Cade McNamara, Michigan tackle high-scoring neighbors

National Sports

The University of Michigan opens its football season against a program with zero success against the Wolverines.

Following a miserable 2020 season, Michigan shuffles into a new season looking for a positive start.

The Wolverines have a 7-0 record against Western Michigan, with the most recent meeting in 2018. They’ll square off at Michigan’s Big House in Ann Arbor on Saturday.

Michigan finished last season with a 2-4 record and had its last three games canceled due to COVID-19 issues.

Sophomore Cade McNamara won a training camp competition for the starting quarterback job. McNamara appeared in four games last season, including a stellar relief effort against Rutgers when he threw for four scores and ran for another in a triple-overtime win.

“He’s ratcheted it up, really, in a lot of different areas,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. “The biggest one is consistency. Consistency of doing his job. Also, call it a talent of really making everyone else around you better. Maybe that is the most important part of being a quarterback.”

The rushing attack is led by Hassan Haskins, who has gained 997 yards and scored 10 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Ronnie Bell and Cornelius Johnson are the top returning wide receivers.

Western Michigan’s offense will test a Michigan defense that struggled to get off the field against any opponent last season.

The Broncos finished 4-2 a year ago playing a Mid-American Conference schedule. Quarterback Kaleb Eleby threw for 1,715 yards and 18 touchdowns, while running back La’Darius Jefferson averaged 5.6 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns.

“Offensively, they’re really good at what they do,” Harbaugh said. “They execute really well, at a high level. Quarterback Eleby, really fantastic. When you rank third in the country in pass efficiency, that’s playing really efficient, that’s playing really good football. La’Darius, a fine running back. All the running backs are really. They’re north-south guys, they hit holes fast.”

Western Michigan coach Tim Lester is wary of U-M defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and safety Dax Hill.

“They are an extremely talented team, big, fast and they have one of the best pass rushers in the country, projected to be a top-five pick, so you have to know where he’s at at all times,” Lester said. “They have a safety who in my opinion is one of the best I’ve seen. Obviously, they’re surrounded by a bunch of really good players, but those two I think are special, and so you have to keep an eye on those two and where they are on the field.”

–Field Level Media

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