year senior Elliott Mealer, sophomore walk-on Joey Burzynski and true freshman Kyle Kalis are competing for time.

With Michigan set to take part in a full-scale scrimmage on Saturday, Hoke says he expects to have a few answers from the left guard spot soon.

"What we'll do is take a big part of a scrimmage practice situation and keep one guy there," Hoke said. "So that there's a comfort level between the left tackle and the center. (Although) Taylor can basically play with anybody because of his experience, and he knows what to do."

While Michigan still needs to figure out which five offensive linemen will take the field first against Alabama, it also needs to lock in the rest of its depth chart up front.

Last season, Schofield served as Michigan's main utility man up front -- possessing the ability to play both guard and tackle. With him now moving into a starting role, the need for competent No. 2 players amps up considerably -- especially at tackle.

Presently, Hoke said true freshmen Ben Braden and Erik Magnuson have joined junior Erik Gunderson as three players who have taken snaps at tackle.

Asked how many freshmen he expects to have inside his two-deep on the offensive line, Hoke said three, maybe four.

But, again, he maintains that he's not afraid to play the youngsters -- so long as they're ready.

"All those guys (have taken snaps)," Hoke said. "But I don't know if I'd identify who (has locked down a reserve spot) yet, to be honest with you.

"That's always (a concern), but those guys have to grow up fast. All of them are smart guys and they're coachable. So they'll be Ok."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Tue, Aug 21, 2012 : 11:22 a.m.

Experience is a major key ingredient. Alabama seems to have more of it than the current Michigan Wolverine player roster. Hoke will probably choose to gamble large with several freshmen. Borges will examine Alabama thoroughly looking for their weaknesses. The question is... Can Michigan withstand four quarters of intense pounding that the BAMA defense is sure to bring? We will need several fresh and strong offensive linemen if we hope to make a game of it.


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 6:13 a.m.

Still not sure about the O line? Three maybe four true Freshman among the 1's and 2's? No idea what the D line will look like? Seems like a top 10 team to me. Good thing Kovacs is still there.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 11:21 p.m.

You can count on Saban running up the score.....


Mon, Aug 20, 2012 : 4:33 a.m.

Poor sparty.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

Let's just hope Saban doesn't run up the score.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 7:53 a.m.

The question is ....where will Michigan be after the Alabama game ...I say 15th in the country. I do believe they will climb the rest of the year because they will play great after they lose in very embarassingly to Alabama.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 11:32 a.m.

depends if Saban is nice and doesn't run up the score.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 9:23 p.m.

We are back to reality with Coach Hoke's approach: before Hoke & Borges, we seldom if ever saw that kind of detailed planning for the offense team we see now - it was all on the shoulders of one "wunderkind" quarterback who was supposed to perform miracles all by himself - and we learned that is just, uh, "baloney." It remains to be seen whether Michigan (and all non-SEC teams) can overcome the no-rules recruiting privilege which SEC teams "enjoy." I sure hope they can.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 11:31 a.m.

waaaaaaa...we don't lose cause we're no's cause everyone else cheats. those meanies.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 8:20 p.m.

There is no uncertainty on one side: All the best defensive tackles in the country (according to ESPN, et al.) are on SEC teams (including Alabama). So unless Michigan is putting out an offensive line capable of stopping / defeating Alabama's defense, Alabama's defense will shut Denard down. why are SEC teams winning one BCS championship after another? Simple: they don't have to recruit, they just select - and SEC coaches select 2-3 and 4 deep at each position. Once the championship goes to a playoff system: the SEC schools lose their advantage. Top recruits will go to play in other conferences (where they won't end up cast-offs because they aren't considered SEC excess baggage). I certainly hope that Hoke & Co. prove me and the ESPN columnists wrong: nothing would please me more than for Michigan to hand Alabama & Saban a nice big can of Whupped-Ya. But until I see otherwise, I have to think of the Michigan - Alabama game as David vs Goliath and hope things turn out for David.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

This is just brilliant analysis. Have you thought about publishing it somewhere? Maybe your school paper?


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 6:14 p.m.

Just when I think that I've written too many words of concern about the lack of depth and experience on the lines, this reinforces all my concerns. I've still written it too many times though. This first game will help us prepare for the one against that beady eyed little rat face Buckeye-wannabe who has been more physical than us for four years, and we need to win that one this year.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

Amen, dude.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

I hope Mealer gets the start, his experience is needed. Plus, its his Senior year and it would be great for an upper classman to win the job.

Nick Baumgardner

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

Remember, too, this could be a battle that continues into the season. Borges says it's not ideal to play multiple guys at one spot on the offensive line -- but if no one separates, it could be necessary. We'll see.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

I agree it would be nice to see Mealer in there since he is a senior if all other factors are the same. However, if Kalls or Burzynski gives the team a better chance to win, then one of them should start. I bet Mealer would agree with that philosophy because he is a team player.