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3-2-1, football: The Daily’s primer on Michigan

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3-2-1, football: The Daily’s primer on Michigan

Senior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, pictured during Michigan's game against Western Michigan on Sept. 4, 2021, is one of the top players on the Wolverines' roster.

The last time Washington football played on the road was in the 2019 Las Vegas Bowl, making the gap between then and the upcoming Sept. 11 road game 630 days; the Sept. 11 game also marks redshirt quarterback Dylan Morris’ first-ever road start. 

After a disappointing week one loss to Montana, Washington looks to put that in the past and prepare for a hostile environment as it heads to Ann Arbor to face Michigan. Here are some key stats and facts to know.

3 numbers to know

4: This will be Jim Harbaugh’s fourth time going up against Washington as a head coach. His previous four meetings came while he was the head coach at Stanford. Harbaugh's record against Washington is 3-1; the last time the teams met was back in 2010 where the Harbaugh-led Cardinals won 41-0.

335: That’s how many yards Michigan ran in week one against Western Michigan. Yes, it was Western Michigan, but in 2020 Washington struggled at times against the run, allowing a combined 406 yards on the ground in the final two games. Stopping the run will definitely be a point of emphasis for the Washington defense.

0: Michigan’s starting quarterback has thrown zero interceptions in his career. Junior Cade McNamara has only gotten significant playing time in three games, but his 7-0 touchdown to interception ratio is quite impressive. After the slow performance by Washington’s offense against Montana, the defense might have to take matters into their own hands and give the team a jump start. Forcing a turnover early against McNamara and Michigan would do just that.

2 players to watch

Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson: Coming off of a 2020 season where he only played in three games due to an injury, Hutchinson is hungry to show that his sophomore season was not just a one-hit-wonder performance. During his sophomore season, Hutchinson recorded 68 tackles, 10.5 for a loss, 4.5 sacks, and six pass breakups. After allowing three sacks against Montana, Washington’s offensive line will definitely have its hands full against a confident Hutchinson, who is coming off a game where he had four tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, one pass breakup, and one blocked field goal.

Quarterback Cade McNamara: Having only two career starts under his belt, McNamara is a relatively inexperienced quarterback — however, he does have experience in high-pressure situations. In 2020 McNamara was thrust into the game against Rutgers down 17-0 with just over a half of football left. McNamara then proceeded to throw for four touchdowns and beat Rutgers in triple overtime 48-42. The game reps might not be there, but McNamara has shown poise under pressure, signifying that he’ll likely be up for the challenge against Washington.

1 Recap of last week

Against Western Michigan, Michigan did exactly what Washington did on their opening drive, marching down the field in 4 minutes and 45 seconds and scoring a touchdown.

Unlike Washington, those weren’t the only points Michigan scored — by the end of the game Michigan had put up 47 points compared to 14 for Western Michigan. Four of Michigan's six touchdowns came in drives that lasted four plays or less. This highlights Michigan’s explosiveness and big-play capability, which Washington will be looking to stop.

For the Wolverines, their offense did suffer a major loss in the form of senior wide receiver Ronnie Bell, who will be out the rest of the season with a knee injury. Bell led Michigan in receiving yards in 2020 and 2019.

With Bell out, Michigan may try to rely more on its run game, which was turning on all cylinders with 7.8 yards per attempt and three rushing touchdowns scored.

Reach reporter Nathan Mathisen at Twitter: @NathanMathisen

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