UM offense tired of playing second fiddle to defense

April 7, 2018 GMT

Ann Arbor —  Among the most consistent themes this Michigan spring practice has been the offensive players saying they won’t be pushed around anymore by anyone at any time.

While the Wolverines’ 8-5 season last year wasn’t entirely a product of the offensive performance, there is plenty of evidence that suggests it played a major role in the overall issues. Part of that can be blamed on injuries at quarterback — three played last fall — the ups and downs of the offensive line and run game and the loss of a key receiver to injury early in the season.

Tight end Sean McKeon said this week the team overall has been motivated by that finish but the offense, in particular, is sick of feeling like the reason the Wolverines can’t quite take that next big step.

“We don’t want to repeat that, we want to get better,” McKeon said. “We’re sick of the defense pushing us around in practice, so we’re not going to let that happen anymore.”

Has that been going on in spring practice?

“No,” he said with meaning. “We’re not letting that happen.”

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It hasn’t just been an attitude adjustment among the players. There are new offensive coaches — receivers coach Jim McElwain, Ed Warinner who handles the offensive line and Sherrone Moore who coaches the tight ends — along with new strength coach Ben Herbert.

The players have suggested a reset button has been hit, and they feel refreshed by the new coaching blood.

“Just new attitudes from the coaching staff, the strength staff really getting us going, getting us competing hard against each other,” McKeon said. “As an offense as a whole, we just want to be better. That’s what we’ve got to do is be better.”

McKeon described a “real team mentality” in the weight room. Players are held accountable otherwise there are “consequences.” Sometimes that means coming in and going through an extra workout.

And they’re getting leadership on offense from older players like Karan Higdon and Ben Bredeson.

“The whole team has really bought in,” McKeon said. “I feel like we’ve really come together as a team, as a unit. And, you know, last year really motivated us to be better this year.”