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Five Michigan players we’re looking closely at this weekend against Northern Illinois

Here is who I am taking a closer look at this weekend against the Huskies.

Washington v Michigan Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

With the ground-and-pound working to perfection last weekend against Washington, the Michigan Wolverines return to the Big House this weekend 2-0 to take on another team of Huskies — Northern Illinois. If only they played UConn this season...oh what could have been.

Anyways, here is my list of five Wolverines I will be taking a closer look at this weekend against those Northern Illinois Huskies.

Mike Sainristil

Thought the junior wideout had a bit of a rough game last weekend against Washington, both receiving and blocking. He had one catch for negative yards for the second straight week as well — his season total is two catches for -4 yards. Michigan needs someone to step up in the passing game with Ronnie Bell out, and Sainristil is among the vets who could do so. Need to see more consistency from him.

Whoever returns punts

I think I’ve seen enough out of Caden Kolesar to know he isn’t the best guy to return punts. If it’s him back there again this weekend, it’s because A.J. Henning hasn’t been good enough in practice to be relied on in that role yet. Jim Harbaugh has been saying how he would prefer Kolesar at other spots on special teams and for Henning to take that step forward. Really seems like he wants Henning to seize that opportunity, and I’m sure a lot of folks feel similarly.

Cade McNamara

He completed 7-of-15 passes for a whopping 44 yards last Saturday against Washington, with 33 of them coming on one play to Cornelius Johnson. I understand a lot of that was due to the flow of the game and how well the rushing attack was working, but I need to see more out of him this weekend. Our own Kyle Yost made a bold prediction before the season started that Michigan would start 4-0, but J.J. McCarthy would relieve McNamara of his starting role. Two games in, and I wouldn’t be shocked if that prediction came true. Feels like an important game for him and the passing game.

Gemon Green

Overall, I think Green has been a solid corner through the first two games. He has given up a couple bigger plays, but he has always been in a good position to make a play on the ball. The big plays he has given up haven’t really been a major fault on his part, but just a great play by the offensive player he was defending. I’m curious if he will be able to learn from those big plays and eventually make a better play on the ball. The Wolverine defense hasn’t snagged an interception yet, but I feel like Green would be among the favorites to get the first one of the season. Seems like a matter of time.

Aidan Hutchinson

Northern Illinois has given up just one sack in its first two games of the season, coming last weekend against Wyoming in that wild 50-43 barnburner. Hutchinson has 3.5 sacks and two quarterback hurries in his first two games of the season, so something’s got to give. Hutchinson has been an absolute force for opposing offensive linemen, so how will he fare against an offensive line that has been relatively solid through its first two games? (Bold prediction: Probably real well).