Any team worth its salt can run the ball, and Michigan has definitely established itself as a run-first team through the first 6 weeks of the season.

Successfully running the ball, however, is only one part to having a complete squad. If a team is truly well-balanced, it’ll also be able to consistently throw the ball, mixing up the play-calling and presenting a two-sided approach instead of a one-sided scheme.

The No. 6-ranked Wolverines are working their way to achieving a Ying-Yang-like balance. They’re not quite there, but they’ve shown that they can move the ball through the air — and not just on the ground, like they showed during the first 3 weeks.

Quarterback Cade McNamara looks more comfortable in the pocket. His throws appear to have more zip. He still needs to work on accuracy, but he’s trending in the right direction. With 66 attempts, the redshirt junior has thrown the ball more during the past 2 games than he had during the previous 4 combined (53 attempts).

He’s still connecting on roughly 60 percent of attempts, and he’s still thrown just 1 INT during the season.

While he’s more active with his arm, this isn’t the first time he’s demonstrated the ability to throw a lot and maintain consistency. In 2020, he hit 27 of 36 for 260 yards and 4 TDs vs. Rutgers — a game in which he came in as a reliever for Joe Milton and led the Wolverines to a triple-overtime victory.

He also had a rushing TD, for those counting.

As long as McNamara continues to expand his range, the rest will follow suit.

Despite not having a WR ranked in the Big Ten’s top 10, in terms of production, Michigan does have a relatively dangerous group of pass-catchers.

Stat-wise, Cornelius Johnson leads the Wolverines with 14 catches for 282 yards and 3 TDs. When at his peak, Johnson can frustrate defensive backs with his athleticism. There have been moments in which he’s looked like a star-in-the-making, so it’s logical to expect him to continue improving.

Daylen Baldwin, a transfer, has come out of nowhere to become one of the Wolverines’ top options. With 12 catches on the season (he had just 6 entering Week 6 vs. Nebraska), Baldwin has given enough of a sample size to project exponential improvement as the season rolls forward. His 219 yards are the second-most on the team, and UM has indicated that Baldwin will continue to see opportunities.

An unspecified injury suffered against Wisconsin sidelined Roman Wilson vs. the Huskers. One of the fastest Wolverines, Wilson adds a shifty and agile element to UM’s offense. If he’s healthy, he’ll likely be eased into action vs. Northwestern, in preparation for a bigger role against Michigan State the following week.

When Ronnie Bell went down in Week 1 vs. Western Michigan, UM was forced to adjust the rotation and seek production from up-and-comers. Bell, without question, was supposed to be the centerpiece of the aerial threat. His absence hurts, but it hasn’t crippled the Wolverines, who’ve seen bursts from WR AJ Henning and Mike Sainristil.

Sainristil, in particular, has emerged during the past 2 weeks, catching 4 of his 7 total on the year. His 52 yards vs. Nebraska were a season-high. He’s capable of delivering much more, too. Remember 2019 vs. Notre Dame? He had 3 catches for a career-high 73 yards and scored a touchdown.

If he duplicate what he did vs. the Irish, or close to it, Sainristil could end up becoming a prime target for the rest of the season.

Notice how the attempts are being redistributed: Baldwin is getting more, Sainristil is getting more.

Tight end Erick All has been a quiet, but consistent, piece of the passing plans. He’s had 5 catches during the past 2 weeks. Projecting him to be targeted 5 or 6 times per game, for the rest of the way, wouldn’t be unreasonable. The Wolverines don’t have much time left to experiment — they need to know who’s going to be the go-to pass-catchers right now, as they prepare for the fate-deciding final stretch of Big Ten play.

Michigan will run the ball well, that’s not really a question. Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins, and even doses of true freshman Donovan Edwards, will be enough to sustain that part of the offense. The real question centers around passing, which is improving but still needs to take a few jumps before solidifying Michigan as a well-balanced contender.