Heading into his first year with Michigan, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier already faces the task of shaping a trap-door offensive line into a viable Big Ten-quality front.
Replacing Taylor Lewan, an All-American left tackle, and Michael Schofield, an All-Big Ten caliber right tackle, seemed to be priority No. 1 for the Wolverines' newcomer.
Well, that and grooming Graham Glasgow in to a real-deal center during spring exercises.
That was the plan.
However, that plan's been put on a temporary hold.
On Thursday, Graham Glasgow—the presumed starter—was suspended due to a violation of team rules/expectations, per MLive.com’s Nick Baumgardner.
From breaking news, to specifics, then onto the potential aftermath, the following timeline chronicles the developing story.
Graham Glasgow suspended for Appalachian State game, portion of spring for 'violation of team expectations http://t.co/VHFfbdGxNp— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) March 20, 2014
Suspended Michigan football player Graham Glasgow was arrested for driving-related offense http://t.co/RUCuEFZegt— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) March 21, 2014
Patrick Kugler, Jack Miller, Ben Pliska will compete for Michigan's starting center job with Graham Glasgow suspended http://t.co/fHU852saJN— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) March 20, 2014
Team 135’s O-Line needs work.
In all likelihood, Nussmeier, who spent two years with Alabama before relocating to Ann Arbor, was aware that the first time around wasn’t going to be easy. In some cases, addition by subtraction proves beneficial—so there's a chance that the Glasgow ordeal won't derail the course of action.
The fate of the O-Line rests on the shoulders of the players, and hinges on its coach’s ability to juggle, manipulate and adjust while finding a temporary solution to Glasgow’s suspension.
In 2013, quarterback Devin Gardner was sacked 34 times.
Due to the shuffling and inconsistent results, the interior of the line never stood a chance, leaving Lewan and Schofield to take on the majority of the duties.
With or without Glasgow, the need for change in the trenches has never been stronger during the Brady Hoke era.
The following table outlines a list of potential players in the Who Wants to Be a Michigan Center?! Sweepstakes.
Take notice of the startling number in the "starts" column.
|Jack Miller||RS JR||6'4"/297||4|
|Ben Pliska||RS SO||6'3"/277||0|
Bringing it at 'Bama
Carving out quite the reputation for producing NFL-quality linemen, Alabama has been dubbed O-Line University by college football followers at large.
And by ESPN.
Of course, the O-Line is Darrell Funk's responsibility, but Nussmeier is the offensive coordinator and ultimately holds executive power in that department.
@TyTessmer Only guessing, but imagine Nussmeier will have some say in his staff, if not entire offensive line up.— John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) January 9, 2014
The following comes from al.com's Andrew Gribble, who, after confirming the coach's move, highlighted a list of accomplishments that wouldn't have been possible without a robust front reserve.
Under Nussmeier, a Broyles Award nominee who was hired to replace Jim McElwain in 2012, Alabama's offense racked up its biggest numbers of the Nick Saban era. The Crimson Tide averaged 38.2 points and 451.4 yards per game in 2013 and put up similar numbers in 2012, when it won its second consecutive national championship behind a dominant offensive line and shrewd play from quarterback AJ McCarron.
Talent level may slightly differ, but the overall concept is the same—injuries, suspensions, family issues and several other factors contribute to personnel loss. Nussmeier dealt with it in Tuscaloosa, and there's not much evidence suggesting that he won't do the same in Ann Arbor.
In this case, having faith in a coach's resume and technique trumps the possible negative implications associated with losing a player to team violations.
In 2013, the Wolverines averaged a paltry 125.7 rushing yards per outing—ranking No. 102 nationally—and just 247.8 passing yards per game, ranking No. 51, per ESPN.
In reality, just a couple more first downs can separate a top-10 rushing team from a top-100. By season's end, single yards, if not fractions, decide the No. 1 overall spot. Michigan's running game looks as if it's on the cusp of something special.
The Glasgow suspension is a ________ hurdle for Nussmeier.
With De'Veon Smith and Derrick Green—both sophomores—leading the way, Nussmeier stands to collect real estate each time a back touches the ball. However, a reliable offensive line is needed in order to do that.
And in order to get a reliable line, each player has to remain committed to the process of evaluation, not to mention staying available for spring practices, which are of the utmost importance.
Building continuity with Glasgow shouldn't be a problem.
Conversely, adjusting without the redshirt junior who's started 18 times shouldn't be too much to handle for Nussmeier, a coordinator with the credentials to silence the most ardent of critics.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81