Michigan’s Dominant Season Opener
Impressive Performance Despite Key Absences
The Wolverines delivered an emphatic statement in Saturday’s season opener against East Carolina. Even with Coach Jim Harbaugh and Offensive Coordinator Sherrone Moore absent due to program-imposed suspensions related to an ongoing NCAA investigation into recruiting violations, Michigan showcased a performance usually seen in the middle of the season.
McCarthy’s Stellar Performance
J.J. McCarthy displayed his talent, completing 26 of 30 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns, all to Roman Wilson, the newly anointed No. 1 wide receiver. Wilson had an outstanding game, with six catches totaling 78 yards. Blake Corum contributed with a touchdown, and the defense nearly secured a shutout. The final score saw No. 2 Michigan football defeating East Carolina 30-3, effectively launching the 2023 season on a high note.
Strong Defensive Lineup
After the game, McCarthy expressed his thoughts, saying, “I was talking to some of the boys in the locker room yesterday, and I was like, ‘Man, I got this weird feeling,’ because I feel so good. Last year, I had to deal with a shoulder injury in the quarterback battle, and there was a lot of resistance and obstacles. This time around, it felt effortless. It felt uplifting with every snap as if everything was going right.”
Despite the absence of their top cornerback, Will Johnson, and All-Big Ten safety Rod Moore due to injuries, the defense remained solid. The Wolverines used this opener to fine-tune their rotations in the defensive line and the secondary, with players frequently rotating in and out.
Special Teams Highlights and Lowlights
The initial defensive line featured Braiden McGregor, Kris Jenkins, Mason Graham, and Jaylen Harrell, leading to a swift three-and-out for East Carolina. Subsequently, Derrick Moore, Kenneth Grant, Cam Goode, and Josaiah Stewart joined the defensive front, resulting in an interception.
Coach Minter’s Praise
Linebackers Junior Colson (with five tackles, two for loss) and Mike Barrett (with five tackles) started the game, but Ernest Hausmann also played extensively and led the team with six tackles. Jaydon Hood also received snaps in the middle.
Colson praised the defensive line, stating, “My whole front is phenomenal; they allow me to have the type of games I have. They take on double teams all day, every day, and don’t complain. Those guys don’t get enough credit for the amount of work they put in.”
- End of an Era: Michael Mmoh Ends John Isner’s Career at US Open
- Gridiron Gold: 2024 NFL Draft’s Top College Prospects for Every NFL Team
- Patrick Kane’s Ice-Comeback: Feeling Like Himself Again Just 3 Months Post-Hip Surgery!
Special Teams Performance
Special teams had their share of ups and downs. A low point occurred during the game’s first punt when return man Jake Thaw didn’t field a punt at the 30-yard line, allowing it to roll and be downed inside the 5-yard line. However, a highlight of the first half came when kicker James Turner, a transfer from Louisville and a native of Saline, booted a 50-yard field goal as time expired (surpassing his previous long of 49 yards). He attempted a 52-yarder early in the fourth quarter, which unfortunately missed wide left.
Coach Minter’s Take on the Game
Interim head coach Minter commented on Jim Harbaugh’s absence, saying, “Certainly, we’ll be better when he’s back because he’s our head coach, and I think he’s the best head coach in college football. I’m glad we were able to be the guardian of victory for the first week.”
McCarthy Leads the Offense
As for McCarthy, he didn’t attempt a pass during the first series of the day when Michigan was backed up near its end zone. However, from then on, McCarthy led the offense through his passing game. On his second series, McCarthy completed a short swing pass to Donovan Edwards before targeting Wilson, who unfortunately dropped the pass. Nevertheless, McCarthy would go on to connect on his subsequent 15 pass attempts.