analysis: Michigan's offensive line down to five scholarship reserves, all freshmen, after Chris Bryant injury
Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com
Notable contributors sometimes emerge from one of those groups -- but when one does, he's the exception. These guys typically are lowest on the totem pole, and that's especially true up front, where size matters more than anywhere else.
To that end, there happens to be only two types of reserves on the Michigan football team's offensive line right now: Freshmen. Walk-ons.
And it just lost another.
Redshirt freshman Chris Bryant is done for the season after fracturing his tibia in practice. He was not destined for a starting spot, but was expected to make the two-deep as Patrick Omameh's backup at right guard.
That is a key loss for a front that has only five scholarship players with experience -- and each is starting.
How bad is it? The most experienced scholarship reserve is Jack Miller. He's a redshirt freshman center who has yet to play a down at Michigan.
The backups, with Bryant out of the equation:
- Four true freshmen
- One redshirt freshman
- Five walk-ons
Sophomore walk-on Joey Burzynski, who appears to have lost the left guard battle to senior Elliott Mealer, will be the most pivotal reserve. He likely will back up both guard positions.
Among the true freshman, guard Kyle Kalis is expected to make the two-deep now. Tackles Ben Braden and Erik Magnuson were thought to be strong redshirt candidates, but they could be pressed into duty, particularly if Taylor Lewan or Michael Schofield goes down.
The Wolverines played with similarly thin depth last year. Their most prominent backup, Schofield, was pressed into early duty and performed well after left guard Ricky Barnum was suspended for the opener, then battled various ankle injuries.
Michigan didn't have much else in terms of reserves, but stayed relatively healthy, so it did not become an issue.
After the injury to Bryant -- as well as the departure of senior starters David Molk and Mark Huyge -- it's probable the depth will be worse this year.
Will the Wolverines' injury luck continue?
After losing Bryant, linebacker Kaleb Ringer and defensive end Chris Wormley to season-ending injuries in just the first three weeks of camp, the answer so far appears to be a definitive no.