Looking for a possible reason for Michigan's sluggish 7-6 season in 2013? Former offensive lineman Taylor Lewan says the team got too comfortable after beating Notre Dame.
When the teams met in the second week in the season (and for potentially the last time at Michigan Stadium), both were ranked in the top 20 and Michigan sealed the 41-30 win on national television in Ann Arbor, Mich. with a four-yard touchdown pass from Devon Gardner to Drew Dileo.
“I think our team got a little too comfortable,” Lewan said on Bill King's SiriusXM show Tuesday morning (via the Detroit Free-Press.) “We all had the same feeling as the rest of the country after the Notre Dame game: We thought we were there. That was an issue. No matter if you’re in college, NFL or high school, you can’t be comfortable at any point in the season, or that’s when things are going to go downhill.”
Following the game, Michigan was No. 11 in the AP poll. It was the highest the Wolverines would be all season. The week after the Notre Dame win, the Wolverines almost lost to Akron at home and then pulled out a game on the road at Connecticut. A 43-40 four-overtime loss to Penn State started a 2-6 end to the season for Michigan.
While Michigan gave up almost 29 points per game in 2013, which ranked 67th in the country, much of the blame for the team's struggles centered around the Wolverines' inability to run the ball. With a rotating cast of characters in the backfield and on the line, Michigan was 102nd in FBS with just 126 yards rushing a game.
And while they return much of the interior next year, Lewan, the 11th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans, needs to be replaced.
“It was just tough; we had a lot of young guys who didn’t have that much experience,” Lewan said of the middle of the offensive line. “When I first came to Michigan, our tackles were inexperienced, our interior is what was really geared. So it flipped from when I was a freshman. It was difficult. I played with five different guards the entire year, but I think this year will be a lot better, and a bunch of guys got a lot of experience. They know what it’s like to play in a college game, so they should be all right.”
In an effort to get the running game going in 2014, Michigan parted ways with offensive coordinator Al Borges and hired offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier from Alabama. In March, RB De'Veon Smith said Nussmeier's run game, which was highly successful at Alabama, was easier to understand. Will that mean more production in 2014?
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