During the Week 1 beatdown of the Western Michigan Broncos, nearly every Michigan Wolverine looked well-prepared and played to the best of their abilities. Sure, it was against a Mid-American conference school, but the players still looked the part of a talented team in the Big Ten and didn’t have any monumental or game-altering screwups.
Now, with a more serious opponent awaiting this weekend, the Washington Huskies, here are the five Wolverines I will be closely watching to see how they improve from Week 1 to Week 2, especially given some unique circumstances.
The sophomore wideout was probably always going to be called upon a little more each week as the season progresses, but that timeline went from 0 to 100 real quick due to the Ronnie Bell injury. Jim Harbaugh also alluded to Henning potentially being given the punt returning duties if he is able to catch up to speed on that as well. Henning is quickly going to become a very important piece to the offense and special teams, so I am curious if he is able to take advantage of his opportunities.
The sophomore offensive lineman played sparingly last weekend against Western Michigan due to a hand injury he suffered in fall camp. Even when he was on the field, he was still rocking the club he had been wearing on his hand all week. Now with a more serious opponent coming to the Big House this weekend, Michigan will likely throw him back in the starting lineup at right guard. If they do so, how will he play with his injury potentially lingering? If his hand does still give him trouble, they can easily throw Chuck Filiaga back at right guard and keep Zinter as a rotational sixth-man.
Ojabo is playing an important position in Mike Macdonald’s defense, but was nearly shutout in the game against WMU. He only collected one tackle and one quarterback pressure against the Broncos. He also picked up a taunting penalty early in the game. I was pretty high on the redshirt sophomore coming into the season, so I will be paying attention to him on defense to see if he is able to rebound.
The coaches and players have mentioned guys like Henning, Roman Wilson and other wide receivers as guys who will have to step up after Bell’s season-ending injury. I’ll also throw one more guy into the equation, and that’s tight end Erick All. He led the team in receptions last Saturday, as well as receiving yards for players with more than one catch. The junior from Ohio was always going to be a crucial part of the offense this season, so I will be paying attention to see how many more targets he sees with Bell out of the lineup.
One of the guys we saw a heck of a lot more of than I expected to last Saturday was redshirt freshman R.J. Moten. He was listed as a started at free safety on the Michigan player participation from the game, and boy did he earn that distinction. He collected five solo tackles last weekend and seemed to constantly be around whoever had the ball.
Who are you looking forward to watching more of this weekend? Sound off in the comments section below!