Sunday, July 30, 2006

2006 Season Preview: The OL

Who are they?

Jake Long (RS Junior) - perhaps the most talented OL Michigan has had in years, he is coming off an injury plagued sophomore campaign at RT.

Mike Kolodziej (RS Senior) - has been a backup tackle for most of his career, but will get a shot at starting this year.

Mark Bihl (RS Senior) - part-time starter at center for the past 2 years will get a shot at being the full time starter this year.

Adam Kraus (RS Junior) - starter for most of last year at guard and center, and will again see work on the interior line.

Alex Mitchell (RS Sophomore) - former highly touted prep player has only seen limited action his first 2 years in Ann Arbor, but will be making a push for a starting spot this year.

Rueben Riley (RS Senior) - has been a starter for most of the last 2 years bouncing between RT and the guard positions. Not sure where he fits in this year, but he will again be a valuable contributor and likely starter.

There are also youngsters like Brett Gallimore, Mark Ortmann, Jeremy Ciulla, David Moosman, and Cory Zirbel that could compete for PT. Incoming freshmen Justin Boren and Stephen Schilling might be among the best in the nation, but I can't remember the last time a true freshman made an impact on the OL for Michigan.

What to expect?

Offensive line is a tough group to predict this year. They lost Adam Stenavich and Matt Lentz from last year, but also have a bunch of guys coming back from injury. Jake Long is the one constant. If healthy, he is perhaps the most talented offensive lineman in the Big Ten. He'll be the anchor of the line at LT this year. The rest of the line? Your guess is as good as mine. I think Kolodziej and Riley will compete for the RT spot, though Riley has seen quite a bit of PT at guard the past 2 years. Kraus and Bihl are likely front runners for interior spots, leaving either Riley or Alex Mitchell or somebody else to push for the other guard spot.

As you can see, there are lots of question marks surrounding the position this year. In my opinion, however, it is likely the most important position on the team. If they play well, we will have a phenomenal offense this year. Chad Henne will have all day to throw to a fleet of nimble footed receivers and Mike Hart and co. will have huge holes to run through. If they don't? Might not be so pretty and our O will likely turn the ball over more than a few times.

That finishes up the offense. We'll next turn our attention to the other side of the ball with the defensive line.



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