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Discussion: Have your expectations changed for the 2023 season after the spring game?

After the spring game one week ago, it’s safe to say there is a lot of excitement around this team.

NCAA Football: Michigan Spring Game Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Saturday was the first glimpse into the 2023 football season for the Michigan Wolverines. As anticipation mounts for the season, it’s only natural to expect them to have all the makings of a Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff caliber team. Maybe it was the relief of seeing the team in the Big House again, but I believe the Wolverines showed a lot of promise in this year’s spring game.

What was your biggest takeaway from Michigan’s spring game this year?

Mine was the team has a lot of depth and pieces it can work with. Even shorthanded, there wasn’t a significant lapse in play. I thought it was promising to see Michigan operate without its key pieces on both sides of the ball with degrees of success.

I spent time comparing the feel of last year’s game to this one in order to determine what to expect this year. Obviously at the forefront of the 2022 spring game was seeing the emergence of J.J. McCarthy. Having discernible talent at the quarterback position was something a lot of us looked forward to at the time, but this year, that shifted.

Now we are faced with a very different narrative. It’s obvious after last year that McCarthy was and is Michigan’s starter. While there was promise from quarterback play as a whole last Saturday, the spring game served to re-emphasize that McCarthy was the direction Michigan is headed in, not that it was as much up in the air as it was a year ago.

If anything, the different skillsets Davis Warren, Alex Orji and Indiana transfer Jack Tuttle all demonstrated allowed for a completely new question to be posed: who is going to be QB2? Who’s going to come in clutch when they are called?

That same kind of question fell on the shoulders of the running backs. Both Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards did not partake in the game, still working through injuries, but it’s obvious they are going to be RB1 and RB2. So who’s the next man up behind them?

From what we saw, the easy answer is true freshman Benjamin Hall. Even though it was only his first semester on campus, his patience in the backfield to allow his offensive line to develop lanes for him to run was really impressive. And it’s important for him to get his feet wet considering both Corum and Edwards could declare for the NFL Draft next year.

To have a true freshman play with such poise, as if he has been here for years, while nearly rushing for 100 yards reiterates Michigan won’t have any drop off at the position once Corum and Edwards leave.

Another player who captivated us all was wide receiver Peyton O’Leary. A true testament to Michigan’s capabilities to develop players, O’Leary went from nearly unnoticed in a crowded receiver room to catching six passes for 126 yards and the game-winning two-point conversion. His ability to get open demonstrated the amount of trust he has with his quarterback teammates. They grew to expect him to be there and make the catch and, as we saw, he often did.

What positional group impressed you the most during last Saturday’s game? Or maybe if it wasn’t a specific group, what player stood out to you the most, and do you think that can carry over into the regular season?

The other standout groups were the secondary and the defensive line. The Wolverines have produced a lot of spectacular talent from their defense and, to my relief, that has not waivered. Kenneth Grant’s ability to get after the quarterback, along with Derrick Moore’s speed and power, showed that Michigan’s defense is young and hungry.

The secondary coming away with three interceptions definitely was not overlooked. That, and having Jesse Minter retained in the coaching staff, was refreshing after having such a successful season last year. I look forward to seeing how he utilizes all the talent he has.

With everything we saw last week, how did your expectations change, if at all, for the upcoming season? What do you think went well for Michigan, and what areas do you think need to be worked on the most?

Share your thoughts on the spring game with us in the comments below!