Big 10

Drevno looking for continued improvement from offensive line

June 21, 2016

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Mason Cole, who started every game of the past two seasons at left tackle, has moved to center.

Mason Cole, who started every game of the past two seasons at left tackle, has moved to center.
Ruby Wallau/Daily

 

In its final game of the 2015 season, the Michigan football team faced a Florida team that boasted one of the top defenses in the nation.

But the Gators were no match for the Wolverines, who piled on 225 rushing yards and 278 passing yards for a total of 503 en route to a 41-7 victory.

All in all, it was a banner day for the Michigan offense. Now, offensive coordinator Tim Drevno looks to carry that momentum forward into the next season — especially with his offensive line, which is among the most experienced in the nation with a combined 105 starts.

“They’re a year older so once they’re comfortable with me they understand what I’m teaching and what I expect from them,” Drevno said Saturday after the A4 quarterback camp. “You give them a little bit more. But really nothing’s changed the way I’m going to coach them. I’m going to demand (a lot) from them, and (they have to) understand the importance of how (good) we’ve got to be on the offensive line for the team’s success. But it is nicer that they’ve had a lot of games underneath their belt and they’ve played in big venues.”

The Wolverines lost only one starter from last year’s line in former center Graham Glasgow, who was taken in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.

But Michigan didn’t have to look too far for Glasgow’s replacement — junior Mason Cole moved from left tackle, where he started all 25 games the past two seasons and was awarded All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2015, to center during spring practice.

The move appears to have stuck as Drevno — who is also the offensive line coach — believes that Cole’s transition has been seamless thus far.

“Mason’s a very intelligent person,” Drevno said. “He’s got unbelievable football awareness. He’s done a really good job in there. I believe you put your best player at center. He’s making all the calls, and he’s got to be athletic and a quick thinker on his feet.

“(Cole’s) getting comfortable every day (after) doing it through spring ball. He’s progressing really nicely, (and) he’s a good football player.”

Sliding into Cole’s spot at left tackle is sophomore Grant Newsome, who made appearances in four games as a true freshman.

“Grant Newsome (has) done a nice job,” Drevno said. “We felt in the middle of (last) year that he could (come in and) do it, and we feel good about his progress right now.

“One thing with young offensive linemen is just the strength of their body. He’s done a good job of (improving) that this offseason. Like with anyone, there’s a progression with those young offensive linemen, so we give him a different ‘medicine prescription’, just (what) we felt (could) help him progress.”

Though Drevno says the starting line is currently set with Newsome at left tackle and the four returning starters — Cole and fifth-year seniors Erik Magnuson, Ben Braden and Kyle Kalis — he didn’t rule out the possibility of any of Michigan’s three incoming freshman offensive lineman earning playing time.

“I see Michael Onwenu as a guard, I see Ben Bredeson as a guard or center (and) Stephen (Spanellis) is probably a right tackle to start off,” Drevno said. “All of them have a skillset and characteristic you look for, and that’s why they’re here at MIchigan. We’re excited to get them on campus. It’ll be like a New Year’s Day and when training camp starts it’ll be like Christmas Day.

“All three of those guys, they’re going to have the opportunity to come in here and compete for a starting job. Everyday you want to come out and be the best, and those other guys in the room understand that.”

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