Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY

De'Veon Smith notes bigger running lanes, more physicality to offensive line improvement

Running back De'Veon Smith notes an improved offensive line in Michigan's 31-0 victory over BYU.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The 31-0 victory over 22nd-ranked BYU showed potential flashes of what a well-oiled machine Michigan could be when everything is working in unison.

One player who worked hard to keep the offense moving was running back De'Veon Smith. Finishing the day with 125 yards and a highlight reel touchdown, he knew he wasn't going to be denied of a touchdown.

"To be honest I thought I was down for a second but then I put my hand down," Smith said. "Once I got to the second level I knew for a fact that I was not letting number 15 tackle me. So that made me want to score even more."

What exactly has helped the running backs exceed expectations four games into the 2015 season? According to Smith, he cites an improved offensive line that has placed emphasis on being physical.

"To me the running lanes are getting bigger and better," Smith said. "I'll say that they're definitely being more physical than we were in the first week from pass protecting to running the ball. That's probably the biggest difference for me and making sure Jake (Rudock) is off the ground."

The offensive line has played its part in keeping Rudock off the ground. Surrendering two sacks on Saturday, it marked only the third time this season that the offensive line has given up a sack in four games. Quite the turnaround from a season ago.

On a personal level, Smith credits his improvement from week one of the season till now by attending offensive line meetings. He says the short 15 minute meetings have helped him with vision and to better understand running lanes.

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