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Improved offensive line is pacing Wolverines

Michigan football has seen dramatic improvement along the offensive line and the play of the tackles has been a huge part of that.

Last season the Michigan football offensive tackles were well offensive. Jon Runyan Jr., Juwann Bushell-Beatty and Nolan Ulizio ranked 148th, 167th and 197th in pass-blocking efficiency, allowing 32 pressures in 13 combined games. And that was at left tackle. The right tackles were not much better.

As the season kicked off tackle was a HUGE question mark. If the players did not take a step forward it could have been 8-5 all over again. To the delight of Michigan football fans and coaches, the offensive tackles have been very good.

Yes, Jon Runyan still needs to be more consistent. But this season you can actually see he is better than last season. The tackles have paved the way for running back Karan Higdon and the other Wolverine running backs, while keeping quarterback Shea Patterson on his feet and with plenty of time to make passes.

It has had a trickle-down effect on the entire team. Better run blocking and pass protection has allowed Michigan’s top-ranked defense to have rest and be fresh for the entire game. No more wearing down.

In my opinion, this has been the key area of improvement for the whole team. Many will point to (and rightfully so) Patterson, who has been a difference maker at quarterback. But it is the offensive tackles play that has breathed life into the rest of the team. Giving Patterson and Co time to do their thing.

It is amazing what a balanced line that sustains blocks can do for a team. It means the difference between a mediocre record and a much better record that can lead to a major Bowl Game or better. So far, so good.

It is not a coincidence stabilized tackle play has elevated the rest of the team. One unit means that much to the entire team. When all units are doing their job the team hums along. That is where Jim Harbaugh has the Wolverines. Humming right along.

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We will know more in a couple weeks. When the “Revenge Tour” rolls into Columbus. That game I am sure has been circled for sometime. It will be a game where the new look tackles can shine. “The Game” on the road. Michigan would have it no other way.



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