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Interview with Football Frenemies: Michigan Wolverines

We had questions, we got some answers

NCAA Football: Michigan at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of Penn State’s trip to Michigan Stadium on Saturday, we had the chance to ask a few questions of Trevor Woods, who covers Wolverine football for Maize and Brew. By the way, definitely slide over to that site and check out Trevor’s interview with Christian Hackenberg. Click HERE for a direct link.

It seems as though the awkward quarterback shuffle is behind Harbaugh and crew now, so how are you feeling about the offense moving forward with J.J. McCarthy?

The offense looks promising with McCarthy through his first five starts. Michigan’s offense still has a potent rushing game with Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, an offensive line that won the Joe Moore Award in 2021 (best offensive line in the nation) and has played well in consecutive weeks. McCarthy has been impressive this season. While the 19-year-old QB could start landing deep balls with more consistency, his ability to use his legs and overall play as a passer have both been noticeable and commendable. McCarthy’s completion percentage of 78.3 is the best in the nation among qualified passers. The feeling I’m getting is McCarthy and Michigan’s passing offense want to get it cooking against a talented Penn State pass defense. We’re about to learn a lot about Michigan’s offense, and Penn State’s defense.

Michigan’s defense lost two of the top edge rushers in the country last year, but they were still relentless, especially in the second half at Indiana. How have you viewed that unit’s reload?

The reload hasn’t been a complete surprise based on comments from Jim Harbaugh and defensive coaches this off-season. Harbaugh said Mike Morris could become the next Aidan Hutchinson or David Ojabo, and he’s lived up to that hype so far. Then there’s a rotating cast of guys like Eyabi Okie, Taylor Upshaw, and Jaylen Harrell to name a few. Defensive coordinator Jesse Minter said that a lot of players would contribute as pass-rushers this season, and he has been true to his word. Michigan tallied seven sacks against Indiana, and they came from seven different players.

I saw the starting right tackle go down on Saturday against the Hoosiers. How are the Wolverines health-wise heading into the matchup against Penn State and ahead of a bye week?

This is always a rough one for me to answer as there’s never really an injury report given at Michigan during media availabilities. With that said, tight end Erick All hasn’t played for a while, expect that to continue. Right tackle Trente Jones may have a high-ankle sprain and is likely out. Receiver Roman Wilson hasn’t played in recent weeks but he may be back for this one. Former starting QB Cade McNamara suffered a leg injury last month and hasn’t suited up since. Linebacker Nikhai Hill-Green hasn’t played yet this year but could be nearing a return.

Outside of that 2016-2018 stretch of trading blowouts, Franklin vs. Harbaugh has been a matchup decided in the fourth quarter. What are some keys you’ll be focused on Saturday and any predictions?

I’m very interested in seeing if Penn State can stop Michigan’s rushing attack. If they’re able to do so that changes how Michigan operates passing the ball. McCarthy has been lethal in the play-action, completing 22-of-25 passes with four touchdowns — those numbers are best in the nation.

I’m also focusing on whether Michigan’s pass-rush can get home like they did a season ago. Sean Clifford was battered and bruised heading into Michigan’s 21-17 win last season but still had a Herculean effort in defeat, taking seven sacks and plenty more quarterback hits and pressures.

I feel this game could go either way and both squads are quite even across the board. Thanks for your time Penn State fans, I wish your program well.

We thank Trevor for his time and definitely recommend heading over to Maize and Brew to check out their coverage of Saturday’s game.