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Film Review: How Michigan’s big fellas dominated Notre Dame defense

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The offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage throughout the Wolverines 45-14 blowout win over Notre Dame

Notre Dame v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines have been cooking offensively over the last 6 quarters of football that they played. A big reason for it is because of the big guys at the front of the Michigan offense who dominated the line of scrimmage in the 45-14 blowout victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday.

The offensive line was expected to be one of the best in the country heading into the season, but they through the first half of the season they underperformed under a new offensive coordinator. They ranked towards the middle of the pack in the country heading into this week’s game against Notre Dame.

However, Saturday was collectively their best game of the season. The Wolverines moved the ball for 303 yards on the ground with the great help of the guys up front.

It started early on this 35 yard run by Zach Charbonnet that put Michigan in the redzone for the first time in the game:

The play design here is excellent. The offensive line plays this as if the play is split right down the middle of the field. Patterson hands the ball off, but then pump fakes on the RPO-pass option on a screen to Mike Sainristil. On the screen-pass side of the field, Ben Bredeson and Jon Runyan allow their guys to get into the backfield (like you would on a screen) and focus on blocking for the run on the right side. Bredeson moves up to the next level along with Cesar Ruiz to get to the linebackers, and Charbonnet has a massive hole with every player blocked on the right side of the field. The Wolverines nearly scored on this perfectly executed play.

A very similarly blocked play happened later in the quarter, but this time on a straight run right.

Ruiz blocks the Fighting Irish nose tackle on the left side and clears him from the play. Bredeson pulls and is a lead blocker for Hassan Haskins, Runyan doesn’t block anyone on the left side of the line, and moves straight into the second level. The Wolverines count on Haskins to be faster than any rusher on the weak side of the play, and they are dead on. Notre Dame’ No. 53 Khalid Kareem is just a step late as Haskins sheds a weak tackle attempt, and bust one open for 35 yards.

If you pause at 5:46, you will see Bredeson, Michael Onwenu, Jalen Mayfield, and Runyan have made a wall that created a huge hole for Haskins to run through. It was once again a perfectly executed play by the big fella’s up front.

The pinnacle of the utter butt-whooping that the Wolverines’ offensive-line put on Notre Dame’s defense was on the goal line in the second quarter.

It’s second and one, and this is the score that really broke this game open. Every offensive lineman for Michigan blocks to the left and every single one wins the battle at the line of scrimmage. All Charbonnet has to do is walk towards the line of scrimmage and put his head down for an easy touchdown, and a 17-0 lead.

Haskins had yet another big play on a 49-yard run down into the redzone that led to a touchdown.

The O-line opens up a big hole, again, as Haskins cuts back to the right. Bredeson gets a pancake block at the top of the screen as Ruiz and Onwenu open up some running room that leaves Haskins with a one-on-one with a safety. Haskins wins, and the result is another big play on the ground for the Wolverines.

Something has clicked in Michigan’s offensive line play. They are playing with a ferocious mentality that we haven’t seen up until this game against Notre Dame. I mean look at this block from Stephan Spenellis:

He DESTROYED this Notre Dame defender, blocked him almost 20 yards down the field, well out of bounds, and pancaked him to seal it off.

The Michigan offensive line was the biggest reason that the Wolverines pulled away victorious over Notre Dame on Saturday. These were just a couple examples of a truly masterful performance that they had as a unit. Ed Warriner really has his guys working right now, and if they can continue to play like this, the Wolverines will be able to compete with even the toughest opponents remaining on their schedule.