2022 Michigan Wolverines Preview

by Matt Fargo

Michigan Wolverines

2021-22 Season Record 12-2 (8-1 Big Ten East) - 11-3-0 ATS - 7-7-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 9
Defense - 4

Overview

It was a special season for Michigan that won its most games since winning a National Championship in 1997 and snapped an eight-game losing streak to rival Ohio St. to secure a spot in the Big Ten Championship and eventually, the College Football Playoff. The question begs are the Wolverines back to their elite status from years ago or was last season just a one-off and they will come back down to earth? The answer is no one really knows. The nasty defense from last season is no more as all seven starters lost went to the NFL so now it will be up to the offense to carry them. Michigan finished last season ranked in the AP top ten for the first time since 2006 as the typical scenario was being ranked in the top ten early and falling flat late. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has done a very good job in getting Michigan back to playing at a high level with four double-digit win seasons now we will see if he can keep it going.

Offense

The offense was exceptional last season as Michigan finished No. 20 in total offense and No. 13 in scoring offense behind nine returning starters and the Wolverines get the same amount back this season and have the No. 13 ranked returning production offense. Quarterback Cade McNamara was very efficient but did not put up monster numbers as he had only 2,576 yards and 15 touchdowns and he will have to get the ball down field more that is if he wins the starting job as it is open with J.J. McCarthy right in the mix. Leading receiver Cornelius Johnson returns while top target from 2020 Ronnie Bell is back after missing last season and there is plenty of depth. The offensive line was the best in the Big Ten as the pass protection was spot on and helped lead the No. 10 rushing attack but there are pieces to replace. Also being replaced is leading rusher Hassan Haskins but backup Blake Corum ran for 952 yards.

Defense

This will be interesting. Losing talent that Michigan has to replace will be a challenge after finishing No. 11 in total defense and No. 4 in scoring defense. The Wolverines were stout in both areas coming in at No. 22 in passing defense and No. 21 in rushing defense and there are pieces in place to be really good but nothing like last season. The defensive line has to replace star Aidan Hutchinson and his 14 sacks which accounted for over 40 percent of the team sacks but the interior remains in place to stuff the run. Another big loss is linebacker David Ojabo who had 11 sacks and five forced fumbles but two starters return for this unit that will be expected to improve the pass rush that was average overall, ranking No. 53 in team sacks. Top tackler and interceptions leader from the secondary Dax Hill along with second leading tackler Brad Hawkins have to be replaced and while there is experience, there is not that "it" guy yet.

2022 Season Outlook

The 2021 season was excellent in a lot of ways and one intangible that should not be overlooked is that Harbaugh got the Buckeyes monkey off his back and there will be less pressure on him going forward. His commitment is still scrutinized as his name pops up every year surrounding coaching gigs in the NFL but he has stayed put, at least for now. No one ever took Michigan lightly but this year will be even more so. A lot of elite programs schedule top caliber nonconference games but Michigan does not and this year is no exception as it opens with home games against Colorado St., Hawaii and Colorado St. and those are not good litmus tests going into Big Ten season. Overall, it is not horrible as they do have Iowa and Ohio St. on the road but get Penn St. and Michigan St. at home with a bye in-between. The O/U win total is set at 9.5 and the over looks doable with eight home games but there is still trouble out there.  

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