Khalid Hill was bored.
Though it was nice to have the opportunity to sit out during the majority of the second half of the No. 4 Michigan football team’s 78-0 rout of Rutgers and watch the younger players have a chance to play, the redshirt junior fullback said he’d rather be on the field.
There was no need for Hill to be in the game, though, after the Wolverines went up 43-0 with six touchdowns. Two of those came from Hill himself, and he tacked on another score minutes into the third quarter.
A large part of the rushing success was due to a prolific offensive line, which got off to a less-than-ideal opening. Redshirt sophomore Juwann Bushell-Beatty started his first game at left tackle after sophomore Grant Newsome suffered a season-ending knee injury against Wisconsin, and that may have led to miscommunication on the line.
The Wolverines started with two consecutive three-and-outs, but figured things out quickly and cruised along afterward.
“We kind of came out slow, and then we got it going, obviously,” said fifth-year senior tackle Erik Magnuson. “Any day you have 481 yards rushing and nine rushing (touchdowns), it’s a pretty good day to be an offensive lineman; we’re pretty proud of that. We set a goal of 300 yards rushing for the game, so we had the expectations coming in, but we exceeded that.”
Though he reemerged later in the game, Bushell-Beatty was hit hard on just the second play of the game. He gingerly got up with the help of trainers, but it made fans ponder what exactly would happen if Bushell-Beatty was also injured.
Fifth-year senior guard Ben Braden and junior lineman Mason Cole played a few snaps each at left tackle, and redshirt junior center Patrick Kugler took Cole’s regular spot at center for some time. Luckily for the Wolverines, they’re entering a bye week and will have time to figure out which formation works best.
Despite being banged up, Bushell-Beatty went on to do his part on the offensive line, which didn’t allow a single sack and limited Rutgers to just three tackles for loss. It may have been disastrous if New Jersey native Bushell-Beatty’s season ended in front of his family in the stands.
“He did a real good job,” said redshirt sophomore linebacker Jabrill Peppers after the game. “I was more happy for him because he’s battled a lot of injuries and some weight problems. I’ve been playing with him since high school, so I kinda saw him grow into his own. For him to start in front of the home crowd … he went down early, but he got it together and was able to finish out the game. I was just tremendously ecstatic for him.”
As of now, there’s no report that Bushell-Beatty has any lingering injury issues. If Michigan wants to set up a regular rotation on the offensive line, now would be the time to do it. Though all position groups will work on remaining issues throughout the bye week, the offensive line will need to safeguard against injury while finding the perfect formation.
“That bye is needed,” Hill said. “It’s well-needed, but it’s also coming at a time where we also can’t take too much of an advantage of it, because after this bye week, it’s going to get real. We’re going to take this time and enjoy it, but we’re going to have to still work.”