Michigan was the better team. I predicted a 27-24 loss to the Crimson Tide, so I wasn’t too far off on how the game would feel – I thought it would be a close game that came down to the end. But from the get-go, it seemed like Michigan had the superior team on a down-to-down basis. They sacked Jalen Milroe on four out of his first six dropbacks, and the offensive line was holding up fairly well. Alabama’s offense averaged 4.36 yards per play, while Michigan’s averaged 5.95.
Run the damn ball. Coming into the game, Indiana was ranked #91 in rushing defense. And it was raining. So naturally, Michigan decided to come out throwing, with four pass plays and two rushes in the first six plays. Two of those pass plays resulted in sacks, and one was a drop by Colston Loveland. Meanwhile, the two carries by Corum averaged 4.5 yards per rush. Michigan wasn’t necessarily going to obliterate Indiana on the ground with huge runs, but they could have just taken over the game physically instead of trying to throw in those conditions.
Defensive Tackle U. Michigan is putting together a nice crew of defensive tackles, and the least heralded one is the guy making plays most consistently, it seems. Sophomore Mason Graham made 5 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks against UNLV, eating up the interior offensive line repeatedly. The Rebels ended the game with 61 rushing yards on 31 attempts, which includes sacks, but still . . . the middle was stuffed up all day. Kris Jenkins made 5 tackles and 0.5 sacks and Kenneth Grant made 4 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and 1 pass breakup. The title of this section is a little facetious, but the defensive tackle play has been terrific.
I feel really good about my predictions for 2023 and I’m nearly certain they’ll all be correct.
LEADING RUSHER Junior running back Blake Corum had 1,463 yards on the ground in 2022. Unless his surgically repaired knee doesn’t hold up, he’s a good bet to lead the team in rushing again, even with the presence of star running back Donovan Edwards. Edwards should get a lot of rushing attempts and might even top 1,000 yards himself (he had 991 last year), but Corum should still be the #1 guy. Prediction: Blake Corum, 1400 yards
Hit the jump for the rest of the prognostications.
Name: Tyler Morris Height: 5’11” Weight: 185 lbs. High school: La Grange Park (IL) Nazareth Academy Position: Wide receiver Class: Sophomore Jersey number: #8 Last year: I ranked Morris #93 and said he would redshirt (LINK). He caught 3 passes for 25 yards. TTB Rating: 83
Morris tore his ACL during the spring COVID season of 2021, which also knocked out his senior season in the fall of 2021. It was a very unfortunate way to finish out his high school career. He enrolled in the spring of 2022, but with some veteran receivers ahead of him and having missed a year of football, it was unlikely he was going to play much last season. He played in eight games and caught 3 passes for 25 yards.
There have been some rumblings this spring and summer that Morris is going to have a breakout fall. He played with J.J. McCarthy in high school, so they already have a built-in connection. Michigan lost leading wide receiver Ronnie Bell to the NFL Draft, so the team needs to replace his production. Morris has a decent chance to be the starter in the slot, but I don’t see that position turning out the numbers that Bell had (62 catches, 889 yards, 4 touchdowns) with Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson returning on the outside. It’s also possible that Michigan uses running back Donovan Edwards a little more in the passing game after he had just 18 catches for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns last season. Johnson will be gone after 2023 and Wilson could be, too, so perhaps 2024 will be a bigger year for Morris.