Offensive Line Focused On Protecting Gardner

Can Michigan protect Devin Gardner from MSU stout pass rushing unit?

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Last year’s 29-6 loss at Michigan State was a humbling moment for the Michigan offensive line. A group that gave up minus-48 yards rushing, and had trouble protecting quarterback Devin Gardner, who was sacked seven times by Spartans’ No. 1 defense.

A year later, however, MSU’s defense is not as highly rated, but protecting Gardner is still a major focus for the offensive line as Michigan prepares to take on MSU this Saturday.

“Last year was last year,” redshirt junior center Jack Miller said. “That was a great Michigan State defense. This year looks a little different. The guys, things like that, but the same type of thing. Same type of scheme. And a lot of great players on the defensive side of the ball.” Michigan’s rushing total of minus-48 yards was its lowest total in school history. And with sacks being a heavy part of that of the negative total, stopping negative plays by the QB have been a major focus this week, coach Brady Hoke says.

“I think from a quarterback minus plays, because a big part of that is sacks, protection,” Hoke says. “Making sure you’re not turning a guy lose. Making sure everybody is communicated and on the same page. And quarterback also getting rid of the football.”

Through Michigan’s first seven games, its offensive line unit has only given 15 sacks.

“We take pride every game the amount of pressure Devin gets, or the rushing yards, or whatever we create, all those types of things,” Miller says. “Being a rivalry game, as much as this game means, sure there is a little extra pride that we take into it I guess.”

Michigan (3-4, 1-2 Big Ten) plays at No. 8 MSU (6-1, 3-0) this Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

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