ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan’s offensive line has been anything but consistent over the last two seasons.
Unable to generate a push up front for the rushing attack and failing to protect the Wolverines’ quarterbacks, that sort of combination is a recipe for disaster for football teams.
This spring the group has been working under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Tim Drevno. Drevno, who coached with Jim Harbaugh in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers for four seasons, is bring that experience to Ann Arbor.
“I kind of look at it as an NFL approach because on game day sometimes you only suit up seven to eight guys and there might be, you might only keep nine on the roster on the offensive line,” Drevno said.
“There always has to be versatility. A guy that plays guard can’t just play guard, he’s got to play center and guard so I’m always looking through that lens of trying to make things better and always have a plan.
Drevno already put this strategy to work throughout 14 spring practices leading up to Saturday’s spring football game at Michigan Stadium.
Following a suspension of senior interior lineman Graham Glasgow, who was primarily working at center this spring, Drevno moved sophomore left tackle Mason Cole to the middle prior to Glasgow’s return to the practice field.
“We put in Mason in there a little which was good and good for Mason,” Drevno said. “He’s an athletic guy and he did some really, really good things there. That’s good for Mason and good for Michigan.”
“Looking down the road, will Mason be a center?” Drevno asked. “I can’t answer that now, but I’ve got a good look at him and it’s our job as coaches to evaluate everyday, our roster, and what we have.”
After starting all 12 games at left tackle for Michigan as a true freshman in 2014, Drevno praised the Florida native’s mental approach to the game.
“That’s one thing, you look at him in the eye and he doesn’t flinch one bit,” Drevno said. “He just looks at you and it’s not a big deal to him. He’s done a nice job and that’s something you look for in a football player.
“When you say, ‘hey, you’ve got to do this, do that,’ you don’t want a guy that stands there and looks at you like this, you want a guy that looks you right straight in the eye and says, ‘I got you coach.’ Those are the guys you want, you want the guys that are confident and be able to execute at a high level so, it’s exciting.”
With Glasgow now back in practice, Drevno says Cole is being moved around, taking reps at several different positions.
Overall, Drevno believes his unit is making significant progress this spring.
“The offensive line, they’re doing good,” Drevno said. “They’ve taken another step forward which we’ve foreseen them to do and they’re on track.
“I think finishing up the Thursday practice and Saturday practice and pushing into the strength and conditioning phase and then going on into training camp, they’re right on track and they’re taking steps forward which is really exciting.”
Still months away from fall camp, Drevno doesn’t believe he has his five offensive linemen set in stone just yet.
“Not right now, I don’t,” Drevno said. “They’re all competing and they’re all doing good. We’re not ready to name any starters and we’ll see that as we push on.”
“I’m not satisfied,” Drevno added. “You’re never satisfied but I like where they are now and I like where we’re going. We’re right on point, which is important.”