ANN ARBOR—In their third consecutive start as a five-man unit Michigan’s offensive line had one of the better performances of the season Saturday at Northwestern.
After spending two straight weeks in negative rushing yardage, failing to find a semblance of consistency up front, the Wolverines opened some holes for freshmen tailbacks Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith who combined to rush 27-times for 127-yards including longs of 23 and 16-yards in the absence of senior Fitzgerald Toussaint.
“I think the three guys inside really established the line of scrimmage,” Brady Hoke said Monday. “When you watch the tape, they were able to get started better, our backs were.
“I thought the bubble screen and the fake bubble pulled the linebacker a little bit which made it a little better angle for a guy to combo up to.”
Turning down the opportunity to be a top-10, maybe even top-5 pick in the 2013 NFL draft, senior left tackle Taylor Lewan returned to Michigan to help lead a young, inexperienced crew.
Not envisioning a season with as many struggles as they’ve had as a group, Lewan couldn’t hide his excitement for true freshman left guard Kyle Bosch, redshirt sophomore center Graham Glasgow, and redshirt freshman right guard Erik Magnuson.
“I’m really proud of them,” Lewan said. “Honestly, I know this year hasn’t been the year we’ve wanted, especially on the offensive line but all the experience the guys who have played and one start here, two starts there, that’s going to do so much for them in the future.
“I’m excited for them. A year down the road, two years down the road when they’re the offensive line they want to be.”
After being sacked 14 times the previous two weeks junior quarterback Devin Gardner was taken down twice for 23-yards against the Wildcats.
Overall, heading into Kinnick Stadium to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes (6-4) Saturday at noon, Hoke says the offensive line better be ready for an even greater challenge.
“We weren’t perfect but some of the movement we got at the line of scrimmage (was positive),” Hoke said. “And believe me, that will be tested because of how Iowa plays the line of scrimmage and who they have playing it.
“We’ll be tested, but they got movement and it was really good to see the combination blocks working together.”