Junior guard Ben Bredeson stepped into the offensive line room to start this summer?s camp in a position he had never experienced before.
With both Mason Cole and Patrick Kugler gone to graduation, Bredeson was suddenly the most trusted member of Michigan?s front five.
?(Mason and Kugler) were seasoned in there and now that it?s my time to step up and be the leader of the room,? Bredeson said. ?They prepped me well, they showed me how to do it.?
Being the leader of an offensive line is an important role anywhere but Bredeson?s importance is heightened for the Wolverines. Michigan?s center ? typically the unit?s leader ? is a sophomore in Cesar Ruiz who didn?t even play the position last year.
The unit as a whole has been much maligned over the past year and a half, taking the blame for a putrid offense last year and for the Wolverines? season opening loss last month.
Bredeson?s task has been to help mentor his younger teammates and those who have been thrust into starting roles for the first time.
?Just be there to help,? Bredeson said. ?That was the biggest thing I took out of being a young guy with some great older mentors was just being there to help so that?s what I?ve been trying to do.?
Given the opposition, it may be a mirage. But the results look good regardless.
Since the nightmarish opener, quarterback Shea Patterson has been sacked just four times and Michigan has rushed for 790 yards, culminating in a dominant 56 point output against Nebraska.
?I do, yeah,? said Bredeson when asked if Saturday was the line?s best performance of the season. ?I think we had a lot of things going for us. I think we were working very well together and just seeing it on film, our double teams were clean, or assignments were good so I was really happy with the way the group played.?
Added coach Jim Harbaugh: ?They were very good, they?re doing very well.?
The coaching staff has echoed that sentiment all offseason, even through the opener.
The difference now is that its on-field results match the press conference platitudes.
Perhaps the most telling sign has been the playing time afforded to the team?s freshman backups?the group on which Bredeson has had his greatest influence.
Freshmen Jalen Mayfield and James Hudson both came in as four stars, as did sophomore Chuck Filiaga. None of the three have established themselves on Ed Warinner?s top choice line but all have proved worthy backups in the Wolverines? plentiful garbage time.
?I?m there to help Chuck and there to help the guys that go in,? Bredeson said. ?Whatever I can do to help somebody, I?m fine doing that.?
He describes Mayfield as well beyond the freshman learning curve and Hudson as the team?s most athletic lineman.
?(Hudson) was just raw (coming in) so just refining the technique down and getting consistency for him is gonna be huge,? Bredeson said. ?I think if we can clear those two things up, the sky?s the limit for him.?
The way its offensive line has developed over the past month, the sky may be the limit for Michigan as a whole. For that, it has Bredeson to thank.