Lewan looking for offense to "take next step"

Michigan redshirt junior left tackle Taylor Lewan's maturing nature has been well documented heading into the 2012 season. What Lewan and the rest of the Wolverines hope is that the offense can do the same in year two under Al Borges. Lewan also talks about the frosh OL's and the competition at LG.

When Taylor Lewan arrived on Michigan's campus in the summer of 2009, the Arizona lineman possessed the height of a prototypical left tackle, but definitely not the weight necessary to compete at a high level in the Big Ten Conference. In addition to possessing a slight build, Lewan was often labeled—and rightfully so—as a young man who liked to make people laugh.

Fast forward to 2012 and Lewan is a well-spoken, focused and vocal leader of the Michigan Wolverine football team.

"That's kind of just taking that next step in maturity," said Lewan. "I think the first couple years I had the opportunity to kind of be whatever, and now I've taken that next step. I realize it's not about me, it's about team 133; and my job on this team is to lead this team."

Helping lead the Wolverines into their second go around with training camp under head coach Brady Hoke, Lewan and the offense aren't marveling at the 11-2 mark posted last season. Instead the Michigan offense is working to improve on the success of a year ago.

"Going into your second season with the same offense is nice," said Lewan, "but this offense has to take the next step—and we're still working at that."

"It's just becoming almost flawless, trying to be flawless at our plays and doing everything right," he continued. "At first, it's tough to make that jump in the first year when you're just starting off, but now we have the opportunity to maybe do more things and put more packages in and stuff."

With a lack of depth a concern across the offensive line, some of the road pavers in the 2012 two deep might have the word freshman next to their name.

One of the newest additions to the group up-front is California left tackle Erik Magnuson, someone Lewan has taken under his wing throughout the summer. While both had similar body frames coming out of high school, the new freshman also compares to a younger Lewan off the field.

"He's a funny guy," said Lewan. "He's a laugher. He always likes to laugh, but I got to keep him in check sometimes… believe that or not."

Being in the new position of an upperclassman leader is something Lewan is taking to.

"I like it a lot," he said. "It shows that the coaching staff puts that trust in me to take a younger guy and show him the ropes of ‘This is what you do at Michigan, this is the standard at Michigan' and also help him not just on the field but off the field."

Another much anticipated freshman vying for playing time at left guard is former Lakewood (OH) St. Edward high school star Kyle Kalis. With several on-lookers anticipating the nasty 6'5 newcomer on the field in Ann Arbor, Lewan cautions anyone with too high of expectations for an 18 year old.

"Kyle Kalis is a freshman," said Lewan. "He's still, he's learning how to play real football now. You come to college, it's different. When you come out of high school with all these accolades and all that, you're really just a big body putting yourself on other bodies and moving them cause you're bigger and stronger than everybody. Kyle's really learning how to play the position now and I'm excited about him."

"It's a huge jump," he continued. "Now it's strategic, and you have to put your foot in a certain spot—like three inches different can change the whole play for you. That's why guys are successful and not successful."

As far as who's going to corral the starting left guard spot alongside Lewan, two veteran Wolverines competing for the spot: fifth year senior Elliott Mealer and redshirt sophomore Joey Burzinski. Although they're very different players in stature and style, Lewan is embracing the competition next to him.

"The battle at left guard is a tough situation to talk about, because both players are just as capable as the other," said Lewan. "It's a good problem to have, two guys that are just as capable of being there and playing next to. And I've gotten just about the same amount of reps with each of them."

"They're really good players, both of them," he continued. "Joey Burzinski has built-in leverage—being 6'1, 6'2 he's really good at getting under the guys. Elliott Mealer is a really big body and knows his steps. Both of them are really good and technically sound and really aggressive so I'm really excited to be around them."

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