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November 03, 2021 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily

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As the Michigan football team
went through its normal Monday
walkthrough last week, Andrel
Anthony noticed he was playing a
bigger role than usual.
“I definitely realized I was going
to have a big part in this game,” the
freshman receiver said a week later.
“I didn’t know it was going to be that
big, but I knew I was going to have a
shot, an opportunity, to make a play
and capitalize on that.”
That’s exactly what he did.
Six catches, 155 yards and two
touchdowns later, Anthony emerged
as a bright spot in the Wolverines’
37-33 loss to Michigan State on
The East Lansing native wasted
no time making noise in his
homecoming. On Michigan’s third
play from scrimmage, he caught a
crossing route in stride from junior
quarterback Cade McNamara — his
first career reception — and turned

the corner before the Spartans’
secondary could catch up. A few
seconds later, he trotted into the end
zone to cap off a 93-yard touchdown
— the second-longest in program
“Being able to be put in a position
by the coaches and stuff like that,
players believing in me, Cade giving
me opportunities, stuff like that, it
meant the world to me,” Anthony
said. “Yeah, I’m a true freshman, but
(coaches) really believe in me. That
meant a lot to me.”
touchdown in the second half, this
time from freshman quarterback
J.J. McCarthy. Michigan coach
Jim Harbaugh spotted Anthony
and McCarthy voluntarily working
out on the practice field together,
along with freshman running back
Donovan Edwards, following the
Wolverines’ road trips to Wisconsin
and Nebraska. Anthony and Edwards
used the time to rep different routes
high and low throws to their back

When Anthony saw the ball leave
McCarthy’s right hand on Saturday
afternoon, he had a flashback to those
freshman sessions.
“I was like, ‘OK, this is just like
after the Wisconsin game when
we got back,’ ” Anthony said.
“The connection we have already
is amazing, and it’s just going to
continue to grow.”
For Michigan, the timing of
Anthony’s emergence is critical. With
senior receiver Ronnie Bell out for
the season and sophomore receiver
Roman Wilson nursing a wrist injury,
Anthony filled the void in a big way on
Bell, in particular, played a
significant role in getting Anthony
ready for the moment. From the time
Anthony stepped foot on campus, the
duo studied the playbook together
and stayed in the gym for their own
lifts after teamwide weight room
“He always told me he believes in
me, and it meant a lot to me because
I looked up to him in high school,”
Anthony said. “I was like, ‘Ronnie

Bell believes in me?’ ”
Since arriving as an early enrollee
in January, Anthony has focused on
becoming a better playmaker. He
was known as a deep threat in high
school, but he’s since added nearly
10 pounds of muscle while retaining
his speed and explosiveness. The
additional strength has helped him
make plays on short and intermediate
routes while also improving his
ability to make contested catches
— a major focal point of Michigan

offensive coordinator Josh Gattis’s
Still, Anthony’s blocking struggles
kept him off the field early on
this season. Given how much the
Wolverines run the ball, wide receiver
blocking is at the top of the priority
among the team’s receivers. Anthony
said coaches got on him about
blocking during spring practices and
fall camp, which forced him to focus
more on that area.
A few months later, Anthony

feels he’s come into his own. And his
teammates see it too.
“He’s been having a very good
last couple weeks of practice,”
said. “He’s been very detailed. He’s
just been practicing very well and
understanding that, with guys like
Roman not playing and Ronnie hurt,
he has to play a higher role and step up
in the offense.
“That’s just who he is. He finally
had the chance to showcase it.”

East Lansing native Andrel Anthony had two touchdowns on Saturday against Michigan State.

We’ve said it so many times:
This week is the real test.
We said it about Washington.
And Wisconsin. And Nebraska. And
Michigan State.
Each week, we
unpacked Michi-
gan’s win with a
footnote that the
game wasn’t the
test we thought it
would be. Until the
to East Lansing.
importance had been touted all week.
It would be the in-state rivals’ first
top 10 matchup since 1964. A win for
either team would create a new mea-
suring stick for success and cement
conference — and even national —
championship potential.
Through the first half, it looked
like coach Jim Harbaugh would
clinch the biggest win of his Michigan
career. Then, the Wolverines hemor-
rhaged a 16-point third quarter lead,
and the visions of a championship
season got a little dimmer.
After the game, Harbaugh sat
dejected at the podium with little to
“That didn’t go the way we wanted
(it) to,” he said.
Once again, facing its tough-
est competition, Michigan failed to
Now, all eyes turn towards Penn

State, when we will learn if this team
truly is different from the past.
Regardless of Saturday’s outcome,
Michigan knows how to win. It’s
come up in big moments, built up its
passing game when its run game is
stopped and constructed an efficient
two-quarterback system out of a
starter that’s largely considered to be
just “good enough.”

In each consecutive game this
season, it’s looked like the Wolver-
ines have added another dimension
to their offense, staying true to a
rush-centered strategy anchored by
Corum and Haskins while exploring
the other weapons in their arsenal.
On Saturday, that dynamic, top 10
team made uncharacteristic mistakes.
It wasn’t so much that it was simply

bested but that its miscues accumulat-
ed. Michigan wasn’t playing at it’s best.
Now it’s about how it responds.
“This season’s not over,” sixth-year
center Andrew Vastardis said after
Saturday’s game. “Not even close.”
Yes, the season isn’t over. The Wol-
verines have four more games left,
but two — against the Nittany Lions
and Ohio State — will be among their

toughest of the season. Theoretically,
Michigan could finish with a record
of 11-1 with a shot at the College Foot-
ball Playoff. Or it could be 8-4 with an
appearance at an insignificant bowl
If history is any indicator, it’ll be
closer to the latter. Last season, an
initial 49-24 win against No. 21 Min-
nesota inflated fans expectations. But

after a loss to the Spartans the fol-
lowing week, the Wolverines never
recovered and ended the season 2-4.
The year before, a string of midseason
Big Ten wins buoyed their hopes only
to be dashed in back-to-back blowouts
against Ohio State and Alabama. In
2018, Michigan beat its first eight con-
ference opponents, still to lose to the
Buckeyes and Florida.
Yes, this team can win, but can it
recover from a loss?
“It’s a learning experience,” Vas-
tardis said.
Maybe it will be. Players and
coaches have continually repeated
the mantra that this Michigan team
is different. And they’ve backed
those assertions. This Michigan
team looked different when, facing
mediocre preseason expectations, it
beat Washington. It looked different
when it beat Wisconsin on the road.
It looked different when it came out
ahead in a fourth quarter dogfight
against Nebraska.
As the Wolverines rose in the
rankings, so did the stakes. Fans that
originally would have been satisfied
with an 8-4 season are looking, real-
istically, at a floor of 9-3.
But, if this Michigan team is dif-
ferent, it won’t be because of a 7-0
run. It’ll be because it learns how to

Managing Sports Editor Lane

Kizziah can be reached on Twitter


SportsWednesday: Is this Michigan team different?



While Michigan State celebrated
a game-clinching interception on
Saturday, Jim Harbaugh stalked the
sidelines. He paced up and down,
seemingly unsure what to do after
Michigan relinquished a 16-point lead
and its chance at a marquee victory.
Two days later, the pain of the
loss partly subsided, Harbaugh again
resembled his passionate, fiery self.
“Resolve is to get back to work and
get prepared for this next opponent,”
the Michigan coach said on Monday.
“That’s the way I woke up today.
Determined. Attack with the new
resolve that it’s a new season. A new
day, a new week, a new four-game
season. Let’s get at it.
“My approach, very similar to a
fighter. You get up, referee wipes your
gloves and you come back even more
determined, with even more resolve
to prepare, to work harder, to find a
way to finish and to win.”
The players appeared to match
afternoon, the Wolverines gathered
for a players-only meeting inside
Schembechler Hall, a decision put forth
by the appointed leadership council.
According to junior receiver Mike
Sainristil, it’s the third such meeting the
team has had this season.
The intention?
“Just being able to re-center our
focus as a team,” Sainristil said.
Individually, each player spent
the past two days decompressing
in different ways. Junior defensive
end Mike Morris took 48 hours to
get the loss out of his system, but has
since switched his focus to Indiana.

Sainristil watched film on a select
number of plays, which prompted a
“We have a lot left in us as a team,”
Sainristil said. “We’re still trending in
the right direction. There’s a lot left on
the table for us. There’s big things still
to come.”
contingent of Michigan’s veteran
players have stressed the importance
of setting an example. None of
the freshmen have dealt with the
aftermath of a loss. The sophomores
haven’t been on a team that handles
a loss well.
As a part of the leadership council,
Sainristil has helped to curate the
team’s new rallying cry.
“We’re still in this,” Sainristil said.
“There’s no need to worry. We just
have to bounce back and take this past
weekend for what it is, go over film
and just correct our mistakes. Learn
where we can get better.”
There are, of course, several tangible
areas in which the Wolverines can
improve. Even before this weekend,
Michigan had plenty of flaws; the
Spartans merely magnified them.
three realms that the Wolverines are
focusing on this week.
The effort starts with Michigan
remedying its shambolic defensive
defensive system is predicated on
rotations, which is meant to keep
players fresh. On Saturday, that plan
collapsed in the face of Michigan
State’s up-tempo offense, leading to
multiple flags and rampant confusion.
“Usually we’re off the field very
quickly, we do it at a timely pace,”
Morris said. “This week, it just didn’t
happen. Their pace was too fast. It

was just happening way too fast, it just
didn’t match up.”
On the offensive side of the ball,
Harbaugh stressed the need for
cleaner run-blocking to ensure that
the running backs aren’t hit on the
line of scrimmage. Michigan State
held the Wolverines to a season-
low 146 rushing yards, eliminating
Michigan’s true bread and butter.
The culmination of those offensive
woes is the inability to finish inside
the red zone. On Saturday, the
Wolverines only mustered a field goal
on four separate trips to the red zone,
an issue that Harbaugh lamented as
“a big one every week.”
As the season reaches the home
stretch, it’s imperative that the
Wolverines build upon those three
aspects. Ultimately, Harbaugh is
confident that they will progress,
rather than wilt, moving forward.
“I’ve seen the team for a long
time now, the way they respond,”
Harbaugh said. “Whether it’s a
setback or chatter, I know how they’re
going to respond…which is with more
resolve, more determined to prepare
and get ready for our next ballgame.”

Michigan’s plan to move forward after
crushing loss to Michigan State

True freshman Andrel Anthony
shines in return to East Lansing

Daily Sports Editor

Daily Sports Editor

After its loss to Michigan State, Michigan
coach Jim Harbaugh has a few specific
areas he looks to improve in.

The Michigan football team could still salvage its season after Saturday’s loss against Michigan State if it learns from its mistakes.

The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com

Cade McNamara started off with
a bang.
On Michigan’s first third down
of the game, the junior quarterback
completed a pass to freshman receiv-
er Andrel Anthony for 93 yards and
the Wolverines’ first touchdown —
the first of the freshman’s career.
Although the Wolverines ulti-
mately fell to Michigan State, 33-37,
McNamara had the best game of
his own career by almost any
measure. Going 28-for-44 for
383 yards, he topped his career
best in passing attempts, pass-
es completed and total yards.
He completed over 125 more
yards than his previous sea-
son high against Nebraska,
when the passing game really
McNamara’s presence has
grown on the field throughout
the season, evidenced not only
by his growing stat sheet but
also how comfortable he looks
in the pocket. Even beyond the
he advanced Michigan with
throws an earlier iteration of this
offense never would have been able
to complete.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh
utilized freshman quarterback J.J.
McCarthy as well, despite McNa-
mara’s strong performance for the
majority of the game. The fresh-
man tallied three completed passes
on four attempts for 23 yards and a
touchdown. Collectively, the duo’s
406 passing yards bested the Spar-
tans’ 196.
Still, the quarterback duo exhib-

ited some uncharacteristic errors
that ultimately gave Michigan State
the upper hand.
“We were confident we could
move the ball,” McNamara said. “It
was a combination of good pass pro
today — we just came up short and
that’s on me. I didn’t execute good
enough for us to win this one.”
Perhaps the most blatant example
came from McCarthy in the fourth
quarter. With 7:12 minutes on the
clock and Michigan up by three,
McCarthy was brought back onto
the field. At 1st-and-10, McCarthy

and sophomore running back Blake
Corum fumbled the exchange, and
the ball was recovered by Spartan
defensive end Jacob Panasiuk. The
ensuing drive resulted in a Michi-
gan State touchdown and ultimately
handed the Spartans the game.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh
caught a lot of flak for the choice of
McCarthy over McNamara after the
game. When asked about the play, he
simply remarked that “it did not go
smoothly” and that McNamara was
“working through some stuff” at the

Even if the misstep was the final
nail in the Wolverines’ coffin, it was
hardly the only one.
the previous possession as well,
although it didn’t result in a turnover.
In Michigan’s last-ditch attempt at a
comeback, McNamara didn’t fare
much better.
Down by four with 1:15 minutes
left and the ball at the 33-yard line,
McNamara returned to the field.
After a roughing the passer call
gave the Wolverines 15 free yards,
he threw a pass that was
intercepted by Michigan State
corner Charles Brantley, extin-
guishing Michigan’s last hope
of a comeback.
Combined, McCarthy and
McNamara went 16-for-22 for
252 yards in the first half and
15-for-26 for 154 yards in the
second. Neither could execute
in the red zone, as evidenced
by Michigan’s four field goals.
And, for that, McNamara
feels responsible.
“I think we had a couple
plays, there was a few plays
that stand out, there’s not
many,” McNamara said. “I
think I needed to do better. I just
can’t do that at the end of the game.
I’ve gotta check it down or some-
Though he couldn’t finish the job
on Saturday, what was once a glaring
weakness of this offense — its pass-
ing game — has transitioned into a
strength. When called upon, McNa-
mara moved the ball through the air
to keep the Wolverines in the game
and to the precipice of beating a top
10 team.
He just couldn’t finish the game.

Despite career game from McNamara,
quarterbacks still struggle

Managing Sports Editor

Wednesday, November 3, 2021 — 11

In future weeks, the Wolverines will once again
demand that McNamara prove himself.

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