Junior Jack Allen enters the 2014 season as a third-year starter on Michigan State's offensive line. (Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images)
Michigan’s rushing offense ranked 11th in the then-12-team Big Ten last season, averaging 125.7 yards per game. In addition, Michigan quarterbacks were sacked 36 times in 2013 – a total eclipsed only by Purdue, which surrendered 38.
So it was no surprise that Big Ten Network senior writer Tom Dienhart sees the Wolverines’ offensive line as a work in progress, and ranks U-M’s OL seventh in the conference, behind Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Minnesota, Michigan State and Nebraska.
“The Wolverines had one of their worst offenses in over 50 years. … And a big reason for that was poor line play,” Dienhart writes in another edition of his Big Ten unit rankings. “There seemingly are some good parts to build around on the interior in Kyle Bosch, Kyle Kalis and Graham Glasgow. Erik Magnuson is first up at left tackle. A new right tackle also is needed. The good news: There is one way to go: up.”
Dienhart ranks the Spartans’ OL fifth and calls the unit “mean, nasty, tough.” MSU’s rush offense was eighth in the Big Ten (173.8) and the Spartans gave up 17 sacks, tied for third in the Big Ten.
Dienhart: “Center Jack Allen and left tackle Jack Conklin are among the best in the Big Ten at their positions. Mean, nasty, tough … they epitomize Spartan football under (Mark) Dantonio. Right tackle Kodi Kieler looks primed to be a star. Left guard Travis Jackson is a veteran hand and ex-center.”
In a previous unit ranking of offensive backfields, Dienhart put the Spartans second and the Wolverines 11th.
TOM DIENHART’S RANKINGS
3. Ohio State
5. Michigan State
9. Penn State