In just two days, on Saturday, Michigan football will take the field and officially begin its quest for the 2023-24 national championship. The Wolverines, who have been at the top of the sport for the past few seasons, yet continue to fall short in the College Football Playoff, have their best roster and coaching staff in quite some time, and are gunning for it all this fall. Here are four things we expect to see on Saturday against East Carolina during the 2023 season opener.
1. Michigan football will get a massive game from JJ McCarthy
JJ McCarthy, a junior quarterback for the Wolverines, has been garnering an insane amount of praise ahead of the 2023 season. Last year, McCarthy beat out Cade McNamara for the QB1 role in Week 2; he then led the Maize and Blue to an impressive 13-win season with a Big Ten title and CFP appearance to match, finishing at No. 3 in the season’s final AP polls. This fall, even more is expected of McCarthy, and with QB coach Kirk Campbell calling the shots against ECU, a big game could be in store.
Furthermore, East Carolina ranked second-to-worst in passing defense last fall, meaning it could be time for the Michigan football passing offense to feast.
2. Some hiccups would not be unusual
This weekend’s game is massive for Michigan football as it kicks off the 2023 season; however, it is an unusual matchup for the Wolverines. Jim Harbaugh (head coach) and Sherrone Moore (offensive coordinator) are both suspended, and the Wolverines are working through a number of injury issues, including at safety, where both Makari Paige and Rod Moore are pretty banged up at the moment.
While Michigan football should absolutely win on Saturday — and the game shouldn’t be close — the Wolverines may experience a few growing pains as the interim staff and second-string players fill in for the weekend.
3. Rising stars will get a chance to shine
A number of freshmen, such as Semaj Morgan, Fredrick Moore, Benjamin Hall, and many others, have been garnering a ton of hype throughout spring ball and fall camp. As I mentioned, this Saturday, Michigan football has several injury issues going on, meaning many of these rising stars should get a chance to shine. At wide receiver, where Tyler Morris and Peyton O’Leary are both working through injuries, some of the names listed above, as well as freshman QB Kendrick Bell (who has been playing some wide receiver), could get their shot.
4. Wolverines continue their opening day streak
The last time Michigan football lost during Week 1 of the season was back in 2018 when the Wolverines fell just short against Notre Dame in South Bend. Michigan football proceeded to go on a 10-game winning streak immediately after, though they ultimately fell short in their final two games and finished 10-3.
Since 2019, Michigan has won every opening-day matchup — that’s four straight wins right now — and will be looking to do more of the same this year. While East Carolina could be a prickly opponent for the limited Wolverines (due to injuries and suspensions), there is no reason to believe that Michigan football won’t be able to handle its business throughout the non-conference slate and get to Big Ten play unscathed.
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