Ann Arbor — Michigan’s offensive line has been the subject of countless stories the last several years. And not of the positive variety.
This season, under the direction of coach Ed Warinner and a renewed approach, the line is working to become a group that can control the trenches. It’s not there yet, but they’re making ground.
In a 56-10 victory over Nebraska in the Big Ten opener on Saturday at Michigan Stadium, the Wolverines rushed for 285 yards. Karan Higdon led the way with 136 yards on 12 carries and scored a touchdown and fullback Ben Mason scored three touchdowns. Michigan averaged 6.3 yards a carry.
Since rushing for 58 yards at Notre Dame in the season opener, Michigan rushed for 308 yards against Western Michigan and 197 against SMU. Against Nebraska, Michigan’s offensive line looked like it had taken a bigger step toward improvement.
“Really ran the ball well,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Protected the passer extremely well. Did a good job in all the plays. Really good moving the (and) controlling the line of scrimmage. In all phases I thought the offensive line played extremely well. Maybe their best game.”
Mason said the line gave him plenty of room to run.
“That was great,” Mason said. “As an offensive line today they were really pushing people off the ball and making enormous holes for backs to run through. It was a great thing to see for the offense.”
UM guard Ben Bredeson on wanting to win the physicality battle The Detroit News
Left guard Ben Bredeson, a team co-captain and three-year starter, said the offensive line had a clear goal against the Cornhuskers.
“We were definitely going to win the physicality battle,” Bredeson said. “We were feeling really good as an offensive unit. We were feeling good about the holes we were making and the backs were finishing them. We were happy with it.”
The line had a push the entire game, according to Bredeson.
“I felt like we were really moving them around and as a group we were coming to the sidelines with some good comments," he said. "Our game plan was sound and we were able to execute on them."
Four games in and no changes to the offensive line, the group feels good.
“We’ve always been pretty cohesive, but today was a good step forward,” Bredeson said.
From the Notre Dame game through Nebraska, Bredeson said he has seen the most improvement in how they’re communicating as a line.
“We’re able to make adjustments,” he said. “Also, just working together on our combinations. I feel like we’re getting a lot better push when we get two guys together than we were early on in the season against Notre Dame
“Obviously, it wasn’t a good feeling losing to Notre Dame in the opener. We just had to come back and find what we were doing right, what we were doing wrong. I think we’ve been hitting our stride lately and today was a great step forward for us. It was a fun game being able to push some people around and break some big runs and celebrate a little bit. It was a fun day.”