ANN ARBOR: The Michigan Stadium crowd was electrified on Saturday by an 18-yard pass to A.J. Barner on a delayed release, as the Wolverines advanced the ball to the Ohio State 22-yard line in a tie game.
Just a few moments later, right guard Zak Zinter was still on the field in the third quarter, taking the vigor out of both the Michigan sideline and the audience. The whole Michigan squad stood around middle, worried about their teammate, while medical personnel inspected the four-year starter and two-year all-Big Ten selection for many minutes.
According to the FOX broadcast, Zinter was wheeled off the field with his left leg in a cast and sent to a hospital. Blake Corum’s 22-yard touchdown run on the following play gave the Wolverines a 24-17 lead.
After Saturday’s 30-24 victory over Michigan to end a second consecutive 12-0 regular season, Corum remarked, “Zak’s my guys.” “He’s another guy that came back for ‘unfinished business.” It ached to watch him go down in the last game. Extremely moving to witness what he was going through on the ground. But after uniting, we realized that we had to act on his behalf. We went up in the very next play.
“I have no doubt that he will return, stronger than before. Among the top guards in the country. Losing a piece like that is difficult, but I have faith in my people. They seem prepared, and I think the next man is prepared to take the reins.
After Zinter’s injury, Michigan’s run game began to click. Up until that point, the team hadn’t shown much strength in their run game.
With 8:05 remaining, Michigan led by three points after starting its final offensive drive at its own 25, excluding J.J. McCarthy’s kneel down to end the contest.
Correct tackle Following Zinter’s injury, senior Trente Jones entered at tackle, while Karsen Barnhart switched to guard.
Regarding the modified offensive line configuration, acting head coach Sherrone Moore remarked, “We’re always talking about the six best guys, the five best guys whoever it is.” “I thought it was the best move to put Trente out there and move Karsen in there at that point in the game, and it worked out well.”
Michigan took seven minutes off the clock before opting for a field goal to make the score six points, even though they might have sealed the victory with a touchdown on the drive. On nine out of the twelve plays, it gained three first downs while running the ball.
With only a minute remaining, OSU (11-1, 8-1) attempted a comeback, but Rod Moore intercepted Kyle McCord at the Michigan 11 with 25 seconds remaining.
Zinter is adored by all members of the team, according to tight end Colston Loveland. “He’s just a really nice guy who puts in a lot of effort and is clearly very skilled at what he does. It grieved us to see a guy like him go down. Many people, some of them crying. It’s unfortunate to learn that he lost that. However, I believe it inspired us to say, “Let’s get this for Zak.” Hopefully, we can now visit him in the hospital or another location and just give him reassurance while keeping them in the dark about our support.
Moore claimed to have received a positive report following the game, but he didn’t seem hopeful that Zinter would return anytime soon.
It was really challenging, according to Moore. “You don’t want to see any of these guys get hurt in any way, especially if you’ve been around the player for four years or just in general.” For a youngster of his caliber, both on and off the field, it was difficult.
However, I just got off the phone with his mother, so perhaps we have some good news. He will eventually recover and be prepared to continue.
While Michigan has mainly escaped serious injuries in 2023, it did sustain two noteworthy ones on Saturday. A lower left leg injury kept sophomore cornerback Will Johnson out of most of the fourth quarter. Johnson spent the majority of the game covering OSU top receiver Marvin Harrison and had a critical interception in the first quarter that led to the Wolverines’ first touchdown. He was observed with his lower leg wrapped on the sidelines.
Mike Sainristil, the slot cornerback, filled in mostly at the outside, and Ja’Den McBurrows started at nickel.
Sherrone Moore stated, “I believe I just had a lower-leg injury.” “I believe he will be fine. However, the boys simply adapted nicely. I mean, use a pick to end the game. Not too bad. I’m quite happy with the defense’s actions and adjustments. Simply excellent team defense.