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Building Towards Greatness: A First Glance at the 2023 Michigan Wolverines

The Michigan Wolverines enter the 2023 college football season with a sense of urgency and burning desire to claim their status as an elite program. After a rollercoaster ride in recent years, head coach Jim Harbaugh and his Blue-Chip roster are primed for a season of redemption since incurring a heartbreaking playoff loss to TCU in the VRBO Fiesta Bowl. In this comprehensive preview, we analyze the Wolverines' strengths, key returning players, noteworthy additions, areas for improvement, and provide a roadmap to success. Additionally, we review the statistical highlights of the 2022-2023 season to offer insights into the team's performance and potential for growth.

Last season, the Wolverines showed flashes of brilliance but ultimately fell short of their desired goal, a National Championship. They finished the season with a 13-1 record, including a 10-0 mark in the Big Ten. The offense showcased an improved passing attack, averaging 219.9 yards per game through the air. Quarterback JJ McCarthy had a solid season, completing 64.6% of his passes for 2,719 yards and 22 touchdowns. The ground game was led by running back Blake Corum, who rushed for 1,463 yards and 18 touchdowns (while only taking 2 snaps in the Ohio State game and missing the TCU game due to injury).

The Wolverines' offense enters the 2023 season with optimism and potential for growth. Led by offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore, the unit aims to build upon its strengths while addressing areas for improvement. Quarterback JJ McCarthy returns as an explosive presence under center, looking to elevate his game and take on a leadership role. The backfield features a dynamic duo in running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, who combined for over 2,454 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns last season. Wide receivers Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson provide experience and playmaking ability on the outside.

Under the guidance of defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, the Wolverines' defense aims to be a disruptive force in the upcoming season. The defensive line is anchored by a trio of standout defensive backs Rod Moore, Mike Sainristil, and Will Johnson, who combined for 8 interceptions and 156 total tackles last season. Mason Graham and Kris Jenkins provide additional pass-rushing prowess on the line. Linebacker Michael Barrett returns for his senior season as the heart and soul of the defense, while playing alongside another linebacker standout, Junior Colson. Stepping up at the EDGE position in place of the 5th round NFL draft pick Mike Morris, is Braiden McGregor who had 2.5 sacks last season.

The Wolverines' 2023 schedule presents exciting challenges and crucial matchups. The season kicks off with three non-conference games, all against Groups of Five (G5) teams, providing an opportunity for the less experienced Wolverines to gain some in-game experience. The Big Ten slate includes pivotal matchups against rivals Ohio State and Purdue. A victory over the Buckeyes would not only keep their rivalry win streak going but would surely land them in the Big Ten Championship game and a likely playoff spot. Michigan must also navigate challenging road games against Nebraska and Penn State. To achieve success, the Wolverines must focus on consistency, maintain their dominance in the trenches, and showcase a more dynamic passing attack.

The Wolverines welcome a talented transfer portal class that has the potential to make an immediate impact. Among the notable additions is four-star linebacker Ernest Hausmann, who could provide a spark and push for a starting spot. Another key addition via the transfer portal is 4-start EDGE rusher Josiah Stewart from Coastal Carolina helping to fill the void that Mike Morris will leave behind. On the offensive side, highly touted transfer from Indiana, AJ Barner brings athleticism and playmaking ability to the Tight End spot. Additionally, several players from the previous recruiting class, such as running back Cole Cabana and cornerback Jyaire Hill, have the potential to emerge as impact players in their first year with the program.

With the talent on their roster and an experienced coaching staff, expectations are high for the Michigan Wolverines in the upcoming season. The fanbase hopes to see the team repeat for the Big Ten title for a third straight season, continue the streak against Ohio State, and make a push for a national title. The keys to success lie in the development of the passing game, continued dominance in the running game, and defensive improvements in pass coverage. The Wolverines have the pieces in place to achieve greatness, and the stage is set for another historic season. As fans eagerly await kickoff, the anticipation and excitement surrounding the Wolverines' journey back to prominence is palpable.


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