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Michigan Wolverines football may have the best culture in America

Michigan Wolverines football could have the best program culture in America.

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Michigan Wolverines football, Jesse Minter, position battles
© Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Heading into the 2023 college football season, Michigan Wolverines football is being pinned as a potential national title contender and is currently the favorite to three-peat at Big Ten Champions. On the defensive side of the football, the Maize and Blue have plenty of position battles heading into the new season — included in these competitions are crucial positions like cornerback, linebacker, and edge rusher. According to second-year defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, the Wolverines have plenty of competition, but the team’s culture continues to prevail.

Michigan Wolverines football has culture that prevails in the midst of heated position battles

For many players and teams, a position battle would likely start turmoil among the roster heading into a new campaign. Yet, according to defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, who had a phenomenal year in 2022, Michigan Wolverines football is different from most programs. In fact, the position battles and how the players are responding are a testament to the culture that Jim Harbaugh has installed in Ann Arbor.

“I think the culture here that coach Harbaugh, coach Herb (Ben Herbert) — that is the foundation of the program,” Jesse Minter said on Thursday. “It’s just that whatever’s best for the team, and it’s really what everybody sort of brings every day. The competition is great. There’s competition amongst individuals at a certain position. There’s competition, offense versus defense, and trying to make each other better. Iron sharpens iron. I really think just the culture here, that mentality, sort of takes care of itself.

“The coolest thing here is that the guys in the competition are the ones helping each other the most,” Minter continued. “Some places I’ve been even where two guys are in a competition, and they’re not even sitting next to each other in the cafeteria because they’re in a heated competition. Here, these guys are great in the meeting room; they’re always trying to give each other tips and advice. Mike Barrett has probably helped Ernest Hausmann more than any player here, and that’s the guy that he’s trying to hold off to be a starter. So I think that’s what I respect most about the culture of this place and how these guys operate, and it’s really special to see every day.”

Right now, the position battles to watch are at cornerback (Amorion Walker, Josh Wallace, and more), linebacker (Michael Barrett and Ernest Hausmann), and edge rusher (Jaylen Harrell, Braiden McGregor, and more). While the team’s second string will see a lot of reps this year, whoever comes out on top after fall camp is going to be expected to perform at an All-Big Ten level as the Wolverines chase a national title throughout the coming months.



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 PodcastsSpotify, 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 offensive line is addressing key issues

This year’s Michigan football offensive line is yet to click, but it’s getting close.

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Michigan football, offensive line, Trevor Keegan, Drake Nugent
© Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

So far this year, the Michigan football offensive line has seen its ups and downs. This week, we spoke with center Drake Nugent — a transfer from Stanford — and offensive guard Trevor Keegan about how the O-line is handling its early-season issues. While the team is working hard to right the ship, as seen against Rutgers last Saturday, the Wolverines seem to be less concerned about some initial road bumps than many fans are.

Michigan football offensive line is addressing its issues

The Michigan football offensive line is known for being elite — over the past two seasons, it has won two straight Joe Moore Awards (given to the nation’s best OL annually) and more, becoming the first line to ever accomplish the feat.

Drake Nugent explains early woes

Still, with new transfers and some key departures, this year’s offensive line has been struggling to get off the ground. Despite this being the case, Michigan football is handling its business and continues to address its issues heading into Week 5.

“First few games, we struggled a little bit on the inside zone stuff, communication-wise, I kind of hit on that after one of the games — ECU,” center Drake Nugent explained. “But I think week by week we’ve gotten better, just communication-wise. There are obviously a few plays each game that you want back, but that’s part of the game; it’s part of football. But I think we’re on the right track.

“I mean, the more reps the better, obviously,” Nugent continued. “Kinda just get a feel for everything just communication-wise because obviously there’s some plays out there that like, you might not know what each other is doing but you got to like — there’s just like a little instinct that you’ve got to trust next to him like he’s gonna go still do it anyways, even though you guys may not have told each other the call or something like that. Maybe just something small like that. But just those kinds of plays where you’ve just always gotta be on the same page. Kind of like unspoken plays, I guess you could call them.”

Trevor Keegan says the Wolverines are close

Trevor Keegan, a team captain for Michigan football this year, also added that the offensive line wasn’t firing on all cylinders until mid-way through the 2022 season. So far, he says that there is a similar feeling in the room, and that the OL is close to clicking.

“I feel like the last two years — especially last year — I mean, we didn’t play too well the first five games,” Trevor Keegan explained. “We were like, ‘Yeah, there’s like no way we’re gonna win.’ We weren’t playing that well. Until the Penn State game and we’re like, ‘alright,’ and then we just kept rolling from there. So it’s gonna take a couple of weeks for us. I mean, we didn’t have a spring ball together but, I mean, once this thing gets rolling, we’re gonna be playing really well. When you have 9-10 in the box, it’s kind of hard to really break out the runs. So it’s gonna come soon, I can feel it.”

Michigan football ready for Week 5 at Nebraska

In two days, Michigan football will face Nebraska for its first road test of the 2023 season. There, the offensive line will look to build on its solid performance at Rutgers, carrying the Wolverines to a fifth-straight victory before heading to Minnesota in Week 6.



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: No need to worry about Donovan Edwards

According to Jim Harbaugh, Michigan football fans should not be worried about Donovan Edwards.

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Michigan football, Jim Harbaugh, Donovan Edwards
© Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

As many fans have noted, Michigan football running back Donovan Edwards has not been looking like his usual self so far this fall. Still, according to Jim Harbaugh — who spoke on Monday ahead of this weekend’s game against Nebraska — there is no reason to worry about Edwards’ slow start.

Michigan football: No need to worry about Donovan Edwards

So far this fall, Donovan Edwards has gotten off to a rocky start. A slow Week 1 performance seemingly carried into the following three games, leading many fans to share concern over Edwards’ play to this point in the year.

Through four games of the 2023 season, Edwards has gotten 44 touches for 209 all-purpose yards and no touchdowns. Still, head coach Jim Harbaugh says that there is no concern over Edwards’ numbers thus far — Harbaugh says there is more to a game than the box score.

What did Jim Harbaugh say?

“He’s good,” Jim Harbaugh said of Donovan Edwards on Monday. “Like he’s always been. And we play multiple backs. Statistics really don’t mean anything to us. When it comes all the players, it’s what’s good for them individually, and what’s good as a team. I see it from the individual and in the big picture with the team.

“Each individual guy, I treat that like I’m their dad, their agent, and I want what’s best for their career,” Harbaugh continued. “So in the running back position, to make a long story short here, I just don’t believe in a guy carrying the ball 30 times a game. They probably may not have some of the stats that some of the other backs have, even Blake (Corum) running the ball really good. 97 yards, we took him out of the game because I don’t think he needs another 100-yard game as much as he needs to be healthy. But the lifespan of a back their career, I don’t know what it is on average, maybe eight, nine, ten years total, including college.

“So, while they’re not getting paid, I don’t like to take the tread off the tire. I like to keep that tread on the tire. So there’s gonna be games where one back may be featured more than another. That’s that’s kind of how it’s been here. I mean, if you look at last year, look at the year before, look at the year before that, all eight years that we’ve been here. So, we’ll probably have this conversation again.

“Like next week, Dono carries more of the load. And you might ask me what happened with Blake. Blake had a heck of a game. Dono had less carries, but really affected the game catching the football. He’s an outstanding back because he can do all the things. He can run outside the tackles. He can run inside the tackles. He can pass protect, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield and get open. So, to answer your question. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Donovan Edwards.”

Michigan football ready for Week 5 test at Nebraska

This weekend, Michigan football hits the field against Nebraska — the second game of the year that Jim Harbaugh will be coaching. During Week 5, keep an eye on Donovan Edwards to finally have his breakout game, perhaps building momentum for the remainder of the season.



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 star Will Johnson identifies two breakout freshmen

According to Will Johnson, these two Michigan football freshmen are standing out quite a bit.

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Michigan football, Will Johnson, Jyaire Hill, DJ Waller
© Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Last weekend was the first time that Michigan football star Will Johnson was fully cleared to go — it was for the Wolverines’ Big Ten opener against Rutgers, a game that Michigan won 31-7. Heading into Nebraska, Johnson addressed the media earlier this week, where he identified a pair of standout freshmen for the Maize and Blue: DJ Waller and JyAire Hill.

Michigan football star Will Johnson identifies two breakout freshmen

DJ Waller standing out so far

DJ Waller, a former three-star safety, and Jyaire Hill, a former four-star cornerback, are both freshmen on this year’s Michigan football defense, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation. On Tuesday, Will Johnson dove into what makes this freshman duo special for the Wolverines.

“He’s a huge, huge corner out there. Very long, very instinctual,” Will Johnson said of DJ Waller, who also earned praise from Jim Harbaugh earlier this week. “So having those two features about him is some of the biggest you need at corner. Now you just got to, like everybody, keep getting better every week, keep working those. … And like you said, by the end of the year, he’ll be ready to go.”

Praise for Jyaire Hill

Johnson continued on about Jyaire Hill as well.

“He’s always around the ball,” Johnson said of Hill. “He’s very athletic, kind of same as a DJ (Waller) — they’re both freak athletes. Soon enough, he’ll be out there and making plays.”

Michigan football defense in good hands

The Michigan football defense is elite right now, and if these top-ranked prospects continue to pan out for the Wolverines, it sounds like the defense will continue to thrive. It is also worth pointing out that, next fall, Will Johnson will be returning to the Michigan football program, leading a group of defensive backs that includes Jyaire Hill and DJ Waller, so be on the lookout for some breakout stars emerging.

This weekend, Johnson, these freshmen, and the rest of the Michigan football team head to Nebraska for a Week 5 road bout against the 2-2 Cornhuskers.



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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