The Wolverine

October 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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10 THE WOLVERINE OCTOBER 2022   INSIDE MICHIGAN ATHLETICS Michigan junior Kalel Mullings tinkered with playing running back in addition to linebacker in the spring, but freshman C.J. Stokes' emer- gence at the former and some injuries at the lat- ter had him back playing defense in fall camp. Mullings answered questions recently for this Q&A, talking about his two-way experiment, the U-M defense and more: The Wolverine: What was your schedule like in the spring, and what did you learn from play- ing some running back? Kalel Mullings: "I'd go one day on defense, then the next day I'd be on offense … with the plan of being a two-way player. Playing running back was tough, but it was also helpful. Just being able to understand our offense and of- fensive schemes and the way offensive players think and the way their minds work from being in that position … it helped me a lot. "My blitzes, coverages … the way running backs do things affects the way us linebackers do things a lot." The Wolverine: Is it harder going from offense to defense or defense back to offense? Mullings: "I would definitely say it is a lot easier going from defense to offense than it is going from offense to defense in my opinion. You can tell a lot of guys anywhere on the football field, 'Run a power — run an inside zone,' and you can kind of understand what you're doing … "On defense, it's the terminology, the lan- guage, the checks, the motions, the window dressing. The things going on throughout your head … having to know what the guy beside you is doing so that you can know what you're doing as well. "I feel like there are ways on offense you can take those pressures off a player." The Wolverine: Has the experience made you a better player in other ways, and how? Mullings: "I definitely feel like I've gotten an even better grasp on the game as a whole with that offensive experience … I feel like I'm an extremely athletic player, and just continuing to use that to my advantage is one of my strong points." The Wolverine: Michigan lost some elite de- fensive ends last year and has a revamped de- fense. Did you hear the noise about how this year's unit wouldn't be as good, and how did that motivate you? Mullings: "Last year, we had so many amaz- ing players that left. As a defense and as a team, there was external pressure and internal pressure as well to replace that. It also gave a lot of us the opportunity to step up and replace it, as well. "I feel like coach [defensive coordinator Jesse] Minter and the whole defensive staff has given us the opportunity to make plays and to step up to get home, get sacks, get ball disruption." Mullings said his work at run- ning back in the spring helped him better understand offensive schemes, which he can use to his advantage on defense. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy was "near flawless" in his first start, according to head coach Jim Harbaugh. The sophomore completed 11 of 12 passes for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions in a 56-10 win over Hawai'i Sept. 10. He also rushed once for 16 yards. McCarthy showed his command of the offense and flashed his ability to make the big play. Five of his 11 completions went for 30 or more yards, including a 42-yard touchdown pass to Roman Wilson on the Wolverines' second offensive play from scrimmage. He connected on all 4 of his passes that traveled 20-plus yards in the air for 146 yards and 2 touch- downs, per Pro Football Focus (PFF). McCarthy's 93.7 overall PFF grade was the highest single- game rating for a Michigan quarterback in the Harbaugh era. McCarthy's performance was one of the most impressive first U-M starts in recent memory. Since 2010, it's the third- highest passing yard total and tied for the most touchdown tosses for a Wolverine in an inaugural opening. In addition, the fact that U-M won is significant, even if it was against lowly Hawai'i. In that same time frame, first-time Michigan starters are 6-5. Still, there have been other stellar performances, highlighted by Denard Robinson posting 383 total yards against UConn, with 197 on the ground, the most by a U-M quarterback in a single game at the time. Here's a look at every quarterback who has started a game for Michigan since 2010 and how they fared in their first start: — Clayton Sayfie Quarterback Season Opponent Result Passing Stats Rushing Stats J.J. McCarthy 2022 Hawai'i W, 56-10 11-12, 229 yds, 3 TDs 1 rush, 16 yds Cade McNamara 2020 Penn State L, 27-17 12-25, 91 yds 1 rush, 3 yds Joe Milton 2020 Minnesota W, 49-24 15-22, 225 yds, 1 TD 8 rushes, 52 yds, 1 TD Shea Patterson* 2018 Notre Dame L, 24-17 20-30, 227 yds, 1 INT 5 rushes, -21 yds Brandon Peters 2017 Minnesota W, 33-10 8-13, 56 yds, 1 TD 3 rushes, -23 yds John O'Korn 2017 Michigan State L, 14-10 16-35, 198 yds, 3 INT 8 rushes, -9 yds Wilton Speight 2016 Hawai'i W, 63-3 10-13, 3 TDs, 1 INT — Jake Rudock* 2015 Utah L, 24-17 27-3, 279 yds, 2 TDs, 3 INT 5 rushes, 11 yds Shane Morris 2013 Kansas State L, 31-14 24-38, 196 yds, 1 INT 4 rushes, 43 yds Devin Gardner 2012 Minnesota W, 35-13 12-18, 243 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT 10 rushes, 21 yds, 1 TD Denard Robinson 2010 UConn W, 30-10 19-22, 186 yds, 1 TD 29 rushes, 197 yds, 1 TD *Patterson and Rudock had both previously started games for their former schools, Ole Miss and Iowa, respectively. HOW QUARTERBACKS HAVE FARED IN THEIR FIRST MICHIGAN START Sitting Down With Michigan Junior Linebacker Kalel Mullings

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