With Several Personnel Changes, Michigan Wolverines Show Promise in Annual Spring Football Game

Photos by Aaron J. Thornton

After a historic 15-0 year, the Michigan Wolverines football team is back at work with a goal of repeating as National Champions. That goal certainly is not impossible, however with new personnel both with players on the field and almost an entirely new coaching staff, it is much more challenging. On Saturday, over 31,000 fans braved the cooler Michigan temperatures to get a glimpse of team 145 in the annual Spring game, televised on Fox, where the team divides itself into a Maize team and a Blue team with a 48-minute scrimmage.

Michigan’s Head Football Coach Jim Harbaugh left for the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers in January, taking a number of key assistant coaches with him. It’s now first year Head Coach Sherrone Moore’s team to lead. Moore, who was previously the Offensive Coordinator, will try to keep Michigan’s success and momentum going with new Offensive Coordinator Kirk Campbell, Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale, and several other new assistant coaches.

Who will be Michigan’s next starting Quarterback? With the departure of J.J. McCarthy to the NFL, that’s the question many are asking. As one of, if not the most important position for a team, the Wolverines QB battle has been a hot topic as the quarterback room is full of options. Junior Quarterback Alex Orji is thought to be the guy that will lead Michigan, however he has competition from fellow Junior classmate Jayden Denegal, Senior Davis Warren, Grad Transfer Jack Tuttle, and highly recruited Freshman Jadyn Davis. All but Tuttle saw time in Saturday’s Spring game and had the opportunity to showcase their talent to make their case to be QB1. Orji, moving team Blue downfield on the opening drive capped off with running the ball in for an 18-yard score for the Blue team, was impressive. Warren threw the ball well, connecting on 6 of 9 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns for the Maize team. The competition for the starting QB role is far from over but fans saw a hint of who may be J.J. McCarthy’s replacement.

On the ground attack, Michigan is fortunate to have one of the best backs in the Big Ten returning in Donovan Edwards. Edwards has continued to develop each year and will get his chance to shine after All Conference RB Blake Corum graduated and now heads to the NFL. With just five carries in the Spring game on Saturday, Edwards led all the running backs with a 6.6 yards per carry average, exciting the crowd with his quickness and toughness that he’s known for. Fans also saw flashes of good things to come from the other backs as well. Tavierre Dunlap, Kalel Mullings, and Benjamin Hall all ran the ball hard with the Senior Dunlap gaining 66 yards in the game to lead all rushers.

Defensively, the stout group that helped Michigan win the National Title lost some key contributors but the aggressive style and play of the Wolverines should again be strong with Will Johnson, Kenneth Grant, Mason Graham and others returning. Junior Defensive Back Max Reyes led all tacklers in the Spring game with six. Michigan also saw signs of potential from Zeke Berry, DJ Waller, Jyaire Hill and others.

The Wolverines certainly have a tall task ahead to not only repeat as National Champions but to retain the Big Ten title as well. The Spring game, won by team Maize 17-7, gave the new coaches and fans some confidence but also highlighted areas to continue to develop and improve. Despite losing several key players, Michigan will have high expectations after winning it all last year and beating rival Ohio State for the third consecutive year. It will definitely make it even more interesting with the Big Ten adding Oregon, Washington, USC, and UCLA in 2024, undoubtedly increasing the level of competition in the conference. Now, we will have to patiently wait until August 31, the date of Michigan’s home opener against Fresno State, to see if Team 145 can pick up where last year’s team left off.

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