Michigan football heads into their “maize out” prime time game against Pac-12 foe Washington without their best wide receiver, Ronnie Bell.
Not only will the Wolverines head into this game without Bell, but they’ll also be without him for the rest of the season. Ronnie Bell is out for the season with an unspecified knee injury he sustained in the first half of Michigan’s season-opening win against Western Michigan.
Three players who need to step up in Bell’s absence for Michigan football.
A.J. Henning, who is talked very highly about by his teammates and coaches, is number one on my list of Wolverines who need to step up.
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Henning got one carry against Western Michigan and took it 74 yards for a Michigan touchdown. He also had one reception for 11 yards.
Despite the big play for a touchdown, he didn’t make a big splash, but he will be more involved with Bell out. I expect McNamara to be looking his way more times than not.
Henning will also be more involved in the kick/punt return game when he gets more comfortable fielding kickoffs and punts.
A.J. Henning was a four-star wide receiver out of Illinois, and now, the Michigan football program is looking for him to step up and be the guy on offense.
2. Cornelius Johnson needs to step up for Michigan football.
Cornelius Johnson, a junior, has never really been “the guy” during his time in Ann Arbor. In 2020, he had 16 catches for 254 yards and three touchdowns.
That was a pretty good stat line, and there is reason to think that he will be able to help fill the shoes of Ronnie Bell.
Johnson had two receptions for 15 yards in week one against Western Michigan, but the Wolverines ran the ball almost exclusively, so the results for Johnson aren’t anything to be concerned about.
Based on experience, Cornelius could be the guy offensive coordinator Josh Gattis turns to early on against Washington because he knows what he brings to the table more than any other receiver on the roster.
3. Daylen Baldwin needs to step up for Michigan football.
Daylen Baldwin is a graduate transfer from Jackson State but grew up in Michigan. He attended Farmington High School, home of the Falcons.
Baldwin was on the receiving end of true freshman phenom J.J. McCarthy’s first career collegiate touchdown pass.
Daylen is finally healthy, and Jim Harbaugh and Josh Gattis have already talked to the media about him getting more involved in the offense and making an impact.
Baldwin has great length and size, so I expect him to be using that to his advantage. Expect him to get some quality looks when the Wolverines get into the red zone.
At the end of the day, if it’s not any of these three players, it has to be somebody. Michigan needs someone to step up their game to help replace Ronnie Bell, and it might mean two or three guys combined.
Michigan has a stable of running backs, which seemed to work pretty well in week one; I would assume that is still the game plan, run until they can’t run anymore. But Washington, even though they’re coming off a loss to Montana, is still a better team than Western Michigan.