No football team goes far without a good all-around team, play-makers are needed on both sides of the football.
With that said, look at nearly each and every team that wins the Super Bowl or the National Championship, they all share one thing in common: a great offensive line.
Quarterback play will be crucial for the 2018 Michigan Wolverines. A quarterback makes or breaks a team more often than not, but without a good offensive line to protect the QB and open holes in the run game, an offense will likely be mediocre at best.
Offensive linemen; the unsung heroes, the guys you may not be watching every play, you may not even know their names. But their presence and productivity will be key when you look at the wins and losses tallied at the end of a season.
Enter Michigan’s new offensive line coach Ed Warinner. He’s received a lot of hype and a tall task. The unit has given Warinner good feedback so far, the results have also been positive.
“I just feel like it fits us a little better,” guard Ben Bredeson said about Warinner’s o-line scheme. “Guys are buying into it. I’ve yet to meet somebody who’s been upset with what we’re doing this fall and this includes myself, I’m a huge fan of what’s going on.”
It’s one thing for the offensive line unit to believe in themselves, but on top of that they’ve been proving their worth to the ever talented Michigan defense.
“Everybody along the Michigan offensive line is pushing each other to be great, and you see it,” defensive end Rashan Gary said. “They’ve been doing good because I feel like throughout all the QB’s that have been in they’ve been protecting them all good.”
It sounds like there’s been good battles in camp between the o-line and d-line.
“I love going against them: iron sharpens iron, especially when you’re in the trenches. The offensive and defensive lines set the standards for a team,” Gary said.
Viper linebacker Khaleke Hudson also believes the offensive line has improved. “I feel the offensive line has gotten drastically better like a lot better. They’re all in sync, you can tell in practice they’re communicating, blocking well, they’re giving us a challenge, they’re playing very well,” Hudson said.
Football smarts are important, but equally as important for battling in the trenches is toughness, and new strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert has gotten this unit to be stronger and faster. The addition of Herbert may prove to be every bit as valuable as the hiring of Warinner.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh had some of the toughest lines of the past decade at both Stanford and the San Francisco 49ers, the same can not be said to this point during his tenure at Michigan, but this could be the year that all changes.
The way player’s are talking about how they’ve improved, the way they believe in this team and what they aspire to do just feels different than the past few seasons, certainly different than last August.
While Michigan has yet to play a game, this gut-feel isn’t of the blind faith variety, the evidence is right in front of us, these guys look a lot more jacked and muscular. Look at any position group and you’re going to see they added weight, but that weight isn’t body fat, it’s muscle.
Strength and intelligence can take you far in the game of football, and with the combination of Warinner, Herbert, and hard work, battles in the trenches may be won more than they are lost for the Wolverine offensive line in 2018.