ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan ended last season playing smash-mouth run-style offense, as the Wolverines dominated Florida’s top-rated defense in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, 41-7, rushing for 225 yards in the win.
While the win was the ultimate goal, having such a positive rushing performance against Florida can be seen as a confidence builder for the offensive line, right? Especially, considering U-M's offensive line struggled opening holes for runners down the stretch run of Big Ten play.
And so far, that seems to be the case, says fifth-year senior Erik Magnuson, who noted the offensive line as whole is “definitely” more confident as they prepare for their 2016 season.
“That game was just big -- I think for our confidence -- because they were an SEC school and they had a good defense,” Magnuson said. “They had pretty good stats and all those type of things. And for us to go in there and put together the game that we did, I felt our offensive line really played well and built our confidence a lot.”
What was the major difference between playing Florida versus the rest of U-M’s Big Ten play?
Well, for starters, Magnuson pointed the O-line’s opportunity to mesh together for an extra month of practice before the bowl game – but mostly – it was just getting healthy, he says.
“Combination of everything,” Magnuson said of U-M’s Citrus Bowl rushing performance. “We were healthy, that’s the biggest thing. We had a month to prepare. That was the first time that everyone knew the offense, everyone knew what they were supposed to do. So that entire month off was focused on playing faster, more physical, everyone was on the same page. So that was the biggest thing.
“We ended the season on a high note, but we got take it into the next step from there. … The way we played against Florida is the very bottom; we can go even higher than that.”
Michigan plays its annual spring game on Friday even April 1.