The Wolverine

October 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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38 THE WOLVERINE OCTOBER 2022   MICHIGAN FOOTBALL Five Best Players 1. Sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy McCarthy didn't just win Michigan's quarterback battle — he took the job in convincing fashion and has been the team's top player. He's completed 30 of his 34 pass attempts for 473 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. The La Grange Park, Ill., native has a big arm and has shown it. He's connected on all 4 of his passes of 20-plus air yards for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). The game has slowed down for him, he said, and he's also taken what the defense is willing to give up. He's a near-perfect 23 of 24 for 256 yards on throws within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. 2. Graduate wide receiver Ronnie Bell Bell had 3 dropped passes in the first two games, but he's settling in after missing most of last season with a knee injury and has still been stellar. Michigan's top target has hauled in 14 grabs for 181 yards, both team highs, with 1 touchdown. He's also graded out as the team's top run blocker, per PFF, helping spring his teammates for big gains. Mr. Reliable has been just that in the early going. 3. Junior wide receiver Roman Wilson Wilson scored a touchdown on 3 of his first 4 offensive touches of the season — a 65-yard catch, a 42-yard reception and a 21-yard run on an end-around. Through three games, he's caught 6 passes for 171 yards, ranking second in the coun- try with 28.5 yards per reception. Wilson has proven to be dangerous in the open field. According to PFF, 138 of his 171 receiving yards have come after the catch. 4. Sophomore linebacker Junior Colson The first-team Michigan defense didn't allow a single point in the first three games, and the group was led by Colson. The sophomore has racked up a team-best 17 tackles, including 1 stop behind the line of scrimmage, and has been all over the field. He's the Wolverines' highest-graded defender per PFF (85.1). 5. Junior running back Blake Corum Corum made history against UConn, punching in 5 touch- down runs, which tied Michigan's single-game record with Ron Johnson (1968 vs. Wisconsin) and former teammate Has- san Haskins (2021 vs. Ohio State). For the season, he's found the end zone 7 times, just four shy of his 2021 season total, and he leads the Maize and Blue with 235 rushing yards on 34 attempts. He's added 6 runs of 15-plus yards, the third-most among Big Ten running backs. Key Moment Michigan held a comfortable, 23-0 lead at halftime of its 51-7 win over Colorado State Sept. 3, when senior edge Mike Mor- ris forced a fumble on a strip sack, and senior cornerback D.J. Turner scooped up the ball and ran it back 45 yards for a touch- down. That put the Maize and Blue up by 30 points, all but end- ing the Rams' chances of coming back early in the third quarter. Best Highlight Junior A.J. Henning caught UConn's second-quarter punt at Michigan's 39-yard line Sept. 17, and immediately cut to his left. He broke a few tackles before finding lots of room in the middle of the field, then ran through another would-be tackler, weaved his way through the rest of the pursuing Huskies and found his way into the end zone. The 61-yard return marked the Wolverines' first punt return touchdown since 2018 (Dono- van Peoples-Jones vs. Nebraska). Bold Prediction Michigan was only a four-point favorite over Iowa when FanDuel Sportsbook released an early betting line back in May. The Wolverines have lost four straight at Kinnick Stadium, where they'll take on the Hawkeyes Oct. 1, having not won at the venue since 2005. But Iowa doesn't look like a contender to win the Big Ten West Division — the offense has been brutal, scoring just 13.7 points per game in its first three outings — and we'll say Michigan has multiple other conference games that are closer than what we predict to be a multi-score win over the Hawkeyes. — Clayton Sayfie Superlatives For Michigan's Three Games From Sept. 3 To Sept. 17 Sophomore linebacker Junior Colson (25) has a team-best 17 tack- les, including 1 stop behind the line of scrimmage, and has been all over the field. He's the Wolverines' highest-graded defender (85.1) per Pro Football Focus. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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