Michigan's Michael Schofield, not Ricky Barnum, expected to start at left guard in Sugar Bowl
One thing that's become apparent about Brady Hoke during his first season as head Michigan football coach: Take his depth charts as suggestion, not fact.
Another such curiosity has been junior offensive lineman Ricky Barnum, who was listed the starter every week this year at left guard, despite Michael Schofield getting nine of the 12 starts.
That appears to also be the case for the Wolverines' matchup against Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl (8:30 p.m. Jan. 3, ESPN).
Barnum was listed as the starter at left guard when the Sugar Bowl depth chart was released this week, but Hoke said on Friday the offensive line will be "pretty much hopefully the same."
So, that means Schofield, not Barnum, is the leader to start at left guard. He's started nine times there, first in the opener while Barnum sat out because of a violation of team rules and then in the final eight games as Barnum battled multiple ankle injuries.
He played well.
"I think he’s grown," Hoke said. "I think he’s improved. I think he’s really obviously better than he was at the beginning. But I think Michael has just really scratched the surface of how he can play offensive line at Michigan and that standard."
Schofield is a 6-foot-7, 299-pound native of Orland Park, Ill. He continues to be listed as the backup at both tackle spots, and Elliott Mealer is listed as Barnum's backup at left guard.
That rotation hasn't held true all season, though, and apparently won't in the Sugar Bowl. The starting lineup likely will be Taylor Lewan at left tackle, Schofield at left guard, David Molk at center, Patrick Omameh at right guard and Mark Huyge at right tackle.
That group came on strong down the stretch, opening holes that sprung both quarterback Denard Robinson and tailback Fitz Toussaint to 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
Schofield also will be an important player next year, when Michigan will be without seniors Molk and Huyge from a pool of only eight scholarship offensive linemen -- the worst depth Hoke has ever seen at the position.
One lineman who could fill a role next year is true freshman Chris Bryant, who was the only player Hoke mentioned when he was asked Friday about young players who were standing out in bowl practices.
Bryant, a 6-foot-4, 341-pound guard from Chicago, has not played this year and will be a redshirt freshman next year.