Holding the Line
The reconfigured Michigan offensive line did not yield any sacks versus Northwestern and the O-Line opened holes that allowed the Wolverines' running backs to rush for 202 yards in the game. This was the first time all season that the starting five of the offensive line had a shakeup. As was discussed in the post of October 23, 2006 (Shift on the O-Line), Rueben Riley- the starting Right Tackle for the first 8 games of the season- was suffering from an injured ankle he hurt in the Iowa game. He was a gametime decision and Coach Carr decided to hold him out. Coach Carr stated in his postgame comments that, "We were able to hold out Reuben Riley today. He could have played today, but we've got to get healthier than we are." With Riley held out the expected shuffle on the right side of the line did in fact occur as starting RG Alex Mitchell moved to Right Tackle and true freshman Justin Boren was inserted into the Right Guard position.
Justin Boren (65) became the fourth true freshman to start along the offensive line at Michigan. Boren joined Bubba Paris (two games, 1978), Tom Dixon (one game, 1980), and Dean Dingman (three games, 1987) as the only true freshmen to make a start on the offensive line for the Wolverines. Boren played well in his debut especially in the running game.
It should be noted that Alex Mitchell left the Northwestern game with an injured hand. However, Coach Carr later stated that he does not expect Mitchell to miss any games as it appears it is an injury Mitchell can play through. As for Riley's return, he should be able to play versus Ball State but there is no reason to rush him back as long as Boren is playing well. As for the left side of the line (C Mark Bihl, LG Adam Kraus, LT Jake Long), they are the best in the game and all three should at least be named All-Big 10 after the season is over. Go Blue!
*Note: Photo of Chad Henne (7) in the pocket created by Jake Long (77), Adam Kraus (57), Justin Boren (65) and Alex Mitchell (on far left of picture) by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News