Michigan's Blake Corum gets cracking as part of 'thunder and lightning' duo

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Michigan sophomore running back Blake Corum, getting his first experience playing before fans in Michigan Stadium, said he fed off the energy from the crowd.

Corum finished with 111 rushing yards on 14 carries and had a touchdown, he had two catches for 22 yards and a score and added a 79-yard kickoff return in Michigan’s 47-14 victory over Western Michigan on Saturday before 109,295 at Michigan Stadium in the season opener for both. He led the team with 212 all-purpose yards.

He and Hassan Haskins are the team’s top backs, and Haskins added 70 yards on 13 carries. The Wolverines accumulated 551 total yards — the most since they faced Maryland in 2016 — and that included 335 yards of rushing.

Michigan running back Blake Corum dives into the end zone for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

“Hassan is a strong dude, it’s hard to tackle him, so he might run through you,” Corum said after the game. “I’m more of a finesse guy, so I might make you fall. With the one-two punch that can make people miss at the second level, it’s hard to stop that.

“It’s kind of like thunder and lightning.”

Quarterback Cade McNamara was 9 of 11 for 136 yards and two touchdowns.

“Whatever the game plan sees fit will determine our run-to-pass ratio,” McNamara said. “I thought the calling today was fine. It was perfect. We got the job done and if we’re running the ball a little bit more, I don’t mind that. Makes my job a little easier.”

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Freshman Donovan Edwards, the former West Bloomfield High standout, made his debut in the second half and had 27 yards on six carries and caught a pass for three yards.

“You saw Donovan, he did his thing,” Corum said. “I can’t wait to see what he does in the next couple games and the next couple years, but I think Hassan and I are a good one-two punch.”

Michigan opened the game with a 75-yard, 11-play drive that included eight runs. Corum had an 18-yard rush in the series and scored five plays later on a 14-yard pass from McNamara. Michigan’s defensive players took note of the offense’s quick start, something that was lacking on a consistent basis during the 2-4 season last year.

“Going out there on the opening drive and scoring, that’s really good for our offense,” outside linebacker Aidan Hutchinson said. “That’s something we really put an emphasis on this offseason with the offense is when we get the ball, get a hot start. We’ve got to start rolling. They really did a good job.”

Cornerback Vincent Gray said the defensive players gained momentum from the offense against Western Michigan. Although the defense gave up a touchdown, in large part because of an unsportsmanlike penalty on a third-down play,on Western's first possession, from there it kept the Broncos scoreless until 3:30 remained in the game.

“Seeing them make big plays makes us want to make big plays,” Gray said. “We don’t want to let them down like they don’t want to let us down. seeing them ball, only makes us want to ball even more.”

Offensive line shift

Zak Zinter, described by the coaches as the team’s best offensive lineman, did not start against Western Michigan and had a large cast on his right hand. He did get in on some plays during the game, occasionally at right guard.

Chuck Filiaga, who competed with Trevor Keegan throughout camp at left guard, started on the right side instead of Zinter.

“I thought Chuck did tremendous,” Harbaugh said. “Nobody’s done more than Chuck this offseason, his preparation, the kind of training camp he had has really been A-plus. I thought the offensive line played really good together. Zinter was able to play today and be a factor in the game. I think each week (he will play) more and more."

McCarthy makes debut

J.J. McCarthy, who became the first Michigan freshman quarterback to make his debut in the season opener since Devin Gardner on Sept. 4, 2010, gave Michigan its final points when he connected with Daylen Baldwin on a 69-yard touchdown pass.

McCarthy showed off his athleticism, scrambling right, then throwing across the field to Baldwin.

“Running to your right, throwing back to your left, he’s got that in him. he’s got that creativity in him,” Harbaugh said. “I’m not going to coach that out of him. He’s come a long way, going through his reads in a short time, and I thought he was cool in the pocket. You saw him step up in the pocket, got a couple completions. Any experience he gets is going to be good, right? That’s the thought process.”

achengelis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @chengelis