In just two plays, the Michigan football team went from its own 34 yard line to notching its first touchdown of the game. The 42-yard completion from sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy to junior receiver Roman Wilson was the punctuation mark to the Wolverines’ foray at the game’s impetus.
“That was really the play of the game by Roman Wilson,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said after Michigan’s 56-10 victory over Hawaii. “Right along with J.J., those two offensively really stood out. Roman got us going early.”
It set the tone for Michigan’s night — one studded with big plays and strong performances everywhere. But under the lights, the receiver room shined one of the brightest.
Wilson indeed served as the opener. The Honolulu native burst past the Rainbow Warriors’ defenders multiple times — including on a 21-yard reverse for a rushing touchdown — for two scores on the day, demonstrating his prowess in front of his hometown team.
“I was happy for him, that’s sick — I think he knew probably almost everybody over there,” graduate receiver Ronnie Bell said. “I feel like he probably had a big ’ol weight on his shoulders going into this game, and to see him play the way he did was really awesome because going against your whole hometown is huge.”
But the production extended beyond Wilson. With deep balls and long gains galore, Michigan touted seven pass plays for 15 yards or more. The Wolverines’ longest completion of the day found senior receiver Cornelius Johnson as the recipient, a 54-yard bomb that set up a touchdown on the ensuing play.
“He’s really picked up right where he left off last season,” Harbaugh said of Johnson. “That was an incredible job he did on the post (route), tracking that ball 50-some yards downfield. He’s developed into a really terrific deep threat and continues to play top block, does all the things that really great receivers do.”
The praise from Harbaugh flew toward his receivers, “anointing” them as “great players” and contributors during Saturday’s game. This is all without mention of Bell, who led Michigan with six catches for 74 yards.
Though a drop and a fumble — recovered by the offense — set him back early, Bell found a way to rally. In typical Bell fashion, he motored through tackles, fighting for every inch he could get in a game that was already well in command.
On a dart in the endzone, Bell corralled the ball through contact for his first touchdown of the season — and his first since returning from last year’s season-ending knee injury. Bell was back, and his impact could be felt beyond his mere production, as he also drew the most targets of all Wolverine receivers with seven.
On a night where nearly everyone on Michigan’s roster seemed to flourish, the receivers stood out, showing the Wolverine faithful what might be in store for the remainder of the season.
“Ronnie had a great game too, all three of those guys were terrific,” Harbaugh said. “Great punt return by (junior receiver A.J. Henning); as advertised, those receivers are doing a heck of a job.”