Harbaugh Breaks Down Standouts on Both Offensive and Defensive Lines

Harbaugh Breaks Down Standouts on Both Offensive and Defensive Lines

Football

Harbaugh Breaks Down Standouts on Both Offensive and Defensive Lines


Which Michigan football players have stood out on the offensive and defensive lines this offseason?


Harbaugh Breaks Down Standouts on Both Offensive and Defensive Lines

The heart of a football team is in the trenches.

If you can’t play solid football on the offensive or defensive lines, your team is likely in trouble.

As a matter of fact, just ask Michigan — which struggled mightily along the offensive line a year ago, or on the defensive line back during the Rich Rodriguez era (after Brandon Graham graduated in 2008).

With fall camp set to kick off in a mere matter of days, all eyes are on how Michigan will revamp its line play. Of course, the defensive line is mostly set, but there are a lot of questions about the offensive line.

Still, head coach Jim Harbaugh said there have been some surprises this offseason on the defensive line — even if they’re names we’ve heard bandied about in recent memory.

And he suggests that everything in 2018 will come down to how good either unit is for the Wolverines.

“The thing I think about most this time of year is the lines – defensive line, offensive line,” Harbaugh said. “How those two position groups are coming together the most. I feel really good about our defensive line and some guys have really asserted themselves.

“You know about Rashan Gary, you know about Chase Winovich. Michael Dwumfour really had a great spring. Of all of our players, I really thought he was most improved. He had a tremendous summer. The good players have been taking leadership roles, but here comes Mike Dwumfour. Did you really anticipate that, that he was gonna be the kind of force and leader that he’s been this summer. So, that’s good.

“Aubrey Solomon – looks like Aubrey is really coming along and turning the corner as well. And to being a presence inside. Really – that nose tackle position be one that has an identity, has a real presence in the middle. Some good candidates for that to take place.”

While those are guys we’ve heard about, and anticipated starting on the defensive side of the ball, obviously the bigger questions remain on the offensive line.

At this juncture, we have no idea who will start at either tackle position — though we have a good idea about the interior line.

Harbaugh broke down who he feels are the leaders at left and right tackle as well as shared a competition at right guard that may be brewing.

“Offensive line is really showing some signs there of coming together, believing in each other,” Harbaugh said. “(They’re) more experienced. More athletic. I see stronger, see them moving better. Lower and quicker and faster.

“Juwann Bushell-Beatty – to see him more dialed in, more focused. Working harder at it. Losing weight. Putting it on in better spots. Got real high hopes for him.

“Jon Runyan had a tremendous spring. Gonna need him to be that right tackle, and him to consistently do what he’s been doing. Stay healthy this camp, not have any setbacks and just go and be a solid, good right tackle.

“Cesar Ruiz – doing really good.

“Probably some competition at that right guard spot. Mike Onwenu and Steve Spanellis. But, overall, I think it has a chance to be better.”

Of course, the OL will miss the leadership that its former captain, Mason Cole provided. But, Harbaugh pointed to a name that could be that savvy veteran this season.

And it’s an odd one — because — wasn’t he just a freshman? It sure seems like it.

“Mason Cole graduated. I don’t know if we’re going to find as good a guy this year as him. Maybe Ben Bredeson though could be that kind of stalwart like Mason has been. Certainly has a chance. He’s been a starter since he was a freshman as well.

“But, I think they’re coming together. Long story short, I think it’s been a good summer for them. All you can ask is get your best players healthy and in shape in training camp, and you go from there.”

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