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Ann Arbor — The offensive linemen have said since the arrival of coach Ed Warinner that they felt better about their progress and said they would be an asset to the offense this year.

That has panned out since the opening-season loss at Notre Dame.

“I think they’re doing a good job, paying well as a group and individually, each playing the best football of their careers,” Harbaugh said. “Ed Warinner has done a great job and getting a lot of help with the perimeter blocking by the receivers. The backs are really running hard and fullbacks are doing an excellent job blocking; tight ends are, as well.

“It’s well coordinated, its schemed up really good. They practice and work at it, make adjustments.”

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Harbaugh said the second group of offensive linemen isn’t at the same level. There are obvious reasons, namely playing time and lack of game reps, but they’re improving as are the starting five.

“I feel like it’s really come together,” he said. “The obvious reason why it takes longer is it’s not just five guys working together. Trio blocks, double teams, the fullbacks are involved, tight ends are involved. Getting that all orchestrated can take some time.”

Michigan loses a legend

Ron Johnson, Michigan All-American halfback and College Football Hall of Famer, died early Saturday morning in New Jersey. Johnson, 71, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2008.

Johnson was Michigan’s first African-American football captain, selected by his teammates in 1968.

He still holds Michigan single-game records with 347 yards rushing and five touchdowns against Wisconsin on Nov. 16, 1968. Johnson rushed for 1,391 yards and 19 touchdowns during his All-America season. The 19 rushing scores are still a single-season school record at U-M.

Johnson won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football award as the Big Ten’s top player and was the team’s MVP in 1968. He was sixth in Heisman Trophy voting that year.

He finished his Michigan career as the school's leading rusher and is 16th on UM's list with 2,440 yards. He is survived by his wife, Karen.

achengelis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @chengelis

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