The Michigan Wolverines finished the 2022 season 13-1 and were fueled by a handful of key players throughout the winningest campaign in program history. Running back Blake Corum was in Heisman Trophy discussions until his Week 11 injury; first-year starting quarterback J.J. McCarthy was instrumental as a passer and a runner; senior wide receiver Ronnie Bell overcame a devastating knee injury in 2021 to re-emerge as Michigan’s top pass-catching target.
Let’s take a look at several statistical categories and see who finished at the top. Also, one burning question for 2023 regarding each category’s future production.
All stats listed came courtesy of Sports Reference.
- QB J.J. McCarthy: 208/322 (64.4%), 2,719 yards, 22 touchdowns, 5 interceptions
- QB Cade McNamara: 14/25 (56.0%), 180 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception
- QB Davis Warren: 5/9 (55.6%), 89 yards
2023 burning question: Who replaces McNamara as QB2? After McNamara’s season was ended with injury, it was expected to be a combination of Warren, Alex Orji and Alan Bowman. Bowman — like McNamara — has left the program and there is not a definitive answer behind McCarthy in 2023. Could Indiana transfer Jake Tuttle assume the role of back-up with his combination of experience and leadership?
- RB Blake Corum: 247 carries, 1,463 yards (5.9 yards per carry), 18 touchdowns
- RB Donovan Edwards: 140 carries, 991 yards (7.1 yards per carry), 7 touchdowns
- QB J.J. McCarthy: 70 carries, 306 yards (4.4 yards per carry), 5 touchdowns
2023 burning question: Does Corum return to improve his draft stock and prove he can stay healthy, or does he go to the NFL because a running back’s career is already on an accelerated timeline? Which then raises the question of who becomes Edwards’s backup?
If Corum stays healthy in 2022 and produces at even 75% of what Edwards did against Ohio State and Purdue, he wins the Heisman Trophy. Unfortunately for the second straight year, his season was derailed by injury. He will be immensely difficult to replace.
- WR Ronnie Bell: 62 catches, 889 yards (14.3 yards per reception), 4 touchdowns
- WR Cornelius Johnson: 32 catches, 499 yards (15.6 yards per reception), 6 touchdowns
- TE Luke Schoonmaker: 35 catches, 418 yards (11.9 yards per reception), 3 touchdowns
2023 burning question: Who is the No. 1 option next season? Bell is gone, Johnson had 32% of his yards in one game, but was underwhelming in the other 13, and it is highly unlikely Schoonmaker returns. Andrel Anthony was one of the most disappointing Wolverines as far as expectations this season, and Roman Wilson alternated between being an explosive game-breaker and fans forgetting he was out there.
Could it be one of the trio of freshmen, or is Michigan built like the Kansas City Chiefs with a versatile tight end (Colston Loveland) ready to take over every game? There are plenty of candidates, but this is a question that will linger the entire offseason.
- RB Blake Corums: 19
- RB Donovan Edwards: 9
- WR Cornelius Johnson/WR Roman Wilson: 6
2023 burning question: Who is going to emerge as a complementary play-maker next season? Presuming Corum goes to the NFL, the Wolverines will need to identify another consistent player to guide them to the end zone. As discussed in the receiver section, there are several options on the perimeter and even a few in the backfield: CJ Stokes, Kalel Mullings and incoming freshman Cole Cabana all hope to emerge as scoring threats to support and preserve Edwards in 2023.
- LB Junior Colson: 101
- LB Michael Barrett: 72
- S Rod Moore: 71
2023 burning question: Will Michael Barrett return? Barrett replaced the injured Nikhai Hill-Green for the entire season and improved every single week. But could a healthy NHG unseat his replacement after such a highly productive season?
Just outside the top three was first-year defender Mikey Sainristil, who finished fourth on the team in tackles (58) as a nickelback. The Wolverines are expected to return 10 of their top 12 tacklers next season.
Tackles for loss
- Edge Mike Morris: 11
- Edge Jaylen Harrell: 7.5
- CB Mike Sainristil: 6.5
- Edge Mike Morris: 7.5
- Edge Eyabi Anoma: 4.5
- Edge Jaylen Harrell/LB Michael Barrett: 3.5
2023 burning question: Combining the burning question for these two categories because it’s the same: can Michigan have a better edge rushing presence in 2023? The Wolverines were expected to have a production drop-off after the departures of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, but at a certain point Michigan struggled to have any consistent rush on the outside.
Mike Morris dominated both categories and he missed the better part of three games. Against TCU, no one could win an outside one-on-one battle, and while the no-star mentality is galvanizing, stars win CFP games. There is a laundry list of contenders, but someone needs to emerge as a true No. 1 rushing threat.
- S Rod Moore: 4
- CB Will Johnson: 3
- LB Michael Barrett: 2
2023 burning question: Who will start opposite Will Johnson as the other corner? DJ Turner is expected to declare for the NFL Draft and Gemon Green’s future is still undecided. Even without these two players, the Wolverines are projected to return seven of the eight players who registered an interception in 2022. If Turner returns or if the position is upgraded by Green or another player, the 2023 secondary could be one of the best in Michigan history.
- Jake Moody: 29/35 field goals, 60/60 extra points
2023 burning question: The most obvious question requires minimal elaboration. Who replaces the all-time leading scorer and best kicker in program history at the University of Michigan?
- A.J. Henning: 11 returns, 241 yards (21.9 yards per return)
- Roman Wilson: 5 returns, 114 yards (22.8 yards per return)
2023 burning question: Can Michigan establish a playmaker? Sixteen returns is a very small sample size between these two, but the averages have to be better. Nineteen players in college football averaged better than 25 yards per return. With limited opportunities to run one back thanks to a stellar defense, this position could serve as the ultimate counter punch in the hands of a dangerous return man.
- Brad Robbins: 43 punts, 1,818 yards (42.3 yards-per-punt)
2023 burning question: Who replaces Robbins, who has seemingly been at Michigan since the Bo Schembechler era? Sophomore Tommy Doman is the only other player to register a punt this season — one for 41 yards. A punter is referred to as the fourth down quarterback, and having a field-flipping general can ultimately swing games. Just ask Iowa.
- A.J. Henning: 28 returns, 201 yards (7.2 yards-per-return), 1 touchdown
2023 burning question: Can Henning become an elite punt returner? Early on in the year he showed promise in the punt return game as a game-breaker, but slowly cooled as the year went on. While sure-handedness is the most coveted trait for a returner, earning an additional first down (10 yards per return) is the second-most. Can he take that next step?