Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Trente Jones. I really like the way Trente Jones plays football. On Saturday he was used mostly as an extra lineman or a tight end, reprising his primary role from 2021. But he just bullies people in the run game and does a great job with his body positioning. I think his pass protection might be a little questionable at tackle, but I think he deserves to be on the field more.
Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . Myles Hinton. Hinton earned the start in game one even though Jim Harbaugh suggested that he would start a different set of tackles in week two, presumably La’Darius Henderson at left tackle and Jones on the right side. Hinton is a mammoth at 6’6″ and 340 lbs., but he appeared to make several mental mistakes on Saturday, especially in the run game. He said in the post-game that he did not play well. I do still think he can be a good player, but perhaps he needs a little more time to adjust to Michigan’s scheme.
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Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Jyaire Hill. Hill made 4 tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss, and he looked rather aggressive and fast while doing it. Michigan doesn’t have many proven players at cornerback, so there’s room for someone to step up. He’s probably not going to be a starter this year, but it’s possible that he could move up the depth chart and put a stamp on the job for 2024. Amorion Walker missed the opener, so Hill could make a move in his absence.
Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . nobody. The defense played pretty well. There were a few standouts, and there were no big culprits. That’s what happens when you shut out a team until they kick a field goal with zero seconds remaining on the clock.
Play of the game . . . with a lot of good plays to choose from – but nothing truly spectacular – I’ll go with defensive tackle Kenneth Grant putting pressure on ECU quarterback Mason Garcia in the first quarter. After Grant tossed a lineman to the side like a rag doll, he got in Garcia’s face, forcing the QB to throw off his back foot. It was a terrible decision that led to a weak throw that was undercut by Mike Sainristil, who notched the second interception of his career. I’ll throw an honorable mention toward Josh Wallace, whose interception along the sideline was overturned by replay because the receiver touched the ball while out of bounds, but it was tremendous body control and focus on Wallace’s part to pull in the deflected ball and get two feet inbounds.
Mike Sainristil picking right up where he left off last year— JD 〽️ (@MGoJDBlue) September 2, 2023
Justice for Josh Wallace’s interception ✊pic.twitter.com/FpbbXLiZue— 〽️att Hartwell (@MaizeCrusader) September 5, 2023
MVP of the game . . . J.J. McCarthy was surgical as he completed 26/30 passes for 280 yards and 3 touchdowns. He made several NFL-level throws, and some NFL draft analysts coming out of the weekend have him ranked as the #3 quarterback for 2024, behind USC’s Caleb Williams and UNC’s Drake Maye. There’s still a long way to go to move up – or down – but it was a great opening performance. My favorite throw of the day was the smash route for a touchdown to Roman Wilson, not because he manipulated the cornerback into staying in the flat, but because it was a perfectly thrown laser into a closing window.
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