Graham Glasgow, left, pictured with offensive line coach Darrell Funk, started the first four games at left guard for Michigan this season. (John T. Greilick / The Detroit News)
Ann Arbor — Earlier in the week, Michigan coach Brady Hoke said production from the Wolverines' offensive line is more important than chemistry.
That is expected to be put to the test Saturday, when 19th-ranked Michigan returns to action after a bye and faces Minnesota at Michigan Stadium to open its Big Ten season.
Hoke and his staff have been evaluating the offensive line personnel and starting combination that has been in place the first four games, and significant changes to the interior will be made.
Redshirt sophomore Graham Glasgow, who started the first four games at left guard, is moving to center, replacing Jack Miller. Chris Bryant, also a redshirt sophomore, will start at left guard against the Gophers.
Hoke, during his weekly news conference Wednesday, said those would be the changes "if we were going to kick the ball off today."
What led to the changes after a 4-0 start that has included two difficult victories against underdogs Akron and UConn? Hoke ruled out any issue of in-game communication between Miller and quarterback Devin Gardner.
"Just competition," Hoke said. "Simple. Competition."
Glasgow is 6-foot-6, 305 pounds, about 2 inches taller and 15 pounds heavier than Miller. He has practiced at center since preseason camp and throughout practices this fall.
"He's a little bigger, rangier," Hoke said of Glasgow. "The weight and strength are all positives, too. He's played center every week, not game day, but every week."
Bryant missed last season after fracturing his leg during camp and he has been slowed a bit at times this season with knee and shoulder problems. He is the healthiest he has been in some time, Hoke said, allowing his move into the starting lineup.
"Chris has been close all year, to be honest with you," Hoke said. "And then, his knee became a problem for three or four days, and then he had a little bit of a nick in the shoulder, a boo-boo, and he's come through that pretty well."
Joey Burzynski and freshman Kyle Bosch could be part of the mix at left guard, as well, the rest of this season.
Brennen Beyer earned high praise from Hoke earlier this week.
"(He) probably is as important a piece to our football team as anybody," Hoke said. "He can do so many different things for you."
Beyer moved from outside linebacker to rush end last season. And this year, after Jake Ryan was injured, Beyer moved into that spot.
"That (versatility is what) makes him ultra-valuable to what you need on your football team," Hoke said.
Beyer said Tuesday night after practice that while at Plymouth High in Canton, he was moved to different positions on both sides of the ball. He played offensive tackle, tight end and wide receiver in addition to defense.
Ryan is targeted for a return to the field this month. Hoke doesn't know when for sure, though. Michigan plays at Penn State on Oct. 12 and against Indiana on Oct. 19 before another bye.
Hoke said Ryan is doing more and more each day in practice, including full-contact drills.
"Oh, yeah, he's been doing that," Hoke said. "We're smart with him, though."
Run game help
Fifth-year senior Fitz Toussaint leads the U-M running backs in carries by … a lot.
Toussaint leads the team with 79 carries and while Gardner is second with 49, the next tailback is backup Derrick Green, a freshman, who has 13 carries.
Refreshed after a Saturday off, Toussaint said Tuesday night he would like to see Green and freshman De'Veon Smith and Thomas Rawls share some of the carries.
Hoke said this week he would like to work in the other backs.
"I definitely think that would help," Toussaint said.