ANN ARBOR, Mich. — With the easy non-conference schedule out of the way, Michigan will (finally) get to play some big-boy football this weekend.
The fourth-ranked Wolverines host Maryland in their Big Ten opener on Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium (Noon, FOX), and the expectation is that the high-powered Terps offense will provide some sort of test.
How great? That’s still up for debate. Michigan currently sits as a 17-point betting favorite in the eyes of oddsmakers, and a three-possession difference in conference play is a big deal.
If you recall, Michigan handled Maryland without much trouble last year, winning 59-18 in College Park while getting production from every which way.
They’ll look for more of that on Saturday, when Taulia Tagovailoa and a talented group of receivers come to town.
Here’s our weekly look at the Michigan injury report, and the Wolverines’ projected depth chart for the game.
Story: 4 things we think we know about UM football after 3 games
OL Trevor Keegan — Michigan’s starting left guard exited last week’s victory over Connecticut with an undisclosed upper-body injury and never returned. Head coach Jim Harbaugh categorized Keegan as probable for Saturday’s Big Ten opener, suggesting the move was more precautionary than anything. If he’s available (and it sounds like he should be), Michigan will likely have all five starters up front.
OL Karsen Barnhart — The team’s top reserve offensive lineman has been sidelined since leaving the opener against Colorado State with a sprained ankle, missing the victories over Hawaii and UConn as Harbaugh declared him “somewhere in between” questionable and probable. That suggests a return is near, giving Michigan some depth at tackle (or guard) in case injury strikes the group again.
RB Donovan Edwards — There’s been little update on the Wolverines’ backup running back this week, suggesting his status is up in the air against Maryland. He sat out the victory over UConn with an undisclosed ailment, but he was active and walking around on the sideline. This could very well be a game-time decision.
LB Nikhai Hill-Green — The sophomore inside linebacker has not played a snap yet this season as he recovers from a soft-tissue injury. Hill-Green suited up for the game against Hawaii, suggesting a return was imminent, but has not progressed as the Michigan staff would like him to. If there was ever a time for him to return, this week is it.
QB Cade McNamara — What a crushing last couple of weeks it’s been for McNamara, who went from starter to out for the next couple of weeks, at least. The senior quarterback took a big hit and fell awkwardly after delivering a pass in the win over UConn last week, then limped off the field and never returned. Harbaugh and the staff have ruled him out for Saturday’s game, and there’s a good chance he’ll miss the game next week at Iowa, too.
A quick note: We’ve been asked to confirm message board rumors about a season-ending injury to a starter, and are unable to do so. If there is something serious, look for more clarity this weekend.
Story: With Cade McNamara hurt, Michigan considers three for backup QB role
1. JJ McCarthy
2. Alan Bowman OR Davis Warren
3. Alex Orji
Notes: JJ McCarthy is the starter moving forward, and rightfully so. He put up efficient numbers again last week against UConn after playing just two-plus quarters. Look for McCarthy to play more this week. As for the backup, that role remains unclear, with Harbaugh touting graduate transfer Alan Bowman, former walk-on Davis Warren and true freshman Alex Orji as potential candidates. We project Bowman as the No. 2 guys in case of injury (he has the experience, and production), but it would come as no surprise if Warren gets some reps in a blowout. If we haven’t told you enough by now, he’s got a really strong arm.
Story: JJ McCarthy vows to ‘work my butt off’ as Michigan’s new starting QB
1. Blake Corum
2. Donovan Edwards OR CJ Stokes
3. Tavierre Dunlap
Notes: Like last week, true-freshman CJ Stokes will be Michigan’s No. 2 back if Donovan Edwards is unable to go. But expect Blake Corum to see a bulk of the carries here, especially in crunch time against a better opponent.
Story: UM football looks good, but is the success real?
Left tackle: 1. Ryan Hayes, 2. Jeffrey Percy
Left guard: 1. Trevor Keegan, 2. Giovanni El-Hadi
Center: 1. Olu Oluwatimi, 2. Greg Crippen
Right guard: 1. Zak Zinter, 2. Giovanni El-Hadi
Right tackle: 1. Trent Jones, 2. Jeffrey Percy
Notes: Our projected starters include Trevor Keegan, who is likely with an injury (see above). If he is unable to go, Karsen Barnhart (questionable) or Giovanni El-Hadi are the next available options. All eyes will be on the front five this week after a couple of so-so efforts in pass protection, which remains a weak point for the group.
Story: Did Jim Harbaugh just foreshadow the next step for Michigan’s offense?
1. Erick All OR Luke Schoonmaker
2. Joel Honigford
3. Max Bredeson OR Carter Selzer
Notes: Luke Schoonmaker and Erick All continue to play just about the same number of snaps (69 and 64, respectively), while Michigan has done a great job of working in the others in the group. Look for that to tighten up a bit as we enter Big Ten play.
Story: Michigan ready to defend Big Ten title: ‘Every team has a target on our back’
X: 1. Ronnie Bell, 2. Andrel Anthony
Y: 1. Roman Wilson, 2. AJ Henning
Z: 1. Cornelius Johnson, 2. Darrius Clemons
Notes: The trio of Ronnie Bell, Roman Wilson and Cornelius Johnson continue to eat up most of the targets, while Michigan finds roles for AJ Henning, Andrel Anthony and true-freshman Darrius Clemons. We’ll see where things go, but Anthony remains relatively inactive as the Wolverines concentrate most of the passing game towards the top three.
Story: Three games in, WR Ronnie Bell’s picked up where he left off
End/edge: 1. Mike Morris, 2. Braiden McGregor
Tackle: 1. Chris Jenkins, 2. Mason Graham
Nose: 1. Mazi Smith, 2. Cam Goode
End/edge: 1. Jaylen Harrell, 2. Taylor Upshaw 3. Eyabi Anoma
Notes: A pair of observations through three games: The workload for Braiden McGregor is increasing, while Taylor Upshaw’s time spent on the field has dropped. Perhaps it was just one week, but Michigan made it a point of using the first three games as a gauge. Expect the rotation to tighten just a bit.
Story: Stingy Michigan ‘D’ eager for test vs. Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa
1. Junior Colson
1. Michael Barrett OR Nikhai Hill-Green, 2. Kalel Mullings
Notes: Like previous weeks, Nikhai Hill-Green’s absence will play a factor here. He could be in the running to start if he’s healthy and available, but Michael Barrett and Kalel Mullings have done a fine job holding down the fort through three games. With competition expected to pick up, things may change — but having (some) depth at this spot will be key.
Story: Four Maryland players UM fans should worry about
Corner: 1. DJ Turner, 2. Mike Sainristil, 3. Will Johnson
Security: 1. RJ Moten, 2. German Green
Security: 1. Rod Moore, 2. Makari Paige
Corner: 1. Gemon Green, 2. Mike Sainristil, 3. Will Johnson
Notes: Michigan started a five-man backfield last week with Mike Sainristil, and it’s very likely it will do the same this week against an explosive, pass-happy Maryland offense. Sainristil has proven himself to be an effective pass-rusher and tackler, making the Wolverines’ coaching staff comfortable leaning on a nickel look opposed to three linebackers.
Story: Mike Sainristil finds his groove at a new position
Placekicker: 1. Jake Moody, 2. Tommy Doman
Kick return: 1. Roman Wilson
Punter: 1. Brad Robbins, 2. Tommy Doman
Punt return: 1. AJ Henning, 2. Ronnie Bell
Notes: After last week’s punt return for a touchdown, AJ Henning isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
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