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October 10, 2013Coming into the season, the youth and inexperience of the Michigan interior offensive line was a major concern. In the Wolverines' 42-13 win over Minnesota, they got even younger inside.
But that might prove to be a significantly positive move, going forward.
With the Michigan offense struggling to build consistent drives or get a push up front, coach Brady Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges made the call to flip redshirt sophomore Graham Glasgow from left guard to center and give redshirt sophomore Chris Bryant his first-career start, putting him at left guard beside fifth-year senior left tackle Taylor Lewan.
For Glasgow, the move was a welcome change. Although he showed some promise at the left guard spot, he says he "more comfortable" in the middle.
"I have just played more center over the past year," Glasgow said. "When I first got here, I was a tackle, then I moved to guard, and about this time last year, I started playing mainly center. I wasn't playing guard well, and Coach Funk wanted to see if I could play center OK.
"[Going back to center], I was focused on getting the little technique things down, again, like snapping, stepping and getting the calls and getting the gameplay down more fully. That was probably the biggest challenge in playing center gain. Having to make the calls, the snapping and stepping and making sure you're doing the right things when there's a guy in your face. You're multitasking, and when you can do it, it's good."
Bryant found out the Wednesday before the game that he would be promoted to the No. 1 group. After cycling through several different combinations along the line during the practices of the bye week and leading up to the Minnesota game, the coaches decided that this five was the best option.
"It was amazing to play in front of 110,000 fans, put on that winged helmet and be a starter for Michigan," Bryant said. "It's something that not a lot of people can do, so I'm blessed to have this opportunity and help this team get another victory.
"Before the first snap, I was a little nervous, like anybody would be in front of 11,000 fans for the first time. But after the first snap, it was all gone. I was just playing football again, just like high school. Football is football, no matter what level. It gets faster, but it's still football."
Bryant was held back in the early goings of the season because of some lingering problems stemming from a devastating injury in fall camp of the 2012 season.
In the week leading up to the Alabama game, a player fell and rolled up on Bryant's leg, braking his tibia.
"It was a long process to get back," Bryant said. "Any time you get injured, it's tough. But my teammates kept my spirits lifted, and my parents kept me lifting. I knew what I needed to control what I could control, work on my rehab and get stronger in the weight room."
Bryant made a terrific recovery, but he was still feeling a little soreness in the leg in the early goings of this season, which slowed his ability to crack the starting lineup earlier.
"When you haven't been out working for so long, you can overwork it a little bit," Bryant said. "It swelled up a little, but it wasn't too bad. I just had to ice it, get treatment and take care of it.
"Once I was healthy and able to go, that was the biggest thing. I was a little dinged up at the beginning of the season. Since I didn't play those games, I was able to heal up a little bit, and now that I'm healthy, I have to play hard and physical."
Glasgow, who started the first four games of the season in Bryant's new spot, was encouraged by what he saw from the new left guard.
"The kid can pull and hit, and he's physical," Glasgow said. "He has a couple little technique things he has to work out, but he can play.
"There were a couple times during the game where he was maybe messing up a little technique thing at guard, and I'd tell him something like, 'You need to step with the play-side foot first, then you can go.' He understands what he needs to do, it's just a matter of how to do it, and that' where I can help Chris when we're on a drive or on the sideline."