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A Position Battle To Watch Heading Into Michigan’s Spring Practices

There’s an important position battle that is going under the radar thing spring.

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Michigan's spring practices
Sep 3, 2022; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back C.J. Stokes (23) rushes in the second half against the Colorado State Rams at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday is the final day of Michigan’s “offseason,” as spring practice starts on Monday. The Wolverines are coming off of a massive 13-1 Big Ten title run a season ago, and this year, fans could be looking at a Michigan football National Championship for the first time in 26 years. There’s a seemingly unimportant position battle that fans should keep an eye on heading into Michigan’s spring practices.

Michigan’s Spring Practices Will Determine RB3

I will admit, a 3rd-string running back battle may not seem like much to talk about heading into a season full of massive expectations, though I am still fixated on who will become the Michigan Wolverines’ RB3. We already know the order of the top-two backs on Michigan’s roster — Blake Corum will be RB1, and Donovan Edwards will be RB2 just as we saw a season ago.

RB3 will likely come down to rising sophomore back C.J. Stokes, and four-star true freshman Cole Cabana. Both bring separate skillsets to the table for Michigan football, and seeing as Edwards and Corum will both be NFL Draft eligible after this season, this could be the Michigan Wolverines’ next great running back duo.

C.J. Stokes, Cole Cabana Are The Future Of The Wolverines’ Offense

A season ago, Michigan fans saw a freshman C.J. Stokes help the Wolverines in a few key situations with Corum and Edwards went down with injury. In 2022, Stokes ran the football 55 times for 273 yards and one touchdown — he also caught one pass for 15 yards. Stokes did not turn heads nationally, though he did prove to be a serviceable back, and heading into 2023, could end up with a larger role because of it.

Stokes’ counterpart during Michigan’s spring practices will be true freshman Cole Cabana, who headlined Jim Harbaugh’s most recent recruiting class. Cabana is a four-star composite prospect from Dexter High School in Dexter, Michigan. Cabana comes in as a 6-0, 180lbs back with huge aspirations of becoming the next great Wolverine to carry the rock.

It may not be on many national radars, but the future of Michigan football is battling it out for the RB3 spot on the Wolverines’ 2023 offense, and is something to keep an eye on for fans throughout Michigan’s spring practices.

Thank you for reading Blue by Ninety. For more Michigan Athletics content from Blue by Ninety, follow us on TwitterFacebookand Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel. For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email our Managing Editor at Cj@BluebyNinety.com. Also, be sure to check out our shop and our podcast, which is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and all other steaming platforms. It is because of your support that we have become one of the fastest and most influential Michigan media outlets there is!

FOOTBALL

Top analyst has an interesting message for Michigan football fans

Top analyst Joel Klatt has some interesting thoughts about Michigan football heading into the Wolverines’ Big Ten opener this weekend.

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Michigan football fans, Joel Klatt, Big Ten conference, Penn State, Ohio State
Sep 9, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Roman Wilson (1) celebrates his touchdown against the UNLV Rebels with teammates during the first half at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Last weekend, the Maize and Blue won their third-straight game of the 2023 season, downing the Bowling Green State Falcons by 25 points at home. While JJ McCarthy and the offense struggled, the Wolverines are still undefeated heading into Big Ten conference play this weekend. Still, with Penn State and Ohio State playing great football right now, top college football analyst Joel Klatt has an interesting message for Michigan football fans — he thinks that folks in Ann Arbor should be “antsy” right now.

Joel Klatt has an interesting take for Michigan football fans

Sure, last weekend’s victory over Bowling Green wasn’t pretty; however, Ohio State and Penn State have both seen their fair share of struggles so far this year. In fact, even outside of the Big Ten conference, schools like Texas, Alabama, and even Georgia have not been looking like their usual selves lately. Still, Joel Klatt says that there should be some tension among the Michigan football fanbase due to recent lackluster play during the non-conference slate.

“With what’s going on in the Big Ten East, namely Penn State and Ohio State? I would feel antsy if I were you, Michigan fans,” Joel Klatt explained on his show, ‘The Joel Klatt Show.’ “The one thing that will derail your season faster than anything else is if JJ McCarthy starts to turn the ball over. That’s why I would be antsy.”

“I know you’re going to run the football fine, I really do. I’m pretty confident that the defense is going to play really well. The one unknown is how efficient can JJ (McCarthy) play? Now, he was really good a year ago until late. Obviously, the TCU game (last year’s College Football Playoff semi-final), it got a little bit loose, and guess what? They (Michigan football) lost.”

Thoughts on what Klatt said about the Wolverines heading into Big Ten conference play

Now, I am going to disagree with Joel Klatt a bit here in a few aspects. First off, Michigan football has not proven that it can run the football consistently yet, and the offensive line is yet to mesh. This idea that the rushing attack will be elite this year because it was last year is simply not true — it’s a hard thing to admit, but fans are yet to see the same bruising Wolverines that they did over the past two seasons. Not that it won’t develop, but so far, Michigan is not nearly as dominant on the ground as it was in 2021 and 2022.

Additionally, Klatt said that JJ McCarthy was good in 2022 until late in the season, which is really not that accurate. JJ McCarthy was not seen as a great quarterback until the Ohio State game hit — not to say that fans didn’t see the talent, but he struggled to really get things going consistently until the final three games of the year, including the Wolverines’ CFP loss.

Right now, Michigan football fans should not be too concerned, if you ask me. That said, as the weeks go by and the Penn State and Ohio State matchups get closer, we need to see more from the Wolverines. The fact of the matter is that, with Michigan’s schedule this year, the Maize and Blue can have many shortcomings and still begin the year 9-0 — it’s the final three games that will truly define the 2023 team, so long as they can avoid upset beforehand.


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Michigan football coach explains what makes Rutgers’ offense dangerous

Michigan football coach Jesse Minter explains what makes Rutgers’ offense so dangerous.

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Michigan football, Jesse Minter, Rutgers, Greg Schiano
Nov 5, 2022; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Michigan Wolverines linebacker Michael Barrett (23) returns an interception during the second half against the Michigan Wolverines at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are coming to town this weekend to face off against the 2nd-ranked Wolverines for both teams’ Big Ten opener. Both Rutgers and Michigan are 3-0 right now with two of the top defenses in the nation, and on Saturday, Greg Schiano and Jim Harbaugh will clash in a Big Ten matchup for the fourth time. It’s worth noting that, while the Wolverines are undefeated against Rutgers during Harbaugh’s tenure, Schiano has always given the Maize and Blue a close game. Yesterday, second-year Michigan football coach Jesse Minter (DC) explained why the Scarlet Knights’ offense is dangerous.

Michigan football cannot afford to overlook the Rutgers Scarlet Knights

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are heading into Big Ten play with their heads held high, boasting a 3-0 record on the season thus far. Perhaps Rutgers’ most impressive victory in quite some time was last weekend’s blowout win over Virginia Tech, which is yet another momentum builder for Greg Schiano heading into Week 4, which will be Jim Harbaugh’s first game in the Big House in over 300 days.

Michigan football coach Jesse Minter explains why Greg Schiano & Co. are so dangerous

According to Jesse Minter, Rutgers has an offense that is physical and methodical, making them a solid Big Ten test for the Wolverines’ top-ranked defense, which recently climbed to No. 1 in the nation after a 31-6 win over Bowling Green.

“Their physicality,” Jesse Minter said yesterday, talking about Rutgers’ offense. “They play a style of football to try to control the clock, gain yards running the football, pretty safe throws in the passing game. A quarterback that adds an element in the rushing attack as well. They’re built how coach Schiano teaches and just as how I would portray probably a longtime super successful defensive coordinator, how his team would be built is how they play right now. And they play a complementary football similar to us.

“I would say where their defense is playing well, their special teams is always really good,” Minter continued. “And then they play complementary football. So even though maybe they don’t score 50, but they’re controlling the clock, they’re getting touchdowns, they’re getting the lead, they’re keeping the lead, they’re able to play pretty conservative and not put themselves in harm’s way. And that formula over the first three games, they’ve been really successful with.”

Michigan football enters this weekend’s game as a 24-point favorite over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Last year, despite being down by a field goal at halftime, the Wolverines put Rutgers to bed on the road, 52-17.



Thank you for reading Blue by Ninety. For more Michigan Athletics and Big Ten content from Blue by Ninety, follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel. For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email our Publisher at Cj@BluebyNinety.com. Also, be sure to check out our shop and our podcast, which is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all other streaming platforms. It is because of your support that we have become one of the fastest-growing and most influential Michigan media outlets there is!

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Michigan football DC Jesse Minter shares thoughts on Harbaugh’s return

This weekend, Jim Harbaugh will be coaching Michigan football against Rutgers, and Jesse Minter seems thrilled!

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Michigan football, Jim Harbaugh, Jesse Minter, Rutgers
© Junfu Han via Imagn Content Services, LLC

It has been over 300 days since Jim Harbaugh coached a game at the Big House in Ann Arbor — the last time it happened was in mid-November of last year against Illinois. On Saturday, the Wolverines’ 9th-year head coach will make his return debut for the 2023 season; yesterday, Michigan football DC Jesse Minter (2nd season) shared his thoughts on what having Harbaugh back will mean for the Maize and Blue.

Jim Harbaugh set to return to the Big House for Michigan football Big Ten opener

Three games into the 2023 season, Michigan football is undefeated and has the No. 1-ranked defense in the nation, just as many anticipated. Jesse Minter, the Wolverines’ incredible second-year defensive play-caller, was interim coach for Week 1, though has since returned to his regular DC duties. In two days, when Jim Harbaugh finally re-takes the field as head coach in Ann Arbor, he will be met with thunderous applause as the Maize and Blue look to start Big Ten play with a win over Rutgers.

Michigan football DC Jesse Minter excited for Harbaugh’s return this weekend

Here is what Michigan football DC Jesse Minter had to say on Wednesday in regards to Jim Harbaugh and his fast-approaching return to the sidelines:

“I think anytime you take your leader, the guy that all these guys signed up to play for there, that one of the best head coaches in the world at any sport, any level, it’s different,” Jesse Minter said of Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh. “You’re asking other people to juggle different jobs. And so, now that he’s back, I think it allows everybody to have a really, really tight focus on their particular responsibility. I think it was a good experience, not something wanted based on the circumstances but appreciated the way coach did it. I think it was good for everybody; gave everybody a different perspective. And just like he kind of said, gained perspective from not being there, I think we all gain perspective for how much we appreciate him, and how he goes about his business being the head coach now, having done that for a little bit.

“I couldn’t be more happy and excited to have him back,” Minter said. “I think our team feeds off of his leadership. I said it before, he just breeds this confidence into our players. And I would expect the guys to be pretty excited to run out the tunnel with him this week.”

Wolverines ready to host Rutgers on Saturday

Michigan football is taking on a team that, historically, Jim Harbaugh has struggled with, at least during the Greg Schiano era. In 2020, Rutgers took the Wolverines to 3OT; in 2021, it was a one-score game, and last year, Rutgers held a lead heading into halftime.

Still, Michigan is currently favored by 24 points and has an 85% chance of victory, per the ESPN FPI.



Thank you for reading Blue by Ninety. For more Michigan Athletics and Big Ten content from Blue by Ninety, follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel. For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email our Publisher at Cj@BluebyNinety.com. Also, be sure to check out our shop and our podcast, which is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all other streaming platforms. It is because of your support that we have become one of the fastest-growing and most influential Michigan media outlets there is!

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