The Wolverine

August 2022*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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26 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2022 BY CLAYTON SAYFIE M ichigan male sports teams enjoyed plenty of success in 2021-22, none more than head coach Jim Harbaugh's football squad. The Wolverines entered the campaign under the radar, unranked in the Associ- ated Press preseason poll for the first time since 2015, Harbaugh's first season at the helm. They rattled off a 12-2 record, won their first Big Ten title since 2004 and became the first team to begin a campaign un- ranked and earn a berth in the College Football Playoff. (It was also U-M's first CFP appearance in the four-team playoff, which began in 2014.) Harbaugh replaced six of his 10 assis- tant coaches during the prior offseason, including bringing in Mike Macdonald, a first-time play-caller, to lead the defense, after Don Brown was released following his fifth season at U-M. The seventh-year head coach returned to his roots on offense, relying on a strong rushing attack and taking what the de- fense gave them through the air. U-M averaged 214.4 rushing yards per game, which ranked 15th in the nation, on 41.1 attempts (23rd). The Wolverines ran for 335 or more yards each of their first three contests — wins over Western Michigan (47-14), Washington (31-10) and Northern Illinois (63-10) — establishing a smashmouth identity. They rushed for 200-plus yards in seven contests and only failed to eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark once (versus Georgia in the Orange Bowl). Senior running back Hassan Haskins ran for 1,327 yards and a program-record 20 touchdowns. The former mark was the highest by a Wolverine running back since his position coach, U-M's all-time leading rusher Mike Hart, racked up 1,361 in 2007. Speedy sophomore running back Blake Corum missed two full games with an ankle injury, but still registered 952 yards and 11 scores on the ground, with the duo forming a two-headed monster dubbed "Thunder (Haskins) and Lightning (Co- rum)." The offensive line received the Joe Moore Award, given to the nation's best O-line, and paved the way for the Maize and Blue runners, allowing just 2.4 tackles for loss (best in the country) and 0.5 sacks per outing (fifth). All five starting offensive linemen earned All-Big Ten honors. Graduate right tackle Andrew Stueber was a first- team selection (media) and was named a second-team All-American by the Ameri- can Football Coaches Association, while senior left tackle Ryan Hayes (coaches), graduate center Andrew Vastardis and sophomore right guard Zak Zinter (me- dia) were second-team All-Big Ten hon- orees. Junior left guard Trevor Keegan was named All-Big Ten honorable mention. Junior quarterback Cade McNamara started all 14 games, and proved to be a reliable leader for a unit that scored 35.8 points (16th nationally) and recorded 443.1 total yards (24th) per contest. He threw for 2,576 yards and 15 touchdowns with 6 interceptions on the year. U-M won its first seven games, marking its best start since beginning 9-0 in 2016. Two gritty performances highlighted that stretch — road wins at Wisconsin (38-17) and Nebraska (32-29). The Wolverines hadn't won in Madison since 2001, and there they exorcised the first of several demons in 2021. The next week in Lincoln, it took four field goals SMASHING SUCCESS Football Team Pounded Its Way To Big Ten Title, College Football Playoff MALE TEAM OF THE YEAR FOOTBALL Michigan clamped down on receiver Garrett Wilson and his Ohio State teammates, holding the Buckeyes to their second-lowest point total of the season in a 42-27 victory. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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