Thursday, December 27, 2012

Offensive Line Preview: Michigan vs. South Carolina

Taylor Lewan will be the best lineman in the Outback Bowl
Starters: From left to right, the Wolverines start redshirt junior Taylor Lewan (6'8", 309 lbs.), fifth year senior Ricky Barnum (6'3", 296 lbs.), fifth year senior Elliott Mealer (6'5", 308 lbs.), fifth year senior Patrick Omameh (6'4", 305 lbs.), and redshirt junior Michael Schofield (6'7", 300 lbs.).  Omameh has started 41 games, Lewan has 27 starts, Schofield has 22, Barnum has 15, and Mealer has 12.  Altogether, they have 117 starts among them and average a shade over 6'5" and 303.6 lbs.  The Wolverines are #25 in the country in sacks allowed (1.25 per game) and have the #40 rushing offense (187 yards/game).
Backups: The Wolverines are very thin on the offensive line, but they've tried to preserve the redshirts of some highly touted freshmen.  Other than redshirt freshman center Jack Miller (6'4", 288 lbs.), the rest of the subs have been walk-ons.  Redshirt sophomore guard Joey Burzynski (6'1", 295 lbs.) has made the biggest push for playing time of the entire backup crew; redshirt sophomore Erik Gunderson (6'8", 303 lbs.) and redshirt junior Kristian Mateus (6'7", 309 lbs.) have both played in blowouts, but both would be severely overmatched against the Gamecocks.

Starters: Michigan recruited redshirt freshman right tackle Brandon Shell (6'6", 331 lbs.) and redshirt sophomore left guard A.J. Cann (6'4", 309 lbs.) coming out of high school.  The line is completed with redshirt sophomore left tackle Corey Robinson (6'8", 337 lbs.), fifth year senior center T.J. Johnson (6'6", 319 lbs.), and junior right guard Ronald Patrick (6'2", 305 lbs.).  Johnson has started 52 games in his career, Cann has 25, Patrick has 12, Shell has 9, and Robinson has 8.  Altogether, the squad has 106 starts under their belts, but the tackles have less than a season of experience, and Robinson was a defensive tackle prior to this year.  They average a bit over 6'5" and 320.2 pounds.  The Gamecocks are #105 in the country in sacks allowed (2.92 per game) and have the #84 rushing offense (143 yards/game).
Backups: Redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Cody Gibson (6'7", 278 lbs.) started a couple games early in the season.  The other backups haven't been used much, including senior offensive guard Kaleb Broome (6'6", 332 lbs.), redshirt junior center Travis Ford (6'3", 278 lbs.), and redshirt freshman offensive guard Will Sport (6'5", 291 lbs.).

Having watched Michigan's offensive line struggle to create a push all year long, it's a little tough to believe, but the Wolverines have the edge here.  Despite being outweighed by an average of almost 17 pounds, Michigan gains more yards on the ground and allows fewer sacks.  They also average a couple more starts each.  Individually, the only South Carolina offensive lineman to garner consideration for All-SEC is Johnson (Second Team), whereas Michigan's Lewan is an All-American and Omameh was selected by the coaches as First Team All-Big Ten.  Except for heft, Michigan is ahead everywhere.
Advantage: Michigan


  1. How do you feel Lewan will do against Clowney?

    1. I don't think Lewan will get embarrassed, but I do think he'll get beaten once or twice. It might also depend on how healthy Lewan is. It sounds like he was dealing with a lower leg injury for the second half of the season, and that might have been what got him beat for the sack against Ohio State. Perhaps the break between OSU and the bowl game will have him near 100% again.