ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan football didn’t have any problem taking down East Carolina in the opener, but there are a few specific things I would like to see in the second game against UNLV.
I know East Carolina made a point to get the ball out early, but it was still surprising that Michigan didn’t get to the quarterback even once.
The Wolverines have national championship aspirations, and nobody can win the title without getting pressure on defense.
Kenneth Grant and Mason Graham are disruptive run stoppers, but it’s time for some of the other linemen and edge rushers to break through. Josaiah Stewart, Jaylen Harrell, Kris Jenkins, Braiden McGregor, and Derrick Moore need to get going against UNLV.
Short-yardage rushing attack
Michigan got stuffed in a goal-line situation against East Carolina, and I know that can’t sit well with the offensive line.
Goal-line struggles burned Michigan against TCU in the playoff, but it was a strength of the Wolverines before Blake Corum’s injury in 2022. Let’s see them get back to that.
More Corum-Edwards snaps
Michigan wasn’t afraid to put both Corum and Donovan Edwards on the field at the same time last week, and it worked like a charm.
There’s something to putting your best 11 players on the field and letting them create mismatches, and Michigan’s best 11 probably includes Corum, Edwards, Roman Wilson, Cornelius Johnson, and Colston Loveland, along with J.J. McCarthy and the offensive line.
Edwards is proven as an elite pass catcher out of the backfield. Corum isn’t quite as comfortable, but he did catch three passes in the opener. It’s good to see Michigan is open to using both.
No. 3 running back and wide receiver
Michigan has the high-end weapons to get away with not having an established No. 3 running back or wide receiver, but someone still needs to step up and take control of both spots.
Kalel Mullings is the presumed leader in the running back race, but true freshman Benjamin Hall got rave reviews throughout the offseason, and C.J. Stokes had some good moments last year.
Jim Harbaugh said before the season that Tyler Morris had been practicing as a first-string wideout. I wonder how close true freshman Fredrick Moore is to stealing that spot, though. He played much more in the opener and caught two passes.
Give us more JJ
No matter how the rushing attack looks, Michigan fans want to see more McCarthy. Week 1 was so encouraging, as he set a school record for single-game passing accuracy and tossed three touchdown passes.
McCarthy looks vastly improved from last season -- and he was already very good. His ability to win games through the air will force teams to think twice about selling out to stop the run (like East Carolina did).
On top of the on-field benefits, McCarthy’s success should directly help Michigan in quarterback recruiting as it pursues Belleville star Bryce Underwood.