On Saturday afternoon, Michigan football took the field for its spring game, providing a lot of anticipation for the 2022 season. In the offseason so far, there have been some notable exits to the NFL, including Michigan’s main offensive output Hassan Haskins and flashy defensive ends David Ojabo and Aidan Hutchinson, so this gave us an opportunity to see some of the replacements for the stars of last season.
The first quarter saw some series with some starters from last year, including Cade McNamara and Blake Corum. The stars of the show, however, were the newest additions to campus. The freshmen got to show off in Ann Arbor for the first time in the Big House and a lot of what they had to offer was a welcome sight.
After their first showing this year, here were some of the top plays from Saturday’s scrimmage.
In the video that has probably circulated all across the Michigan fanbase by now, Ronnie Bell was discussing his return from a torn ACL with Devin Gardner on the broadcast. During a split screen with the live action on the field, fans at home got the opportunity to watch true freshman receiver Darrius Clemons grab a touchdown pass from Alan Bowman. Bell got pumped and ran right to the end zone to celeberate.
Can't love this enough— Michigan On BTN (@MichiganOnBTN) April 2, 2022
Ronnie Bell (@Ronnieb_8) was talking with @devingardnerXCI on the sideline when early enrollee WR @DarriusClemons caught a TD.
The veteran @UMichFootball WR joined the celly in the end zone. pic.twitter.com/MUfvrEGxDt
Demonstrating his own speed and creating ample space for a huge 35-yard touchdown, fans should expect to see a lot more from Clemons this fall.
Not only was he making flashy catches, Clemons even got the chance to show off his own arm strength. With the reverse and then a double pass, Clemons connected with Max Bredeson, a sophomore tight end, to set up a first and goal.
From the game play we saw yesterday, it’s obvious the freshmen have been working hard since arriving on campus and with continued practice before the start of the season, they will only get better. Seeing talent utilized to strengths will open up a lot of opportunities for a seemingly stacked receiver room.
Freshman quarterback Alex Orji was also in on the action, executing one of the other trick plays that stood out during yesterday’s spring game. Orji went for the handoff but kept the ball, darting off to the left side of the field. The freshman faked out the opposing defense and the camera crew, rushing for a huge gain for the Maize team while getting the chance to show off his own speed. While Orji was 1-for-7 passing for 35 yards, his demonstrated athleticism posing as a dual threat quarterback will hopefully sharpen with time.
It wasn’t just Clemons with the double pass in yesterday’s game. Senior tight end Erick All, returning for one last ride, also heaved a pass to set up a first and goal earlier in the game. He connected with a fellow tight end, freshman Colston Loveland, which set up the Blue team nicely to get their first touchdown of the game.
Double pass!— Brendan Moore (@bmoorecfb) April 2, 2022
Alan Bowman ➡️ Erick All ➡️ early enrollee Colston Loveland
Nice pass by All!
The Wolverines also had some stand out plays defensively. Attention to containing the run didn’t wane from last season, but what stuck out was Michigan’s ability to disrupt the passing game.
Defensive back German Green was key in a couple goal line stands, getting an active hand on the ball before it could land in the receiver’s hands. He provided some good coverage while focusing on the timing of his body and sight to ensure he was successful in breaking up passes cleanly. Both plays with Green on the coverage kept the Maize team out of the end zone. DJ Turner also showed off similarly earlier in the game, disrupting a pass to intended for Clemons.
With the exit of defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald to the Baltimore Ravens, it was promising to see the defense continue its success and growth under new defensive coordinator Jesse Minter. The stars of the season prior, both players and coaches, were going to be a notable absence, which gave the defense a lot of attention during yesterday’s spring game. But unlike last year, fans got a taste for how the defense was going to work this time around, providing some comfort and peace of mind. Michigan came out to show it is moving forward and those strengths weren’t going away, but going to the next man up.