The Michigan Wolverines opened up the 2022 football season with a 51-7 drubbing of Colorado State that could have been even worse. The 44-point mercy beating is the largest season-opening win for the Wolverines since 2016 and yet, players still seemed hungry in the post-game.
“You know we can do better. Today wasn’t awful at all, I feel like we did great things, but I think we can take it to a whole other level, and that’s what we’re going to do” running back Blake Corum said.
The junior playmaker was one of the stand-outs on offense, but is he worthy of a game ball? How about the ‘no-star’ defense that looked fast, physical, disciplined, and kept the Rams secluded in their own territory until the 1:40 mark of the second quarter?
Sound off with your game balls in the comments —bonus points if you award it to punter Brad Robbins and bonus BONUS points if you award it to him solely for his mustache.
Let’s hand ‘em out!
C - Olu Oluwatimi
The 2021 Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line picked up right where they left off, but this time they were anchored by a new leader in the middle. Virginia transfer and Rimington finalist Olu Oluwatimi’s first start in Michigan stadium was something to behold for a plethora of reasons.
Oluwatimi was excellent at shifting protections, communicating with the rotating guards next to him, and operating fluently with every quarterback he snapped to without any timing miscues.
Olu and the offensive line never committed any pre-snap penalties and road-grated a rushing attack that saw five players (Blake Corum, Donovan Edwards, JJ McCarthy, AJ Henning, CJ Stokes) average over five yards-per-carry.
Left guard/left tackle Trevor Keegan also deserves a special mention for his ability to switch positions mid-game out of necessity, as the line was without Ryan Hayes to start the game and lost replacement Karsen Barnhart halfway through.
NT - Mazi Smith
Honestly, take your choice along the defensive front or across the entire defense and you can make a case for a deserving player. But in choosing Mazi Smith, I wanted to appreciate the the catalyst of chaos that anchored the defensive interior.
The No. 1 freak in college football lived up to his billing in the box score (four tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, 0.5 sacks), but more importantly, he attracted double-team after double-team —and sometimes triple teams— allowing his teammates to feast in the backfield.
In total, the unit accounted for 11 tackles-for-loss, seven sacks, one forced fumble (returned for a touchdown), and one interception, and Mazi Smith was at the center of this dominating defensive eruption.
WR - Ronnie Bell
How can you not be romantic about football? 365 days ago, wide receiver Ronnie Bell left the season opener against Western Michigan with a knee injury after flashing his electric play-making ability and hauling in a 76-yard touchdown.
Yesterday, he returned to the field.
Bell finished with one catch for nine yards, and one over-excited drop, but his presence alone is worthy of recognition. The team captain was welcomed with a thunderous ovation from the Big House faithful following his lone catch and Bell can finally put the injury chapter of his Michigan career behind him and focus on his self proclaimed goal of ‘dominance.’