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Fiesta Bowl Position Battles: Michigan RBs & TEs vs. TCU LBs

The Horned Frog Linebacker crew will look to slow the Wolverines’ dynamic RB Donovan Edwards and TE Luke Schoonmaker

Nebraska v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

This is the 3rd in our series of position battle matchup previews for the Fiesta Bowl College Football Playoff Semifinal, you can read all entries and other preview info HERE

Michigan Running Backs & Tight Ends:

Depth Chart:

RB: Donovan Edwards (SO); CJ Stokes (FR)
TE: Luke Schoonmaker (SR); Joel Honigford (SR)
TE: Colston Loveland (FR); Max Bredeson (R-FR)

The Wolverines were an elite rushing team in 2022: 5th in yards per game, 2nd in TDs;, and did it with incredible efficiency, gaining 5.64 yards per carry, good for 4th in the nation. Of course, most of that was done with Unanimous All-AMerican Blake Corum toting the rock for the Maize & Blue, but he suffered a knee injury late in the season which required surgery and sidelined the star back for the remainder of the year. Michigan was certainly not lacking for RB talent, as 5-Star Sophomore Donovan Edwards was waiting patiently for his opportunity to explode on the scene. And explode he did: Edwards was an absolute monster when given the chance this season, which happened to be in Michigan’s biggest contests: 194 total yards and 2 TDs vs. Penn State, 225 total yards and 2 TDs vs. Ohio State, and 189 total yards and a TD in the Big Ten Championship vs. Purdue. Edwards is dangerous as a receiver as well, with over 11 yards per reception and two receiving touchdowns, a skill set Michigan will surely look to deploy vs. TCU.

The Wolverines often line up in 2 Tight End sets, with Schoonmaker as the greater receiving threat and Loveland as more of an extension of the O-Line, but both are capable in both phases of the game. Schoonmaker’s 386 yards has him 3rd on the team and he accounts for 16% of all Michigan receptions this season, in just 11 games played. Michigan could use him against TCU in the way that Kansas and Kansas State were able to find success vs. the Frogs.

TCU Linebackers:

Depth Chart:

SLB: Dee Winters (SR); Shadrach Banks (SO)
MLB: Jamoi Hodge (JR); Wyatt Harris (SR)
WLB: Johnny Hodges (JR); Zach Marchesseli (JR)

Linebacker was perhaps the position with the most difficult transition into the 3-3-5 defense, taking on more responsibility and new assignments. On top of that big change, it was the position at which the Frogs were most thin going into the season, only to see Marcel Brooks and Thomas Armstrong miss most of the season. Johnny Hodges entered the program as a transfer from Navy and was immediately a critical member of the defense, earning Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and 2nd Team All-Conference honors while leading the team in tackles and starting every game until the Big 12 Championship where his absense due to injury was sorely felt by the Frogs. If Hodges is back at full strength by the Fiesta Bowl, it would be a big boost to TCU. Dee Winters was the returning star from the unit and continued his standout play in 2022, flying all over the field while leading the Frogs in sacks, hurries, and tackles for loss en route to a First Team All-Conference honor. Jamoi Hodge is the lightning and the thunder of the TCU defense, with lateral speed to get to the right spot and incredible power to bury ball carriers. The LBs will be challenged to get through attacking blocks from the Michigan O-Line, bring down the dynamic Donovan Edwards in space, cover Luke Schoonmaker’s routes, and pressure JJ McCarthy.