What to Watch in the Spring Game

What to Watch in the Spring Game

April 1, 2022
Will Johnson

The spring game will be shown on the Big Ten Network on Saturday, April 2, at 12:00 p.m.

Here are a few things I’ll be curious to watch:

Michigan needs to replace its leading rusher and toughest back in Hassan Haskins, a 6’1″, 220-pounder who is off to the NFL after rushing for 1,327 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2021. The Wolverines have two very talented running backs left, Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, but neither one has proven to be a bruiser or short yardage back. They have home run speed but were listed at 200 and 202 pounds, respectively, last season. Redshirt freshman Tavierre Dunlap (6’0″, 222) might be able to step into the role as a big back, but does he have the instincts and power that Haskins showed? Michigan doesn’t need a leading rusher – that will be Corum or Edwards – but they need someone who can pound the ball inside.

Hit the jump for more.

The defense loses 25 sacks from its edge rushers last year, Aidan Hutchinson (14 sacks and a possible #1 overall pick) and David Ojabo (11 sacks and a potential 1st round pick before tearing his Achilles). That’s a ton of production to find from a group consisting of players whose highest individual total was 2.5 by Taylor Upshaw. Of Michigan’s 34 total sacks in 2021, only 6 of those sacks were made by returning players. Front-runners to take over are Upshaw, Mike Morris (0.5 sacks in 2021), Braiden McGregor (0 sacks), Jaylen Harrell (0 sacks), and T.J. Guy (1 sack). One possible dark horse candidate is fifth year senior Julius Welschof (0.5 sacks), who has reportedly moved from tackle to end to provide some more competition.

This may not be a point of focus for many – it’s always the quarterbacks – but I am very interested to see what happens in the defensive backfield. Michigan lost three starters from 2021 in safety Daxton Hill, safety Brad Hawkins, and cornerback Vincent Gray. Cornerback D.J. Turner II is the only true starter returning, though cornerback Gemon Green started in 2020 and R.J. Moten got a lot of run at safety in 2021. Rod Moore seems certain to start at one safety position, but what of the cornerbacks and the nickel position? It seems like Green will get the nod on the outside, but converted wide receiver Mike Sainristil has been impressing at nickel in the spring and early enrollee freshman Will Johnson has earned rave reviews.

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