ANN ARBOR, Michigan — Football season is here in Ann Arbor, where Michigan kicks off its 2022 season against Colorado State on Saturday (noon, ABC).
It will be Jim Harbaugh’s eighth season on the job, and he’s coming off his most successful yet. The Wolverines not only posted their best record yet during his tenure (12-2), they captured the Big Ten championship and earned a berth in the college football playoffs.
Can you repeat? Who is ready for a great season?
To help anticipate the season, here are some season predictions from MLive’s Aaron McMann, Ryan Zuke, and Andrew Kahn.
1. What is your one bold prediction for the season?
McMann: Donovan Edwards ends up as RB1 at the end of the season. And not because of injury. The second-year running back is poised for a big year if you listen to his coaches and teammates, and his do-it-all skill set suggests he could be a major weapon in an offense that is anticipated to be a little more balanced in the game. air this fall. . It’s hard to put a number on it, but I’m saying Edwards ends up with more combined rushing yards and receptions than Corum, who is 10-plus pounds these days and isn’t conditioned to run between tackles.
Zuke: Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards combine for more than 3,000 yards of offense. The Wolverines have a lot of mouths to feed on offense, but Corum and Edwards will get their fair share of help. Corum likely would have been close to hitting 1,500 scrimmage yards last season if he hadn’t been hurt, and Edwards is one of the most talented athletes on the team. Even with Hassan Haskins gone, I don’t expect Michigan to abandon the running game, and Corum and Edwards will run behind an experienced offensive line against an easy schedule. Edwards had 265 receiving yards in a minimal role last season, and I can see a path for him to reach 600-700 yards in 2022.
Khan: Did you know that among FBS schools, Michigan ranked fourth in the state in sacks last season? The Wolverines had 34 sacks, behind Michigan State and Western Michigan (which had 43 each), and Central Michigan (42). For all the hype surrounding the talented duo of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, I think Michigan can match their production, at least in terms of sacks, with a bigger committee this season. And if suggesting that a group of mostly unannounced players can duplicate a Heisman runner-up and a second-round NFL draft pick isn’t audacious, I don’t know what is.
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2. Who is the under-the-radar player poised for a big year?
McMann: Linebacker Junior Colson. If there’s anyone on defense ready to take the next step as a potential superstar, I think he’s the inside linebacker. He appeared in all 14 games as a true freshman last year, starting seven of them, and finished fourth on the team in tackles (61), behind a group consisting of Josh Ross, Daxton Hill and Aidan Hutchinson. He could also become a serious pass rush threat, something Michigan desperately needs more of in the post-Hutch-Ojabo era. He was a high-level recruit from high school for a reason, and someone former defensive coordinator Don Brown saw as a possible “viper” candidate. That’s no longer an official role, but it would be hard not to use Colson in that capacity.
Zuke: RJ Moten Security. He could be the most overlooked returning taxpayer in high school. He has some starting experience and had some notable moments last season as a redshirt freshman. The former four-star recruit has the physical tools to excel in high school, and players typically make a big jump from sophomore to junior.
Khan: Andrel Anthony qualifies, right? As a true freshman last season, he had 12 receptions. Nine Wolverines had more, including three running backs and a guy who now plays defense. He’s still expected to trail Ronnie Bell, Cornelius Johnson and possibly others on the depth chart at wide receiver. Last season, he didn’t have a catch in Michigan’s first seven games. His first career reception was for a 93-yard touchdown against Michigan State in his hometown of East Lansing. He caught five more passes that afternoon, including another touchdown, for 155 yards. Interestingly, he only had six catches the rest of the season, though he did post a garbage time for Michigan’s only touchdown in their playoff loss to Georgia. Assuming his performance in practice has improved, the 6-foot-2 Anthony could be in line for more regular production as a sophomore.
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3. How do you think the QB situation is developing?
McMann: Make no mistake, Jim Harbaugh is opening the door here for JJ McCarthy by starting him in Week 2. I expect both quarterbacks to play well in their respective starts, which will force Harbaugh to continue contention into the Big Ten season. . And when it comes down to it, McCarthy’s arm and playmaking ability win out, especially in key games against Penn State and Michigan State. At the end of the season, the two are still sharing time, but McCarthy is getting the most of it, including the start against Ohio State in Columbus. As Kirk Herbstreit said this week, I feel sorry for Cade McNamara. He did everything he was asked to do last season, helped win a Big Ten championship and is still being asked to split time with the backup (a former five-star recruit).
Zuke: Jim Harbaugh might say he wants to name a starter heading into Week 3, but I still think he’ll be too close after a couple of cupcake games against Colorado State and Hawaii. I expect a similar situation to last year, with McNamara playing most of the snaps and McCarthy coming in from time to time to give defenses a different look. Michigan could very well be 11-0 heading into Columbus, and I think it gives McNamara the go-ahead against the Buckeyes once again.
Khan: Won’t it be weird when McNamara lights up Colorado State only to be benched the following week? That’s the corner Harbaugh has gotten himself into, but I kind of get it. Giving each player a start makes more sense than, say, alternating sets.’ It also suggests that Harbaugh feels McCarthy is the guy, but he can’t let McNamara have a chance to prove he’s still worthy of the job, not after how he led Michigan last season. McCarthy’s running ability is far superior to McNamara’s, and he brings a certain electricity to the offense. I think McCarthy’s playing time will increase gradually throughout the season and start in November, including the regular season finale in Columbus.
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4. What is your final prediction for the regular season record?
McMann: 10-2. Even after last year’s upset, I have a hard time predicting Michigan going to Columbus and winning for the first time since 2000. The Buckeyes are loaded offensively again and had an offseason to review and prepare for the Wolverines’ defense, which hasn’t It changed a lot under new coordinator Jesse Minter. Then it all comes down to whether they dominate the table the rest of the way, quite a feat in the Big Ten, even with Michigan facing Penn State and Michigan State at home. They screwed up once again last year (lost to the Spartans), and I have a feeling they’ll do it again this season. I find it hard to believe this defense is this good this year, and with the change in quarterbacks I wouldn’t be surprised if the offense takes a while to find a rhythm.
Zuke: 10-2. Michigan is likely to be the favorite in their first 11 games, but I still think there’s a strong chance they’ll slip up at some point. Iowa and at home against Michigan State and Penn State are the most challenging games on the schedule, so I’m saying they lose one of those three. There are also too many question marks on defense to believe the Wolverines will beat Ohio State in Columbus.
Khan: The Wolverines will head to Iowa with a 4-0 record. The non-conference schedule is weak and Maryland isn’t winning in Ann Arbor. Michigan will enter Columbus 10-1, having lost one of the Big Ten’s tough games (Iowa, Penn State, Michigan State) along the way. I can see Michigan being the favorite in all those games, but actually surviving the Big Ten challenge is a tall order. With the Buckeyes thirsty for blood after last year’s humiliating loss, it’s hard to see Michigan winning at Ohio Stadium. That’s equal to a 10-2 regular-season record, likely without a Big Ten title or playoff title, but a shot at a six-game New Year’s bowl game. It would be, on paper, a step back from last season. Actually, it would prove that last year was no fluke. As long as Ohio State play is competitive, it would mean Michigan football is back.
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