Michigan is just three weeks away from kicking off against Florida and the offensive line is still a work in progress. Senior Mason Cole and sophomore Ben Bredeson figure to have the left side locked but but the other three spots are still a bit fluid. Senior Patrick Kugler looks like he'll be the guy at center but the right side might completely up in the air. Kugler explains how they're all trying to figure it out so far this fall.
"There’s a rotation and everything," he said. "We’re just trying to find the best five. Everyone is playing a little bit of everything and nothing is set in stone. Coach [Jim] Harbaugh talks about how he’s just trying to find the best guys and camp is a time to weed everyone out. He’ll have to come to a decision at some time and we’ll know and we’ll be ready. Then we’ll mold those five to work together and be cohesive together and then come Florida we’ll be ready."
There a lot of solid options to choose from on the right side. Sophomore Michael Onwenu and freshman Chuck Filiaga are making a lot of noise and at 360 and 340 pounds respectively, it's probably quite loud.
"There are definitely some freaks on the O-line," Kugler said. "You have Mike Onwenu at 350 - 360 pounds who can move like he does. Not many people can do that. [Chuck Filiaga] is going to be a very good player. It’s just about getting in the playbook and learning his stuff. He’s athletic, he’s massive — he’s 6-6 and 340 pounds. Once he gets his paws on you it’s hard to get away from him, that’s for sure.
"As a whole there are people everywhere — young guys, old guys — everyone is improving with their athleticism. It’s just about finding the best five to do the job."
Kugler himself is getting reps at both center and guard and he says he's comfortable at both. It wouldn't matter to him where he lines up, he just wants to improve and help the team.
"I’m playing both [center and guard]," he said. "Everyone is just trying to find the right spots. Whatever it takes to get on the field, that’s what I’ll do. If that’s guard, tackle, tight end, center — I don’t really care. It doesn’t really matter to me. I’m not a tackle but …"
Of course the coaches probably wish there was a starting five set in stone from day one but it rarely works like that. Instead, everyone is getting a chance to perform at multiple spots and Kugler actually thinks that's a better situation.
"I think it’s a positive," he said. "The more you know, the more abilities you have to get into the game. If someone goes down; if X goes down, and Z knows these two positions, you can put him in instead of somebody who just knows one position and you’re stuck with him. I think the more you know, the more opportunity you have to get on the field, which is obviously better.
"If you’re only a right tackle or center you can get stuck knowing just your job but knowing the whole line and what they’re doing makes it all that much easier. If you know what he’s going to do you can adjust to all different blitzes and stuff like that."
No one knows for sure, but many believe that the offensive line will eventually look like this:
LT - Mason Cole
LG - Ben Bredeson
C - Patrick Kugler
RG - Mike Onwenu
RT - Jon Runyan Jr.
Filiaga and fellow freshman center/guard Cesar Ruiz have been impressive since they arrived and redshirt sophomore Nolan Ulizio and redshirt junior Juwann Bushell-Beatty have also been mentioned as potential starters on the right side of the line.