Michigan linemen Erik Magnuson, left, and Joey Burzynski both played in last week's loss at Penn State. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)
Michigan is changing its starting offensive line combination again with two new starters at the guard positions.
Joey Burzynski, a redshirt junior, and Erik Magnuson, a redshirt freshman, will move into the lineup for Saturday's game against Indiana at Michigan Stadium, coach Brady Hoke said in a post-practice video Friday on MGoBlue.com.
"Joey is going to step up, did a nice job last week, and so is Erik Magnuson," Hoke said. "They'll be the guards."
Both played in last week's loss at Penn State. Burzynski came in for starter Chris Bryant at left guard, while Magnuson filled in at right tackle after starter Michael Schofield had to move to left tackle to spell injured Taylor Lewan.
Hoke confirmed again in Friday's video that Lewan is healthy and will play against the Hoosiers.
Magnuson, recruited to Michigan as a tackle, worked in at guard this week, Hoke said Wednesday, as he and his staff search for the best five linemen.
After Michigan's backs struggled to gain rushing yards at Penn State — lead back Fitz Toussaint was limited to 27 yards on 27 carries — Hoke said the offensive line would be the subject of his focus this week in practice.
This will be the third starting offensive line combination.
Graham Glasgow started the first four games at left guard but moved to center. Bryant started the last two games at left guard. Redshirt freshman Kyle Kalis started all six games at right guard.
"We had great competition all week," Hoke said. "I think the guys really know they can play better and have to play (better)."
While the offensive line will strive to run the ball against the Hoosiers, the defense will have its hands full with Indiana’s up-tempo offense.
Indiana (3-3, 1-1 Big Ten) enters today’s game with the Big Ten’s most prolific passing offense but also the conference’s worst rushing defense. They haven’t won in Michigan Stadium since 1967 and have lost 32 of the last 33 meetings.
The Hoosiers utilize two quarterbacks, sophomores Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson, and are averaging 331.5 yards passing and are third in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 41.7 points.
But specific personnel aside, this week of preparation for Michigan’s defense has involved dealing with the Hoosiers’ tempo.
Hoke said the preparation for this game isn’t that much different to the rest of the season, although the Wolverines probably won’t see this type of up-tempo style again until they play at Northwestern on Nov. 16.
Hoke runs the offensive demonstration team during practices, and part of keeping things running up-tempo is the fact you get more snaps for the defense.
So practicing for a high-octane offense is nothing new for the Wolverines.
“We do it constantly,” Hoke said. “We’ve got two sets of skill people on both sides, so they’re ready to go. The offense linemen, they do a tremendous job of finishing, and wherever the ball is spotted, I’m running over there — I know it’s hard to believe.
“We go pretty quick.”
Indiana’s offensive threat is the passing game. The Hoosiers average 172.8 rushing yards a game, among the worst in the Big Ten. Tevin Coleman has 557 yards and is tied for the Big Ten lead with eight rushing touchdowns.
The offensive line is struggling with three starters injured.
Still, Sudfeld and Roberson keeps things moving. Roberson is considered the more skilled runner, and Sudfeld has 1,604 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. Both are expected to play today.
Hoke said that the speed of Indiana’s passing attack should not stall Michigan’s efforts at a pass-rush. The Wolverines have 14 sacks this season, including 3.5 credited to Frank Clark.
Time will tell, Hoke said, whether the Hoosiers’ speed will directly affect the rush.
“I’m not going to say it’s harder, because I think you can do it,” Hoke said. “I’ve experienced it being done. It can get you rattled a little bit and sometimes that makes it harder.”
Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison this week reiterated he’s not a stats guy but cautioned that while maybe the Wolverines aren’t piling up big numbers in terms of sacks, he likes the pressure they’ve been able to get at times on opposing quarterbacks.
Hoke was asked this week if he’s pleased with the progress of the pass-rush.
“Would you want to have 10, 15 sacks a game? Yeah, I’d love to,” he said.
The Wolverines also would like to generate a run game, and they just might get that chance today. The Hoosiers are last in the conference in rush defense, yielding an average of 216.5 yards a game. For Michigan, which struggled to gain yards from the tailback position in the four-overtime loss at Penn State, this might be an opportunity to build confidence.
Toussaint had 27 yards on 27 carries in part because of a struggling offensive line, which may or may not undergo yet another change in the starting lineup today. The left guard job has been up for grabs in practice this week.