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Players to watch vs. the Cincinnati Bearcats

Keep an eye on these four Wolverines in Saturday’s game in Ann Arbor.

NCAA Football: Florida at Michigan Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of a thorough domination of the Florida Gators last week, the Michigan Wolverines are now sitting at 1-0 and looking to take on their first of two opponents from the state of Ohio this season: the Cincinnati Bearcats.

Unfortunately for the Bearcats, this game should be even more of a blowout by Michigan. The Wolverines are favored by 34.5 points they should cover that fairly easily.

And they will on Saturday by a score of 51-6.

And here are the four Wolverines to pay attention to throughout the game:

Photo Credit: MGoBlog

Wilton Speight: Throughout Michigan’s opener, Speight’s passing produced several of Michigan’s few serious blemishes against Florida. Back-to-back pick 6s and a missed throw to a wide-open Kekoa Crawford, which would have been a touchdown, are not what Wolverine fans want to see in their starting quarterback.

Speight did look like a quarterback for a top ten team at other times, however, particularly with two beautiful deep passes: one to Tarik Black for a touchdown in the first quarter and another to Nick Eubanks for 48 yards in the fourth quarter.

Cincinnati only allowed 89 yards passing in their season opener against Austin Peay, but this game will still be a perfect opportunity for Speight to recompose himself as the starter, cut down on the turnovers and accuracy mistakes, and display all the talent he has. As the game enters the second half and Michigan has a comfortable lead, Coach Harbaugh and Coach Brown will start sending in depth players to get some game experience.

But, in the case of Speight, I hope we see him and as many starting wide receivers as possible stay in for the whole game to continue to work out any kinks in their passing dynamics.

Photo Credit: MGoBlog

Khalid Hill: Fullback Khalid Hill, also known as the Hammering Panda, does not need an introduction to Michigan fans that have been watching since last season. The 6’2, 260 lb. battering ram has been an excellent blocker, competent safety valve in the passing game, and a touchdown machine.

Austin Peay put up 224 yards rushing against the Bearcats last week. So, you know our running back corps is salivating at getting the chance to run against this defense today. Hill, and other fullback Henry Poggi, will be the key to their success.

You will see Hill running some balls up the gut and catching a few in the flats, but definitely keep your eye on him during a Chris Evans or Ty Isaac sweep to the edge as he takes the role of lead blocker. Just watch the bone-breaking power of Khalid Hill’s block against a poor Florida corner last week:

NCAA Football: Florida at Michigan Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Lavert Hill: Cornerback Lavert Hill, younger brother of former safety Delano Hill, was one of Michigan’s two starting corners last week against Florida. As a true sophomore, there was a great deal of concern about how he would perform with so little experience.

Overall, Hill had a great game. Against the run, Hill made several terrific plays, both in containing the edge and thereby forcing runners back inside and by making open field tackles on his own. And, in the passing game, he really was not too bad. Hill’s number one overall flaw was not turning his head around during passes, which resulted in receivers making plays on the ball and gaining significant yardage.

In Florida’s first offensive drive, Felipe Franks completed a 34-yard pass right over Lavert Hill because he did not turn his head around in time (see gif below). This is a serious cover issue Hill has to work out, and this game against Cincinnati will be the exact occasion to do so.

The Bearcats do not have a strong passing attack at all, so it would be nice to see Hill play as a lockdown corner and maybe even force a turnover. Lavert Hill clearly has all the talent to be the Wolverines’ starting cornerback; he just needs to continue to work on the technicalities of his game.

Photo Credit: Dustin Johnson, MaizenBrew.com

Donovan Peoples-Jones (9): After Donovan Peoples-Jones’s performance against Florida, the Michigan faithful can breathe easy about losing Jabrill Peppers as the punt returner. DPJ looked fearless in his decision-making and so shifty in his running. He was real close to breaking a couple returns for serious yardage last week, and I think he runs a punt back for a touchdown today.

But against the Bearcats, it will not be just on special teams that we will see Peoples-Jones play. The former #1 wide receiver recruit in the 2017 class, DPJ will have ample opportunities to have a role in the passing game. His speed and elusiveness are going to help him gain some significant yards after catch. Donovan Peoples-Jones was a player at the top of the list of who Michigan fans were most excited to see throughout the offseason, and today, DPJ will show exactly why.