My first breakout pick is one of three rising Sophomores who I think will all breakout for the Wolverines in 2022. Andrel Anthony put up very modest stats last year while playing in only 8 games. He caught 12 passes for 248 yards, and 3 TD’s. Anthony was a hidden aspect of Michigan’s 2021 offense, and really showed out in his lone opportunity to be the focal point of the passing attack against Michigan State. He had 6 receptions, 155 yards, and 2 TD’s against MSU’s weak secondary in only his second collegiate game.
With that big game, Andrel Anthony showed he has big play potential with both his first and second TD grabs against the Spartans. The first TD showcases his electric speed, in a 93-yard catch and run. The second showcases his jump ball ability in the redzone, as he goes up to grab this ball over the DB. While Michigan’s WR room is loaded for 2022, Andrel Anthony is the guy I think will have a breakout season in 2022 because he can hurt defenses in multiple different ways.
As a true Freshman last year, Donovan Edwards had 35 rushes for 174 yards and 3 TD’s. He also chipped in 20 receptions for 265 yards and another TD. While his total stats don’t wow you, it took him several weeks into the season before he began to see meaningful game action. He was finally fully unleashed against Maryland in Week 11 where he caught 10 passes for 170 yards and a TD, showcasing both his explosiveness and his pass-catching skills out of the backfield. This clip is a glimpse into what he can do.
Edwards is just so talented, he has both elite explosion and elite receiving ability as a RB. He is a total miss match when out in space against a Linebacker. I think he will eclipse 1,500 total yards and will be Michigan’s best offensive player down the stretch in 2022. Not only will he be Michigan’s best offensive player, I think he’s a good dark-horse Big Ten POY candidate who will announce his arrival to the national stage this fall.
My last breakout pick is another talented rising Sophomore in JJ McCarthy. Playing as more of a change of pace last year, McCarthy ran the ball 27 times for 124 yards and 2 TD’s while completing 34/59 passes for 516 yards, 5 TD’s, and 2 INT’s. As you can see by his stats, McCarthy is a true dual-threat type QB. He fits better with what Matt Weiss, the Co-Offensive Coordinator, wants to do with the offense. Coming over from the Baltimore Ravens, Weiss helped engineer a rushing-centered attack featuring a rushing threat at QB in Lamar Jackson. While Cade McNamara isn’t a statue back there, JJ McCarthy is a much bigger rushing threat which will compliment the rest of the offense very well.
However Cade did start all 14 games last season, and managed to throw for 2,576 yards while completing 64% of his passes with 15 TD’s and 6 INT’s. While Cade is a good QB, he is more of a game-manager type. He can lead an offense down the field and keep the team in manageable down and distance situations, which was a perfect fit for the 2021 Michigan offense. The problem for Cade is, the 2022 offense will likely need to look different if Michigan wants to achieve all its goals this fall. Will he be able to rise to a different level in 2022? I’m not sure he can.
Gone is Hassan Haskins, who was the centerpiece of the 2021 offense with his battering ram type running style. In step the talented RB duo of Donovan Edwards and Blake Corum. This duo is more of a home run hitting type of rushing attack that will look to be more explosive on the ground this season, but will likely be less consistent. With this new style of rushing attack, the offense will also need a new type of QB to compliment it in the perfect way. This is where I think JJ McCarthy can be that perfect compliment.
With a less consistent but more explosive rushing offense, the Wolverines will need to be more balanced this fall. The QB will need to be more adept at moving the ball down the field through the air to help keep defenses off balance. JJ McCarthy is both a better runner, and also has a bigger arm to stretch the field with. This play really shows off both skill sets.
There’s no question I think Cade McNamara can QB this team to another 10+ win season, but with the additional elements of a more downfield passing game while also bringing more of a rushing threat to the table, JJ McCarthy is the only QB who can take this team to a 11-12+ win season in 2022.