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Michigan Depth Chart Projection Series: Offensive Line

In our depth chart projection series, we break down each positional group to see who gets the starting nod and who will provide depth throughout the season. In this edition, the offensive line is broken down.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The offensive line will be the last offensive group to be broken down, not because it's the largest, because the group obviously had the biggest problems last season.

Yes, it's a broken record, but it's an obvious area of concern.

The offensive success hinges on a young offensive line in 2014, can it handle the pressure?

The Players (Listed in Order by Class)

Freshman Mason Cole
Freshman Juwann Bushell-Beatty
Redshirt Freshman David Dawson
Redshirt Freshman Patrick Kugler
Redshirt Freshman Logan Tuley-Tillman
Redshirt Freshman Chris Fox
Redshirt Freshman Dan Samuelson
Sophomore Kyle Bosch
Redshirt Sophomore Blake Bars
Redshirt Sophomore Kyle Kalis
Redshirt Sophomore Ben Braden
Redshirt Sophomore Erik Magnuson
Redshirt Junior Jack Miller
Redshirt Junior Graham Glasgow

Youth, youth and more youth. Such is the way of life for the offense (and offensive line in particular). With Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield both getting ready for NFL camps, their absence really exposes the lack of experience and youth on the line. The exterior, as well as the interior, of the line will have to make do.

2013 Statistics (If Applicable)

I would make a chart outlining starts, but let's be honest here. Were there any stats worth mentioning for the 2013 season? The season should be blanked out from memory. Bosch, Kalis, Magnuson, Miller and Glasgow all saw some playing time in '13, albeit not much as a unit. One of the major gripes on that line was the amount of shuffling the line saw trying to find the right combination of players. Understandably, if something is not working it must be fixed, but constantly shuffling players doesn't begin to create chemistry.

Perhaps 2014 statistics can be something worth writing about.

2014 Maize n Brew Projected Depth Chart

Center Right Guard Right Tackle Left Guard Left Tackle
Starter Graham Glasgow* Kyle Kalis Ben Braden Kyle Bosch Erik Magnuson
Depth Jack Miller Patrick Kugler ** Chris Fox/Blake Bars David Dawson? Mason Cole

*= Suspended for season opener.
**= Can also play center, if needed.
David Dawson= Was practicing at the tackle position during the spring, so the left guard spot is a bit of a question mark for depth.

Not many surprises there. It is possible that Miller could take over as the starting center pending on how he plays against Appalachian State. With Glasgow suspended for the opener, there is no doubt that Miller be the starter week one. Granted, the offense will be watered down intentionally, there is still a chance could he continue being the center as the season progresses.

A lot of talk was made from the coaching staff about Braden's abilities. Although we didn't see it last season, Braden will finally get a chance to prove himself by becoming the starting tackle for the Wolverines. Players like Bosch, Magnuson and Kalis will all benefit by playing solid minutes together. The longer an offensive line gels together, the better the chemistry will become. Hopefully this unit can bounce back with a stronger 2014, but it won't be an overnight fix.

Three Big Questions

1. Will new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier's offense fix this line?

It will be '"fixed" eventually, but I don't expect it to be something that occurs overnight. In terms of last years struggles, I simply can't begin to fathom the line becoming any worse than it was last year. If rock bottom was a thing, 2013 was it for the offensive line. Will the blocking schemes become straight-forward and easier to understand? Absolutely. The power running game has one simple goal in mind, running people over and running straight ahead. With that, it should be easier to manage.

However, let's be honest here, the returning players who saw playing time in 2013 are embarrassed. They might not admit that, but we all know they want redemption. The entire country is doubting their play and Nussmeier is probably reminding them of that fact, that alone is enough motivation to be better.

2. Will Mason Cole see playing time as a true freshman?

It might be hard to believe, but Michigan could see back-to-back seasons where a true freshman could see playing time on the offensive line. Both Bosch and Cole had the advantage of enrolling early to become adapted to the playbook and weight conditioning programs. With a really strong spring, Cole has set himself up to see some playing time this season. If he's talented enough and ready to go out there and put in some solid snaps, why not?

3. Will the offensive line make Devin Gardner's job easier this season?

I think so. As long as the offensive line can keep Gardner in the pocket, I think this year is already a success. The quarterback position is fine at Michigan and Gardner has proved what he can do with a line that can maintain blocks. Nussmeier wants Gardner to run less, which is understandable, so the offensive line needs to come up strong for him. Gardner will get his rush yards regardless, but getting them without having to run for his life due to a collapsing pocket will be the best way to get his.