The Michigan Football Spring Game ended with the Maize defeating the Blue 22-21. The game provided insight into what the team is looking like as we sit here in early April. It was a cold and windy day in Ann Arbor and it was a game that featured both offenses and defenses generating positive plays.
With that in mind, we took a look at some of the big plays that transpired during the spring game.
J.J. McCarthy with a throw on a line to Peyton O’Leary
This is the kind of throw that shows off McCarthy’s arm talent. McCarthy has to drop it over the defender's head, but also have enough velocity on the throw. If one of those two things isn’t done, this ball is an interception. Only top-tier quarterbacks are able to make this throw, and J.J. McCarthy is top-tier.
"What a rope!" ️@jjmccarthy09 shows off the arm on this @UMichFootball completion. pic.twitter.com/gsfSQs4ED5— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) April 1, 2023
McCarthy to Thaw for 6
McCarthy and the Maize offense put together a great two-minute drive that culminated in this touchdown throw to Jake Thaw. McCarthy’s mobility and throwing accuracy on the run made this play happen. McCarthy places the ball in a safe spot for Thaw to catch it.
J.J. on the run is so dangerous for the defense.@jjmccarthy09 x @UMichFootball pic.twitter.com/op3qKPbaCY— Michigan On BTN (@MichiganOnBTN) April 1, 2023
Hibner meets the turf monster
Tight end Matthew Hibner ran a nice crosser and had linebacker Nikhai Hill-Green beat. Hibner showed off good speed and it looked like it was going for a touchdown until Hibner lost his balance, stumbled, and fell. It was a gain of 52 for Hibner.
The got him! @UMichFOotball's @MatthewHibner was a good sport about it. pic.twitter.com/UWlApeYEO9— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) April 1, 2023
Benjamin Hall almost goes to the house
Hall had a spring game to remember. The early enrollee who turned 18 just a few weeks ago rushed for 96 yards and one touchdown, including this scamper for 31 yards. Hall already seems to have patience as a runner, as well as physicality. Running backs coach Mike Hart said he has attributes similar to Hassan Haskins.
Let's talk about Benjamin Hall. @ThebenjaminH x @UMichFootball pic.twitter.com/PKLChePwUT— Michigan On BTN (@MichiganOnBTN) April 1, 2023
QB Alex Orji is a dangerous runner
Alex Orji had a solid spring game last year with his legs, and that was the case again on Saturday. Jim Harbaugh once said looking at Orji is like looking at Herschel Walker throwing the ball. Orji’s physical and fast. On this play, he keeps the option look and gets to the edge.
Michigan has got to find a way to utilize Alex Orji this season pic.twitter.com/BbffjqiXeM— 〽️att Hartwell (@MaizeCrusader) April 3, 2023
Orji with a deep ball to Frederick Moore
Orji can run but don’t sleep on his throwing abilities. Orji stepped up in the pocket with authority and didn’t hesitate to find freshman Frederick Moore for a gain of 41 yards.
Alex Orji finds Frederick Moore deep for 41 yards. pic.twitter.com/0oFfmQmvJm— Trevor Woods (@WoodsFootball) April 3, 2023
AJ Barner with his first TD at Michigan
The Indiana transfer tight end was the benefactor of a great play call. All other receiving options run crossing patterns going to the left while Barner makes his way to the right on a crossing pattern. The play design left Barner wide open for the score.
Can't wait to see more of these this fall. @_ajbarner_ x @UMichFootball pic.twitter.com/AlHahlWZqa— Michigan On BTN (@MichiganOnBTN) April 1, 2023
Tuttle throws an interception
There’s a pass rush on this play that gets to Tuttle quickly. Tuttle had two options to protect the football. The first would be to tuck the ball and just take the sack. The second option would be throwing the ball out of bounds. Tuttle instead tries to make something out of nothing and whips the ball without really knowing who’s in the general area of its landing spot. It lands in the hands of Zeke Berry. This was one of two Tuttle turnovers, the other being a lost fumble generated by linebacker Ernest Hausmann. Whoever is Michigan’s backup QB, be it Davis Warren or Tuttle, will earn No. 2 duties based in part by who turns the ball over less.
Oy This ball needed to go into the stands.— Due# (@JDue51) April 2, 2023
Instead, Tuttle tries to make something out of nothing and ends up throwing a pick to a really great kid out of Northern California, Zeke Berry (10). pic.twitter.com/2qDTecuJ9d
Myles Pollard picks off Davis Warren
This was an excellent interception by Pollard, who undercut the route. Warren thought Pollard was playing a post-route and that the wheel route would be open. Nope, Pollard was there and then added a nice return to the INT.
Myles Pollard picks off Davis Warren and has a nice return. pic.twitter.com/OvMOylq2i7— Trevor Woods (@WoodsFootball) April 3, 2023
Kenneth Grant goes beast mode
Grant was the No. 1 overall selection for the Spring Game Draft, and this play showcases why. If grant can plow over offensive linemen during the regular season with this type of burst and ferociousness, he’s going to have a big season.
(78) Kenneth Grant— Due# (@JDue51) April 2, 2023
Warren and O’Leary put the Maize in the red zone
We could have put every Peyton O’Leary catch in this article, he had that good of a game, but we’re going to limit it to just a few. Davis Warren and Peyton O’Leary are great friends and have ascended at Michigan after beginning their careers on the scout team. In short, Warren and O’Leary have great chemistry. Here Warren evades a pass rush and scrambles to his right, delivering a great back-shoulder throw to O’Leary.
Amorion Walker might’ve had nightmares about Peyton O’Leary last night pic.twitter.com/fJq5Zu2P4m— Due# (@JDue51) April 2, 2023
Warren and O’Leary connect on the 2-point conversion
The Maize needed this 2-point conversion to win the game, and win they did. There was a good amount of hand fighting on this play, and O’Leary got the better of Amorion Walker and threw him out of the way, and boxed him out for the score. O’Leary had 6 receptions for 126 yards and the successful 2-point conversion.
Peyton O'Leary is having a day.— Michigan On BTN (@MichiganOnBTN) April 1, 2023
Here's his late go-ahead 2-point conversion.@peytonoleary6 x @UMichFootball pic.twitter.com/QRJm6MwvkO