The Wolverine

April 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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30 THE WOLVERINE APRIL 2022 TOP THREE STORYLINES • Complicated Quarterback Situ- ation — U-M's 2022 quarterback battle began in the second half of the Orange Bowl Dec. 31, when sophomore J.J. Mc- Carthy played the majority of the snaps and threw the team's only touchdown of the evening. In the postgame, Harbaugh said the Wolverines won't "make any apologies" for having two "great" quar- terbacks — and the competition was on from there. It hasn't gone as planned this offsea- son, though. McCarthy has been dealing with lingering shoulder soreness from last season and began spring ball by taking reps but not throwing. Redshirt sopho- more Cade McNamara, on the other hand, has gotten the chance to further his case for keeping the starting job that Harbaugh proclaimed is "leased at best." There isn't a known timetable for when McCarthy may become a full participant, so we may not see him April 2. McNamara will likely get the spotlight and can gain a leg up coming out of the spring if he per- forms well, but will leave doubts heading into the summer if he underwhelms. It's also worth keeping an eye on redshirt junior Alan Bowman, who transferred in from Texas Tech before last season but played just 11 snaps a year ago. Whether or not he's a viable backup af- ter dealing with his own injuries throughout his time in college re- mains to be seen, and the spring game will give him some valuable reps to prove himself. Hav- ing a solid third guy — who's one snap away from being the primary backup — is important. • Living Life On The Edge — Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, two pro- jected first-round picks, combined for a school-record 25 sacks last season, and were responsible for 116 of the Wolverines' 269 quarterback pressures (43.1 percent), according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). Both are off to the NFL, and U-M needs fresh blood to emerge at the edge rusher spots. Harbaugh said redshirt sophomore Mike Morris could be the next Hutchin- son or Ojabo, and he headlines a trio that includes redshirt junior Taylor Upshaw and sophomore Jaylen Harrell, who played tertiary roles last season. Morris was a sub-package player last season, seeing time at defensive tackle on pass downs and on the edge in normal situations. He posted 16 tackles, one sack and 14 pressures, according to PFF. Up- shaw dealt with a midseason injury but notched 16 pressures and 2.5 sacks on 199 pass-rushing snaps, while Harrell reg- istered two pressures and no sacks on 36 pass-rushing snaps, being used mostly on run downs. How those three look in their increased roles is a major subplot to watch, even if the whistle will blow before the quarter- backs can get hit. Meanwhile, there are some youngsters who could also impress, including sophomore Braiden McGregor, redshirt freshman TJ Guy and rookie Der- rick Moore, an early enrollee and the sec- ond-highest-rated Wolverine freshman in the On3 rankings. Sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy was dealing with linger- ing shoulder soreness and wasn't throwing at the beginning of spring practice. It was unknown if he would be able to do so when the spring game rolls around April 2. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL MICHIGAN SPRING GAME PREVIEW BY CLAYTON SAYFIE I t'll be the Maize against the Blue April 2 at The Big House, for the first time with fans in the stands since the spring of 2019. Head coach Jim Harbaugh will serve as "commissioner," while co-offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore heads one team and co-defensive coordinator Steve Clinkscale leads the other. The staff will be split, and the two sides will draft their players. "We'll make it as much like a football game as can be made," Harbaugh said on the 'In The Trenches' podcast. The head man can't wait for the competition of the entire event. "[The draft] is something I always pay close attention to," he noted. "Then, you get the real feeling for who deep down [the players think are the best players]. They want to make their teams great. Then there's some back and forth — 'We had a better draft;' 'No, we had a better draft!' "You watch them game plan all week, get them motivated and prepared. There's a lot going into it. Those are the things I really get fired up to watch go down." Here's a look at what we'll be keeping a close eye on when the defending Big Ten champs take the game field for the first time this calendar year:

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