Michigan football: 5 players not named JJ McCarthy who will be key for the Wolverines
This season will be full of JJ McCarthy-themed Michigan coverage. He’s on his way to being a star quarterback for the Wolverines, so the attention will be inevitable, justified and unavoidable. He’ll get more ink and digital copy than previous 5-stars Rashan Gary and Jabrill Peppers, combined, generated during their time in Ann Arbor.
The hype is real, and so is The Kid.
Now it’s time to sit back and see what he can do for the Wolverines, who are 3-0 after thrashing UConn 59-0 this past Saturday in Ann Arbor. Michigan has scored 50 or more in all 3 games, the first such streak in the modern era of the program (not counting point-per-minute Fielding Yost teams).
McCarthy has been a major component to the initial success. At Michigan, if you’re a star QB, you’ll likely be responsible for carrying more than a little bit of the load. Michigan will heavily lean on its sophomore quarterback, but it will also need other standouts to play well throughout the season.
Let’s take a look at some other Wolverines who will have considerable influence on the outcome of the 2022 season — guys not wearing No. 9 on their jersey and commanding all of the headlines.
Remember the movie “The Bodyguard” with the late Whitney Houston and legendary actor Kevin Costner? Well, Hayes is Costner and McCarthy is Houston. McCarthy likes to run and escape from the pocket, so he’ll need top security on the blindside. Hayes, recognized as one of the top left tackles in the country, should be able to provide such services.
Hayes is the designated bodyguard. He’s like the Secret Service keeping tabs on the president. Who knows, he may even end up carrying around a briefcase and escorting McCarthy to class and personal appointments.
And with backup/former starter Cade McNamara out for “a few weeks,” per coach Jim Harbaugh, protecting the starter has now become even more important.
As the right guard, Jones’ mission in life is to open up holes while Hayes keeps the pocket sealed and protected from the back side. Clearing the way for running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards will be imperative; it’s clear that the Wolverines will run the ball a lot this season, evidenced by Corum’s eruption for 5 TDs vs. UConn.
Jones entered spring as the starting RG and solidified that spot during preseason camp. Strong bookends will be necessary for an O-line looking to duplicate (at least some of) the success from 2021, when it was named the best front 5 in the country (Joe Moore Award).
Running the ball might be more of an emphasis in the wake of the McNamara injury, so look for Jones to become even more important during the next 3 weeks.
The sophomore will help control the middle of the field, serving as support for the D-line and early support for the secondary. A Freshman All-American in 2021, Colson is expected to become a household name this fall for the Wolverines. This past Saturday vs. UConn, Colson tied for a team-high 5 tackles and had 1 TFL.
Forecasting him rack up 10-12 tackles per game during Big Ten play would not be unreasonable.
He’s back! Blake Corum is one of the most electrifying running backs in college football, and his 5-TD outing vs. the Huskies was essentially a sampler platter of what’s to come this season. Granted, he probably won’t score 5 TDs against another team, but he will certainly account for a large portion of Michigan’s offensive output this fall.
Entering Saturday, Corum had 164 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Add on his 71 yards and 5 scores vs. UConn, and he has an impressive stat line through 3 games: 34 carries for 235 yards and 7 touchdowns. That’s an average of 6 points every 5 carries (or so) and about 7 yards every time he touches the ball.
Yeah, those are nice numbers against lower-level teams — Colorado State, Hawaii and UConn — but they’re still notable statistics and show how critical of a piece Corum will be this season.
Michigan left a few points on the field Saturday vs. UConn. There were a couple of stalled drives, and that will have to be addressed as the Wolverines move forward after a quick 3-0 start. Where there’s a need, there is a solution: And his name is Jake Moody, one of the nation’s leading scorers in 2021 and an incredible asset for the Wolverines.
Moody’s right foot will win games. Not since Kenny Allen have the Wolverines had such a reliable kicker and point-producer. In 2021, Moody averaged roughly 10 points per game. If he continues on that trend, he’ll be the difference-maker in tight games against teams such as Iowa, Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State, just to name a few.
UM isn’t going to blow everyone out of the water like it did during the first 3 weeks. Having Moody provides a stark advantage. Call him The Insurance Plan.