Better or worse? Previewing Michigan's offense in 2022
Hassan Haskins was incredible and Michigan’s offense will miss his production from the running back position. Ranked No. 15 in the nation and No. 1 in the Big Ten in rushing, the Wolverines wouldn’t have had such a potent scoring punch without one of the most criminally underrated players from one year ago.
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But the fact remains the same: The Wolverines’ offense probably won’t be the same in 2022 — last year’s group was incredibly talented and entertaining, so it’ll be quite difficult for UM to produce a carbon copy this fall.
What can we expect this fall? Let’s dive in.
Rushing game: Not necessarily better but different
Without Haskins’ 20 rushing touchdowns, the ground game will rely on at least two — and maybe three — players to carry the load this fall. Sophomores Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards are expected to lead but don’t forget about redshirt freshman Tavierre Dunlap, who looked pretty good during the spring scrimmage. The same can be said for Kalel Mullings, a former linebacker who showed off some skill during spring ball.
There won’t be just one guy, really, for the Wolverines in 2022. Corum will likely lead but he doesn’t have the size to be a powerful 3-down back like Haskins.
Passing game: Still Cade, Ronnie Bell is healthy
Cade McNamara is still the QB1 in Ann Arbor — and rightfully so; he was a primary reason the Wolverines won the 2021 Big Ten championship and made the College Football Playoff for the first time.
With McNamara’s experience and accuracy — he completed 64.2% of his attempts in 2021 — paired with up-and-coming sophomore WR Andrel Anthony, the return of senior Ronnie Bell, the emergence of Cornelius Johnson and the growth of TE Erick All, the Wolverines will have plenty of aerial options.
That aforementioned group accounted for 9 receiving TDs last season, and the Wolverines also return speedsters Roman Wilson (3) and AJ Henning — so the slot should be a solid position this fall for Michigan, which didn’t lose much in terms of WR production during the recent annual turnover.
Special teams: Jake Moody is back!
The best kicker in the nation, Jake Moody, will be back for one final go in Ann Arbor. In 2021, he averaged nearly 10 points per game, finishing the season as the No. 12-ranked overall scorer (125 points) in the nation.
Bell could be back returning punts, giving Michigan a strong option in that regard. Prior to suffering a season-ending injury, Bell had a 31-yard return and was primed to be UM’s top weapon in the PR game.
For the past 2 years, Brad Robbins has been one of the most consistent punters in college football. Add him to him with Moody, and the Wolverines’ have two of the top right feet in all the land. Robbins, now a graduate student, averaged 46.3 yards per punt in 2021, allowing the Wolverines to constantly hold an advantage in the field-position battles.
Overall: Still a solid squad … but probably won’t repeat 2021
It’ll be difficult for the Wolverines to replicate what they did one year ago, winning their first outright Big Ten title since 2003 and giving coach Jim Harbaugh his first piece of Big Ten hardware behind an offense that averaged 35.8 points per game.
Michigan won’t have its first true test until going on the road Oct. 1 to play Iowa, a perennial Big Ten West favorite. The next week, it plays at Indiana before hosting Penn State and Michigan State in back-to-back homestands. Of course, that challenging 4-game stretch will likely determine the fate of the season, which ends Nov. 26 at Ohio State.
Don’t expect 11-1 or 12-0, but 9-3/10-2 seems incredibly realistic and logical, based on returning players and current expectations.