On Aug. 6, a short six-second clip of Michigan players partaking in the famed ‘Oklahoma Drill’ began making rounds on Twitter.
The drill, in its essence, is what football is all about: two players — usually an offensive and defensive lineman — lining up across from each other, mano a mano. It’s up to the offensive lineman to hold his block long enough for a ball carrier to get past his adversary, and it’s up to the defensive lineman to make sure that doesn’t happen.
In this case, it was sophomore left guard Ben Bredeson against freshman nose tackle Aubrey Solomon. And while Bredeson has an entire year of experience on Solomon, it was the younger player who won the drill — tossing Bredeson aside before slamming the running back to the ground.
It was not Bredeson’s finest moment, and perhaps unfortunately for him, the video spread like wildfire, gaining 750 retweets and 1,900 likes.
That didn’t faze Bredeson, though. According to him, the video was merely a small sample of what has been a number of spirited contests against Solomon all throughout fall camp.
“He’s a big strong kid,” Bredeson told reporters Friday night. “We’re glad to have him on our team, and yeah, he got me. … It’s just part of the game. You know, you get beat once in awhile.
“We trade shots every day. We’re taking a lot of reps against each other. I win some, he wins some, goes back and forth.”
For Bredeson, going up against talented players such as Solomon in practice every day is just more of the usual. He’s in the same class as Rashan Gary, the much-hyped sophomore end, and runs into Mo Hurst and Bryan Mone on the interior of the line. Last year, Bredeson said, he faced off against the likes of Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton, both of whom are now in the NFL.
Bredeson has most certainly taken his fair share of bumps and bruises — perhaps in similar fashion to his publicized mishap against Solomon — over the past couple years. But it helps that those come during the week, and not on Saturdays during the fall.
“… Chris Wormley is a big dude — I don’t know if I ever touched his chest during practice,” Bredeson said. “It helps a lot going against guys like him and Mo (Hurst), and you’ve got (Bryan) Mone in the middle and then obviously Rashan (Gary) out on the edge. When you have guys like that on your team and you’re going against them every day, it’s essentially a game every day in practice.”
Practicing against what Bredeson calls “one of the best, if not the best defensive lines in the Big Ten” is sure to result in occasional frustration on the part of the offensive line. But by Bredeson’s account, he and his linemates are doing well. He has spent 15 months with the program now, and that time has allowed him to learn how to play with each of his fellow offensive linemen.
“That extra time together, you build camaraderie, you build that chemistry with them,” Bredeson said. “So you know what they’re going to do, how everybody’s going to react to things, and it just helps in general across the line.”
But better chemistry isn’t the only improvement Bredeson has noticed in his position group.
“I think we’ve definitely gotten a lot more athletic,” Bredeson said, “and we’re moving a lot better.”
While Bredeson declined to name a starting five, it’s clear that he will figure heavily into whichever group Michigan trots out against Florida. He started eight games last year as a true freshman, which leaves him as the second-most experienced returning offensive lineman after senior Mason Cole, and Bredeson said he’s happy with how camp has gone thus far for him — embarrassing videos be damned.
“Making a lot of developments and making a lot of good strides from the spring,” Bredeson said, “so carrying things forward.”
Audio for this interview was provided by Matt Pargoff of Maize and Blue News.