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

TCU’s Kendre Miller & Jared Wiley will look to find space to work against Michigan’s Junior Colson & Michael Barrett

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 03 Big 12 Championship - TCU vs Kansas State Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This is the 4th 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 Linebackers

Depth Chart:

LB: Junior Colson (SO); Jimmy Rolder (FR)
LB: Michael Barrett (SR); Kalel Mullings (R-SO)

Watch out for Linebackers with jersey numbers in the twenties. #25 Junior Colson earned 2nd Team All-Big Ten honors as his 95 tackles were by far the most for the Wolverines in 2022. He had four double-digit tackle games including a season-high 15 stops in the Big Ten Championship vs. Purdue. Colson also spent time at receiver and kick returner in high school, and has the speed to get to any spot he wants on the field. Colson has 28 more tackles than 2nd place #23 Michael Barrett, but Barrett has been more disruptive, with 3.5 sacks and 2 interceptions including one returned for a TD. Barrett is a 5th-year Graduate Senior and has played in 38 games for the Wolverines with a greatly increased role in 2022, having almost as many tackles this season than the previous four combined. The LBs are also strong in coverage, which may leave few opportunities over the middle and making sure tackles in space.

TCU Running Backs & Tight Ends:

Depth Chart:

RB: Kendre Miller (JR); Emari Demercado (SR); Trent Battle (R-FR); Emani Bailey (JR)
TE: Jared Wiley (SR); Carter Ware (SR)

Kendre Miller somehow continues to fly under the radar despite having an outstanding season, often being overshadowed in his own conference. While Miller may not sell as much mustard as other Big 12 backs, he has been the perfect ingredient for the Horned Frog offense. Given the reins as the lead back in 2022 Miller has taken full advantage of the opportunity, rushing for 1,342 yards, at a highly efficient 6.2 yards per carry, reaching the endzone in every game this season for 17 total TDs. He is a combination of speed, power, and agility with the ability to run by you, through you, and make you miss. The backfield is deep behind Miller, with Demercado’s deep experience contributing greatly in pass protection and in relief with 541 total yards and 6 TDs on the season. Battle & Bailey also each have skills to contribute, especially as receivers out of the backfield. Miller and crew will present a challenge to a Wolverine defense that did allow big yardage to top-flight backfields, such as Illinois’ Chase Brown going for 140 yards and 2 TDs.

At Tight End, Jared Wiley transferred to Fort Worth from the Texas Longhorns and became a key cog of the offense after the position was rarely used by the Horned Frogs previously. He delivered some of the biggest moments of the season for TCU, scoring TDs in the big comebacks against Kansas State & Oklahoma State and securing the 2-point conversion that sent the Big 12 Championship to overtime. He is a threat over the middle or to leak out on delayed routes, but may have a tough time against the coverage skills of the Wolverine Linebackers, Nickelbacks, and Safeties.