Shift on the O-Line
Michigan has had amazing consistency on the offensive line this season as the same five players have started each game: LT Jake Long; LG Adam Kraus; C Mark Bihl; RG Alex Mitchell; RT Rueben Riley. The offensive line has played well this year as it has yielded only 12 sacks in 8 games and Wolverine ballcarriers are averaging more than four yards per carry. However, with the injury that Riley suffered during the second half of the Iowa game it looks like the starting lineup will have a different look this Saturday. When Riley was pulled against the Hawkeyes, Mitchell switched over to Right Tackle and true freshman Justin Boren came in and took over at Right Guard. Boren is the first true freshman to play on the offensive line while Lloyd Carr has been the Head Coach at Michigan. Although still a true freshman, Boren was an early enrollee and the extra practice may have landed him his spot on the field. Just look at this quote from Coach Carr from today's press conference:
"I think he did extremely well. I don't think you could ask more of a true freshman lineman than what Justin did in there. He made some mistakes, but he'll learn from that. And to be able to -- the thing about getting an opportunity to play, in most cases you don't know when it's coming. And so often, because you maybe don't expect to play, or you go out there two, three, four games and you don't get to play because nothing happens."
"All of a sudden somebody goes down and you have got about three seconds to think about it before they call your name and tell you to go in the game. So to be prepared and do as well as he did, I think, speaks highly of his motivation. He would be much further along had he not missed the last six weeks. He's missed a lot of practice this fall. I don't think he could have done what he is doing or what he did Saturday had he not been here last spring."
Riley's status for the Northwestern game is still uncertain. However, with the emergence of Boren it is unlikely that the Wolverines will rush Riley back. Thus, the Wolverines will probably have a new starting five on the offensive line for the first time this season. This game will give the reconfigured right side of the line valuable experience. Go Blue!