The Michigan Wolverines backfield was electric in 2022. Blake Corum was on the verge of being a Heisman finalist before injuring his knee in late November, and Donovan Edwards was lethal as the 1B. Michigan ranked No. 5 in rushing offense and No. 7 in rushing attempts with 600.
Michigan’s passing game was good as well when J.J. McCarthy had opportunities to sling it, but the pass:run ratio favored the rushing attack. Michigan was effective passing the ball, ranking No. 22 in team passing efficiency, but ranking No. 82 in passing offense is indicative of the overall schematic approach last season.
McCarthy is now in his second year as Michigan’s starter. While Corum and Edwards will still receive ample opportunities to be major focal points on offense, the team wants to be more balanced this fall.
“In order to get over that hump, in order to push through and wring out the most potential we have as an offense, you got to be balanced,” McCarthy told the media on Monday.
McCarthy said the team isn’t currently practicing in full pads and haven’t gotten into the thick of the whole run game yet, so they’re capitalizing on the opportunity to work on the passing game right now.
“We’ve been working on it crazy,” McCarthy noted. “We’ve been more heavy-focused on the pass game these first five practices. It’s been great to be able to get those reps, get those opportunities.”
Per TeamRankings.com, Michigan ranked No. 120 in passing play percentage at 39.21%. The run-heavy approach worked out great for Michigan overall, going 13-1 overall last year. Even so, it’s that one loss that’s what sticks out to the team. Michigan’s offense is all in on doing whatever it takes to not see their season end in the College Football Playoff like the last two years.
McCarthy said Michigan has to be balanced and that no matter what it is, how it gets there, they’re “gonna get there.”
“Whether you’re a human being, whether you’re an offense, the more balanced you are, the more successful you’re going to be,” McCarthy said. “I feel like that just opens up to different levels of attack.”
Part of why Michigan is opting to be more balanced is because they have the personnel to do so. Head coach Jim Harbaugh trusts McCarthy. And Michigan’s receiving options at wideout, tight end, and out of the backfield could be the most dynamic the Wolverines have had during the Harbaugh era. In short, McCarthy will have chances to let it rip.
McCarthy completed 64.6 percent of his passes last season for 2,719 yards and 22 touchdowns to five interceptions, all numbers that could be surpassed in 2023.