May 20, 2024

A Michigan flag is flown in the end zone during an NCAA college football game against Michigan State in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The Three Most Important Wolverines Alabaman

Every Wolverine needs to be sharp in order to beat Alabama, but a few need to be as good as they can possibly

Taking on Nick Saban and Alabama in the College Football Playoff is no easy task regardless of what the season looked like. Sure, the Tide narrowly escaped Auburn during rivalry week just a couple weeks ago, and looked less than dominant throughout the year, but the playoffs are a different animal and no coach is better prepared or more experienced than Saban. With that being said, Michigan is tested, proven and talented. If these three guys play lights on on New Year’s Day, it’ll be the Wolverines that become the difficult task.

This one is pretty obvious, but if McCarthy is sharp, both as a passer and as a runner, and doesn’t turn the ball over, Michigan is very, very difficult to beat. McCarthy has been incredibly efficient all season long completing 74.2% of his passes and he’s only thrown four interceptions. Everyone remembers last year’s game against TCU when McCarthy threw two pick-sixes, which is incredibly uncharacteristic of him. If he stays away from those big mistakes, Michigan will have a great shot at beating Bama.

As a trusted captain and versatile defensive weapon, Sainristil is as important as any player on Michigan’s team. He’s able to lock receivers up in the slot and has also shown the ability to play wide corner in a pinch, which has happened a few times this season. We’ve all seen Mikey knock the ball away from a large, sure-handed tight end in Cade Stover and we’ve also seen him make incredible plays on the ball like he’s playing wide receiver again. He’s also been dynamic once the ball is in his hands taking two of his team-leading five interceptions back for touchdowns. No one knows exactly how Sainristil will be used yet but hopefully it’s some combination of covering Bama’s leading receiver Isaiah Bond and spying the dangerous dual-threat quarterback Jalen Milroe.

Speaking of Milroe, he likes to hold onto the ball, which results in him getting sacked quite a bit for a player with his athleticism. If Graham can get pressure up the middle, which he’s very capable of doing, it could flush Milroe out where he’s prone to hanging on to the ball in order to try to make a play. He trusts his own athleticism a little too much at times, which could play right into Michigan’s hands with guys like Jaylen Harrell, Josaiah Stewart and Braiden McGregor all being quite fleet of foot. Honestly, it’s not even about Graham specifically, it’s about getting pressure up the middle, which all quarterbacks will say is their worst nightmare. It could be Alabama Grant or Kris Jenkins as well and both of them are also very capable of winning on the interior.

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