Josh Gattis and Jim Harbaugh’s offense has been much maligned in recent years and deservedly so. Certain players have shined under scrutinies such as Jalen Mayfield and Nico Collins. Others have faltered under pressure. The 2021 season will undoubtedly bring more and more pressure as Jim Harbaugh’s seat only grows hotter. Here are the offensive players who have the most to prove this fall.
Cade McNamara, QB
McNamara’s inclusion on this list should come as no surprise. The presumed starter doesn’t come in with very lofty expectations but certainly has the arm talent and the poise to surprise. With JJ McCarthy waiting in the wings, McNamara will need to change the narrative from “how long until JJ takes over” to “can Cade lead Michigan to a Big Ten title”. Looking at Jim Harbaugh’s track record, it’s easy to see that McNamara will be afforded every opportunity to do so.
Erick All, TE
All has routinely been praised by the coaching staff to the media for two straight years. The athletic tight end has been compared to Devin Funchess, Eric Ebron, and everything in between. His raw athleticism stands out, however, he had a bad case of the drops in 2020 which is more infuriating than most other mistakes in football. To prove himself to the fans, the coaching staff, and even NFL scouts, All will need to get more consistent and become a better blocker.
Chuck Filiaga, OG
If you’ve been reading our scholarship player previews, you know that I waxed poetically about how 2021 is a make-or-break year for Filiaga. The once highly touted recruit now has several years under his belt but can’t seem to put it all together. After struggling mightily in pass protection, there are rumors that Chuck may not even be a starter on the offensive line this year. With that being said, Filiaga still possesses a large amount of untapped potential. He is undoubtedly one of the strongest players on the team and mashes in the run game. Upperclassmen on the offensive line tend to make the biggest jumps so I have optimism that Filiaga can prove the doubters wrong and prove his worth.
Mike Sainristil, WR
Sainristil still has plenty of time to develop under Josh Gattis and the Michigan coaching staff. However, with largely uninspiring wide receiver play as a unit, last year, and several speed demons behind him on the depth chart such as AJ Henning and Roman Wilson, the time to impress is now. Sainristil has the opportunity to prove that he is the slot receiver of the future at Michigan or he will be passed up for playing time. He needs to retain his spot near the top of the depth chart.