Just like that, Michigan football is right around the corner again.
Not quite. But as of Thursday, there are just under 100 days until the Wolverines begin their 2022 season against Colorado State. To celebrate that Michigan’s highly anticipated season is 99 days away, 247Sports Michigan beat writer Zach Shaw has summarized 99 thoughts he has about the Wolverines at this time.
Some are firm beliefs, some are predictions shot in the dark, some are things he’s heard from those close to the team, others are just his thoughts out loud. But Shaw goes position by position and offers his thoughts, then closes with some lightning-fast predictions and thoughts on the team as a whole, including his bowl prediction for the Wolverines.
Check it out and stay tuned to The Michigan Insider at 247Sports for all content related to Michigan football, basketball and recruitment.
I still have a feeling the quarterback job will ultimately belong to JJ McCarthy. McCarthy has a superior arm and athleticism, and it’s evident every time they both get into a game. The missing bounce ball didn’t help McCarthy’s development, but I still think he can bridge the gap in any advantage McNamara has over him at his second summer and fall camp.
However, it is not handed over to him. When I rewatched Michigan’s 2021 games last season, I was even more impressed McNamara’s ability to avoid sacks and use checkdowns to his advantage. He’s a leader and a game manager, but not in the cliche, sneaky, complimenting way. The offense moves consistently with him as quarterback, and some of his best moments have come on the road and in tight games.
Wins are a lazy, often meaningless statistic for quarterbacks, but I truly believe that’s the only stat McNamara cares about. It showed last season and could keep him in a fight many (myself included) expect him to lose.
And no, if McCarthy is better, I don’t think Jim Harbaugh will hesitate to make the switch. At least not when the conference game heats up. We heard multiple times last season that the Wolverines gave McCarthy a chance to take the starting job in practice because they believed games would be left behind on the field, and Michigan happily turned to him in the Georgia game. Harbaugh loves McNamara, but he and the offensive coordinators are aware they can expand the playbook with McCarthy in the game.
I don’t think Michigan needs both quarterbacks to stand out as an elite team this season. It would help, of course, but the Wolverines will have top 10 running back, offensive line, and tight end spaces in the country if those groups stay healthy. With Cade McNamara at quarterback, I still think Michigan’s offense is better this season than it was last.
If I had to make one tangible, bold prediction that I actually believe in 100 days from now, it’s that I think Michigan will lead the country in getting yards back this season. The Wolverines were 10th in the category and first in the Big Ten with 540 yards last season, but with Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards taking more of Hassan Haskin’s snaps, I think the two can improve on that.
That depends somewhat on how the offense changes under Sherrone Moore and Matt Weiss, but I don’t think 750 yards is out of the question and that would have been second last season.
Perhaps the only thing keeping Corum and Edwards from a smashing total is their value as ball carriers. I don’t have 40 times or shuttle runs from each back, but I’d bet this is Michigan’s fastest and most elusive running back room since the 20th century. Might be a debate to really flesh it out another day.
This yards prediction is also based on the belief that Michigan will try to minimize wear and tear on both backs and get them out into the open field as much as possible. They’ll have to pick up a lot more carries in Haskin’s absence, including some tough yards between tackles. Both have faced the challenge in their careers so far, but are also at an advantage in the passing game when Michigan is looking to give them a break from the trench coat.
With that in mind, I’m really, really curious to see how Michigan call third and middle and third and short games this season. Haskins often made that an easy answer last season when he led the nation in first downs, but he’s gone. Do the Wolverines lean into a bigger back for those carries (Tavierre Dunlap? Kalel Mullings? CJ Stokes?), stick with Corum and Edwards, or do they pass the ball more? The Smart Money is a bit of all three, but will still be fascinating to watch.
I liked what I saw of Mullings in the Spring Game. “Backup defensive player tries to run back when there are only three grantee running backs on campus” doesn’t always fit, but I think he has the skills to make it work. Remember that both Notre Dame and Wisconsin recruited him as an offensive player.
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