Here it is: The first really big test for Iowa this season. The first four games will not be easy—there are no easy games in college football—but, undoubtedly, the Michigan Wolverines are the first big step on the schedule and certainly a game every Hawkeyes fan has circled on their calendar.
Everyone remembers what happened the last time Iowa crossed paths with the Wolverines. It wasn’t pretty for the Hawkeyes at all in the 2021 Big Ten championship game as Michigan routed Iowa, 42-3.
Both teams have a bit of a roster shakeup, especially Michigan with two star defensive ends off to the NFL. As they are nearly every year, Michigan will be as tough as they come in the Big Ten. Here are the players that Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh is counting on to get them back to the College Football Playoff this season.
Cade McNamara or J.J. McCarthy, quarterback
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Nobody really knows just who will be the starting quarterback for Michigan in 2022. We do know the two competitors, because they’re the same guys from last year.
Cade McNamara was the primary starter for the Wolverines last year, and while he might not be the most special quarterback out there, he’s more than capable of leading Michigan to victories. He can make some nice throws here and there and is overall an average to above-average quarterback. McNamara guided Michigan to its first College Football Playoff appearance after passing for 2,576 yards and 15 touchdowns against six interceptions.
J.J. McCarthy also got snaps last season. His talent and potential were too high to just keep him off the field. The former five-star quarterback has the potential to make Michigan a national contender again, but he hasn’t been tried as a true full-time starter. Even if he doesn’t win the job, expect to see him take snaps every now and again.
Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, running backs
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Michigan just keeps producing very good running backs. Two years ago they had Zach Charbonnet who is now killing it at UCLA. Hassan Haskins had his breakout senior year last year with 20 touchdowns. As his backup, Blake Corum looked every bit a future superstar back for the Wolverines, tallying a shade under 1,000 yards and registering 11 rushing touchdowns. A shifty speedster, Corum looks to be one of the best backs in the nation in 2022.
Sophomore running back Donovan Edwards looks to pretty much take Corum’s place from last year as the superb change of pace back. Edwards brings a lot to the Wolverines’ receiving game, catching 20 passes for 265 yards and a touchdown last year. He could be the perfect receiving complement to Corum in a 1A, 1B system.
Junior Colson, linebacker
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When I read that Junior Colson was only a freshman last year, my jaw dropped. Despite his youth and inexperience, the former four-star Tennessee native did not look out of place and consistently flashed on the screen. A former wide receiver, Colson brings that athleticism to the linebacker position. With 60 tackles in his first year as a starter, expect Colson to take a big leap forward with more experience under his belt.
Mazi Smith, defensive tackle
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Defensive ends Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo received all the attention last year and for good reason. Both had over ten sacks and would have been first-round NFL draft picks if Ojabo did not tear his Achilles at his Pro Day.
They weren’t the only talented players on that defensive line though. While not a stat stuffer, defensive tackle Mazi Smith was the glue that held the Michigan defense together. He caught my eye early on last year and people are finally starting to see how good he is. Teams can barely run the ball up the middle on Michigan when he’s on the field. He’s so strong and great at standing his ground and is one of the best run defenders in the game.
Rod Moore, safety
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The secondary is where Michigan is losing a lot of talent. Daxton Hill was one of the best players in the country last year. There’s a reason he was a first-round NFL draft pick. He played all over the Michigan defense as a chess piece. Longtime stalwart of the program Brad Hawkins has graduated as has cornerback Vincent Gray.
Players such as Rod Moore will be looked at to step up their game. Moore, a freshman safety last year, showed some good things on film and has some draft analysts excited about his potential.
Full Iowa 2022 schedule breakdown thus far
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