Nebraska Opponent Spring Review: Michigan
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Nebraska Opponent Spring Review: Michigan

As Nebraska enters a critical fifth season under head coach Scott Frost in 2022, we decided to look at where things stand with the Huskers’ 12 opponents coming out of spring practices.

Today, we continue with Michigan, a team that is looking to continue its dominance after making the 2021 College Football Playoffs.

Josh Henschke from the Maize and Blue Review gave his thoughts on the Wolverines' offseason and their matchup with Nebraska after an intense battle in 2021.

Related: Northwestern | North Dakota | Georgia Southern | Oklahoma | Indiana | Rutgers | Purdue | Illinois | Minnesota

Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh
Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh (Getty Images/Icon Sportswire)

Three spring storylines to know:

1. Replacing Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo

Michigan lost its best defensive player to the NFL draft when Heisman runner-up Aidan Hutchinson was selected as the overall No. 2 pick by the Detriot Lions. The defensive end had 16.5 tackles for loss in 2021 with 14 sacks and 62 total tackles.

The Wolverines also need to replace linebacker David Ojabo, who was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Ojabo was a second-team AP All-American and first-team All-Big Ten selection. He recorded 35 tackles, 12 for loss and 11 sacks with five forced fumbles.

Ojabo was projected to be picked in the first round but tore his Achilles during a drill at Michigan's pro day.

Senior defensive ends Mike Morris and Taylor Upshaw are two players with experience that Michigan is turning to for a big season.

2. Two new coordinators

Jesse Minter, who was the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Vanderbilt, is Michigan's newest defensive coordinator. Mike Macdonald left to become the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens.

Henschke said Minter and Macdonald have similar systems so there hasn't been a huge change on defense. The same goes with the offense.

Matt Weiss was Michigan's quarterbacks coach in 2021 and added the co-offensive coordinator title for 2022. Sherrone Moore, the other co-offensive coordinator, is entering his second season of being an OC and the offensive line coach.

Michigan will still be a run-heavy offense and is excited about running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards in the absence of Hassan Haskins. The Wolverines' 2022 class had a nice hall with wide receivers so Henschke said they could throw the ball more with the talent on the outside.

3. The fan favor - Quarterbacks

The most important storyline for Michigan to Henschke was replacing its draft picks, however, he said the fans have their eyes on the quarterback situation.

Senior Cade McNamara has the QB1 job locked down as he led Michigan to the College Football Playoffs in 2021. He completed 210-of-327 pass attempts for 2,576 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Behind McNamara is sophomore J.J. McCarthy, who Michigan fans are excited to see grow, according to Henschke. As a freshman, McCarthy played in 11 games and completed 34-of-59 passes for 516 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.

McCarthy was sidelined this spring due to a shoulder injury but is now throwing without pain. Depending on his recovery, it's very possible McCarthy takes a bigger role in Michigan's offense and runs certain plays or drives.

Early outlook on Nebraska vs. Michigan

Henschke: "It's interesting because that game last year was probably one that Michigan really shouldn't have won.

"I think Nebraska is hungry. It's clear they've done a really good job with the transfer portal, so this isn't going to be the same Nebraska team that Michigan saw last year. The guys who are returning from that game last year aren't going to forget about what happened.

"So I personally think it's gonna be a really interesting game. You're gonna have a really mad, and frankly, better Nebraska team that's gonna show up. This isn't a team that Michigan or their fans should take lightly. They've been improved.

"Scott Frost got something to prove as well because he's under the microscope with his performance and his contract. So I expect a far, far better team to show up against Michigan this year."

2022 win-loss prediction for Michigan

Henschke: "It's tough because Michigan's schedule is extremely favorable this year. You've got the Michigan States and the Penn State's on the record, and obviously, you gotta go to Penn State this year. But the nonconference is easy.

"You could realistically see a situation where Michigan could have 10 or 11 wins, heading into Ohio State where they go to Columbus. Not even to mention what they did last year, I think anything short of 10 wins this year is really a failure, in my opinion, just considering they return a good majority of what they had last year. It would be, to me, a failure if they get anything less than 10 wins.

"I'm always hesitant to say that Michigan is gonna beat Ohio State because you just never know. But I would not be shocked if they were 11-0 going into Ohio State to play for all the marbles this year. So I'm going to say, I think they'll go 11-1 and I think they'll lose Ohio State in Columbus."