clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Handing out game balls after seven games for the Michigan Wolverines

These four players have had the biggest impact on Team 143’s success.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines are 7-0 and have the No. 7 ranked scoring offense and No. 5 ranked scoring defense nationally. Michigan is ranked fourth in the country in the polls and all roads appear to be heading to a “Game of the Century” against Ohio State in late November.

The Wolverines have a Heisman hopeful, a stout “no star” defense, and a mentality forged in the fires of revenge after falling short in the College Football Playoff last year. Team 143 is a national title contender and has gotten here on the backs of a team effort, but certain players’ individual efforts cannot be overlooked.

There are perhaps 15 players worthy of a game ball at this juncture of the season, but I narrowed it down to four: two on offense, two on defense. Now, let’s hand out some game balls!

RB Blake Corum

Blake Corum is currently second in the nation in rushing yards (901) and first in the nation in rushing touchdowns (13). Corum is listed as having the fourth best odds to win the Heisman Trophy (best for a non-quarterback) and is the front runner to win the Doak Walker Award.

At this current pace, Corum is projected to finish with 1,546 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns (through 12 games). The yards would be good enough for the seventh-best season at Michigan and the touchdowns would break Hassan Haskins’s record mark of 20 set just last year.

Aside from rushing, Corum has been a stand-out in pass protection and has emerged as one of the biggest leaders on the team, setting the tone with his voice and performance.

C Olu Oluwatimi

It is hard to come up with sexy stats for a center, especially if you don’t buy into the imaginary guess-work statistics of PFF’s college analytics. However, I have come up with several adjectives to describe Oluwatimi’s play so far this season: dominant, smothering, pulverizing, road-grading, crushing.

Oluwatimi anchors the best offensive line in college football and is currently a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award (presented annually to the best offensive or defensive lineman) and the front runner for the Rimington Award (presented annually to the nation’s best center).

As his respect grows nationally, it has been a staple in the locker room since his arrival in Ann Arbor as a transfer earlier this year. The former two-star recruit and Virginia Cavalier was voted as an alternate captain by his Michigan teammates in fewer than six months of being a Wolverine.

DT Mazi Smith

The No. 1 freak in college football, Mazi Smith continuously sets up teammates to wreak havoc by drawing countless double teams and soaking up the increased attention of opposing offensive lines. Despite the doubled focus, that has not stopped Smith from taking a massive step in production this season.

  • Smith has 27 tackles (third on the team); he had 37 last year in 14 games.
  • Smith has 2.5 TFLs; he had 2.5 last year in 14 games.
  • Smith has 0.5 sacks this season; he had zero last year in 14 games.

Mazi Smith has grown into a team captain in his four years at Michigan, and his play has allowed this “no star” defense to shine around him.

EDGE Mike Morris

During the Harbaugh era (2015-present), there has been at least one first-round pass rusher starting on every team: Taco Charlton (2015-2016), Rashan Gary (2017-2018), Kwity Paye (2019-2020), and Aidan Hutchinson (2019-2021). Mike Morris could be next.

In his first year as a starter, Morris leads the team in sacks (5), TFLs (5), and forced fumbles (1). In the two years priors to this season, Morris had only accrued 0.5 sack, one TFL, and zero forced fumbles.

Morris has abused one-on-one match-ups and has taken over games when the team needed him the most (Iowa).

Honorable Mention

CB Gemon Green

CB Mikey Sainristil

LB Junior Colson

LT Ryan Hayes

QB J.J. McCarthy

WR Ronnie Bell