In their 34-3 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Michigan Wolverines added an interesting wrinkle by using some true freshmen in key roles.
Here are four of the best freshman performers from Saturday.
Last week, Will Johnson recorded his first start and first interception in the same game. While the afternoon against the Cornhuskers wasn’t quite as eventful, Johnson put up a quietly solid performance that had his older teammates giving him some props.
“Will’s been doing a great job,” Mike Sainristil said. “He’s another guy who’s very consistent in what he does. After practice you see him staying out longer doing the little things to make sure he stays ready for when his name is called. Will has solidified himself as a starting corner. Whenever he’s in there, he’s a guy we trust, coaches trust him, and I know for a fact every week he’s gonna do his best.”
The Wolverines were hoping they found a diamond in the rough when they got a commitment from Mason Graham last year. So far, it seems they’ve gotten even more than that.
Against Nebraska, Graham recorded his second solo sack of the season, along with matching his season-high in total tackles with three.
When asked about Graham’s development after the game, head coach Jim Harbaugh raved about him.
“Really from day one, he came in as probably someone that just went to work right away,” Harbaugh said. “Showed up in the first couple of practices and ok, that was in shorts, lets see what it looks like in pads. Right away in pads, he was really good.”
Since the non-conference portion of the schedule, we haven’t seen much from running back C.J. Stokes. That all changed with the mid-game departure of Donovan Edwards.
With 68 yards on eight carries, Stokes was the top rusher of the night not named Blake Corum. Though his usage will inevitably depend on the status of Edwards moving forward, it’s clear Stokes is back to being a dependable role player with the potential for big moments.
Similar to Stokes, tight end Colston Loveland was pressed into service due to injury, as starting tight end Luke Schoonmaker missed the game on Saturday.
While the pass game numbers as a whole weren’t much to write home about, Loveland had a pair of very solid catches — a 28-yard toss from J.J. McCarthy in the second quarter, followed by a 12-yarder from Davis Warren in the fourth.
By virtue of play-style and size, Loveland has more of an aptitude for the pass-catching aspect of the position than the blocking aspect. But his willingness to do both spells good things in the years to come.