The Michigan Wolverines rebooted several aspects of the program in the lead-up to the 2021 season. The offense was mostly left untouched compared to the other side of the ball, but the most notable change occurred in the trenches.
Ed Warinner was not retained upon the expiration of his contract, leaving a void at offensive line coach. Jim Harbaugh opted to stay in-house and slide Sherrone Moore over to the line from tight ends coach. He was also given the title of co-offensive coordinator. Given that Moore played on the offensive line at Oklahoma, it seems like a natural fit.
The feedback from Moore’s time coaching the line so far has been positive and a breath of fresh air. But the most important task is still to find the best five guys up front, as their development could be the key to the offense this year.
Here’s a projection for what the two-deep depth chart could look like when the season starts.
Left tackle: Ryan Hayes, senior (6-7, 307 pounds)
Backup: Karsen Barnhart, junior
Hayes is one of the five linemen whose name is in the lineup with a permanent marker. As long as he stays healthy, he will be manning the left side of Michigan’s offensive line. The former high school tight end has filled into his frame and has the size and athleticism to be a pro if he continues to develop.
There’s a chance that Barnhart could still crack the lineup, but he almost certainly would be the first tackle off the bench if there has to be an adjustment somewhere.
Left guard: Trevor Keegan, junior (6-foot-6, 324 pounds)
Backup: Chuck Filiaga, fifth-year senior
Keegan and Filiaga probably make for the biggest coin flip here, but the buzz out of fall camp is that Keegan could be the name to beat right now. Filiaga was another player that was labeled as having “the best offseason of his career” so he still might have something to say about this battle before all is said and done.
Center: Andrew Vastardis, fifth-year senior (6-foot-3, 293 pounds)
Backup: Zak Zinter, sophomore
This is another position that has some versatility to it. Vastardis gets the edge given his experience and standing among the linemen given that he came back for an additional season. Zinter can play center and they have toyed with the possibility of having him there. It is just a matter of deciding who fits in best with their group of five. So far, this is the grouping that has worked together best.
Right Guard: Zak Zinter, sophomore (6-foot-6, 320 pounds)
Backup: Andrew Stueber, fifth-year senior
If the buzz coming out of the football building is accurate, Zinter is too good not to play somewhere on the line. Some coaches have even thrown around the idea that he could be their best offensive player period.
Right Tackle: Andrew Stueber, fifth-year senior (6-foot-7, 338 pounds)
Backup: Karsen Barnhart, junior
Stueber is back in a spot that some believe might be more natural for him after spending time at right guard last season. He could still kick inside and play guard in a scenario where Barnhart cracks the top group. That probably would mean Zinter surpasses or replaces Vastardis due to injury with everyone else sliding over. Still, you can start to see the scenarios play out with how this group is configured.