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Offensive line depth chart comes into focus, contingency plan revealed in case of COVID

There are contingency plans for a COVID-impacted unit, as well.

Army v Michigan Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines football program has done about a good a job as one can mitigating the spread of the coronavirus within Schembechler Hall, but given the climate that we are currently in, it can come for anyone and nobody is exempt from exposure.

Because of that, football teams across the country at every level of the sport have had to get used to adjusting on the fly in a case where positive cases affect the roster and specific position units. There might not be a position on the field more important chemistry and makeup-wise than the offensive line. Michigan assistant Ed Warriner revealed on Wednesday how he has handled this group and is preparing for anything that comes their way during the pandemic.

“Those guys do operate in proximity in practice,” Warinner said. “What I’ve done in non-practice is split them up. Between the first team and the second team, they’re not all in the same room. There’s five of them between the first and second unit in one room and five between the first and second unit in the other room. If, for some reason, one room got COVID and they declared that room couldn’t play for three weeks, the other room I still think could win the game because there’s at least two or three starters in each room and the next best player. We have it all matched up. Hopefully that’ll come to be the case. We did do a lot of rotating until this past week with who was in with the ones and who was in with the twos. It wouldn’t be like, oh, I’ve never been in with the ones. (center) Zach Carpenter has been in with the ones. (tackle Karsen Barnhart) has been in the ones a lot. (guard) Trevor Keegan has been in with the ones. (Guard) Zak Zinter has even been in with the ones. They’ve all been in the one huddle for weeks rolling through there in case any of them have to go through the one huddle. They’re ready for that and they’re used to it.

“We actually do some rotating in practice. I did some Saturday, rotated some guys in the one group just for that same reason. We’re doing such a good job at Michigan internally in this building in terms of our training, our medical staff, our protocols, our social distancing. Our cleanliness, our cleaning. The offensive lineman come into our meeting room, there’s Clorox wipes. We wipe everything down before the meeting, we have social distancing and we wipe everything down when we leave the meeting. There’s nothing touched in there by those guys that isn’t cleaned off. We’re trying to do it right and I make them wear their mask at practice. They wear shields on their facemasks. There’s spray. I’m a pain in the butt about it, I only let three guys go to water at a time so they’re not all over by the water. We’re trying to preserve our chances with playing with a full deck every week.”

The protocols in place provide some peace of mind that Michigan feels it is deep enough should an unfortunate circumstance arise. It also paints a pretty clear picture of how the starting group looks and who is next in line to replace people at certain spots.

As of now, the starting five is locked in with Ryan Hayes at left tackle, Chuck Filiaga at left guard, Andrew Vastardis at center, Andrew Stueber at right guard and Jalen Mayfield at right tackle. Given Warinner’s comments and other feedback from throughout fall camp, Karsen Barnhart is going to come off the bench as the first tackle into the game, while Trevor Keegan and Zak Zinter are set as the backup guards. These are the players that likely make up the two mixed groups he was referencing.

Offensive Line Depth Chart

Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
Ryan Hayes (RS So.), 6-7, 302 Chuck Filiaga (RS Jr.), 6-6, 345 Andrew Vastardis (RS Sr.), 6-3, 296 Andrew Stueber (RS Jr.), 6-7, 340 Jalen Mayfield (RS So.), 6-5, 320
Karsen Barnhart (RS Fr.), 6-4, 301 Zak Zinter (Fr.), 6-6, 335 Zach Carpenter (RS Fr.), 6-5, 330 Trevor Keegan (RS Fr.), 6-6, 337 Trente Jones (RS Fr.), 6-4, 305
Nolan Rumler (RS Fr.), 6-3, 328

Right behind them are tackle Trente Jones and Nolan Rumler on the inside, who right now are just a step below everyone else according to Warinner. Both have been dealing with bumps in the road on the development side of things.

“Trente is running with the twos, and he’s really come a long way. His trajectory, the biggest thing we tell Trente is he has the ability, he plays fast, consistency,” Warinner said. “When he becomes the same guy every day, holy cow! I think we’ll have something there. But he’ll have days where he has wow days and other days, not so good. So we’re really trying to develop consistency. But you can see it’s in him. And it’s just a matter of coming in mentally and being consistent physically. He’s on a good trajectory. For a redshirt freshman, he’s right where most redshirt freshmen are. Kinda in the wings, kind of – not having a spring ball hurt him. It would have been fantastic for him to have a spring. But I see his future is still glowing brightly.

“Nolan was running and doing a lot of good things with the twos, but then he’s had a couple little injuries here that have set him back. He’s been slowed down just a little bit. But nothing permanent. He’s gonna start working into practice, but last week and this week, he hasn’t practiced much. Minor things have kind of slowed him. He’s doing fine, too. He would have a lot of quality reps with the twos in camp at guard, playing guard, playing right guard. His time will come, too. His time will come.”