Michigan Football Preview 2017

2017 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 57 of 179

56 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2017 FOOTBALL PREVIEW "I thought he carried himself like a leader. Now, does that carry over into completions and not throwing picks at inopportune times? Time will tell." He also has a growing relationship with new quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton. The former coach of Andrew Luck at Stanford and with the Indianapolis Colts, Hamilton loves to air it out and should help develop Michigan's deep throwing game, as well as a quick pass- ing attack. Speight entered the Rome trip in a getting- to-know mode with the new Michigan posi- tion coach. "He wants me to be as successful as possi- ble," Speight said. "I want to be as successful as possible. It's all tough love. It's never being mad. One of the things I've noticed with him is it's never too high and it's never too low. "It's even keel. That's one thing I like about it a lot." The U-M quarterback liked it even more during the excursion overseas when oppor- tunities arose to share more than just X's and O's. Part of Speight's goal involved getting to know Hamilton better, and the trip provided the perfect situation. Speight's play gets better in accordance with the offensive line, and the loss of three starters leaves question marks for some, but not so much for the now veteran signal-caller, who witnessed a transformation in the spring. Senior Mason Cole bumped back out to left tackle from his center spot last season. Fifth-year senior Pat Kugler stepped up to man the center spot, allowing Cole to return to the position at which he spent his first two years as a starter. Sophomore Ben Bredeson continued his progress at left guard, allowing Speight to speak confidently about what's ahead. "Mason has been leading the way as the fourth-year guy, a four-year starter," Speight noted. "He's an incredible talent with an in- credible mind. "Pat Kugler, Ben Bredeson and the rest of the guys have been following along, taking his lead and going with it. [Offensive coordi- nator and line coach Tim] Drevno is doing an unbelievable job." Speight insists he's not unnerved, either, Wilton Speight enjoyed a statistically solid initial season starting for Jim Harbaugh, along with the well-documented near-miss finish. It stands to reason Speight should take a strong step forward in year two. There's evidence to back up such an assumption, given Harbaugh's history of guid- ing signal-callers. Here's a look back at pro and college quarterbacks who have been under his tutelage over a two-year span, and the jump they made between year one and year two: Josh Johnson, 2005-2006, San Diego: Johnson wasn't exactly mediocre in his first season of starting for Harbaugh. He earned Offensive Player of the Year honors in the Pioneer Football League, throwing for 3,256 yards and 36 touchdowns, with a 70.1 completion percentage and only eight interceptions. Although his completion percentage dropped slightly the following season (66.3) and he threw 34 TD passes, Johnson accounted for more passing yardage (3,320) and limited his interceptions to five in 2006. He also became an Associated Press All- American and remained the PFL Offensive Player of the Year, this time unanimously. Andrew Luck, 2009-2010, Stanford: Luck also enjoyed strong success as a first- year starter under Harbaugh, earning Freshman All-America honors by a number of outlets as a redshirt frosh. He set a Stanford freshman passing record with 2,575 yards, completing 56.3 percent of his passes, with 13 touchdown tosses against only four interceptions. Luck then grew into the Pac-10's Offensive Player of the Year in 2010, becoming a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and a host of other national awards. He led Stanford to a No. 4 ranking and a school-record 12 wins by throwing for 3,338 yards and 32 touchdowns. His interceptions jumped to eight, but his accuracy climbed to 70.7 percent in Harbaugh's final season with the Cardinal. Alex Smith/Colin Kaepernick, 2011-12, San Francisco 49ers: It gets a little more complicated here, because Smith stood fully in charge in 2011, and the duo split time the following year. But Harbaugh clearly got more out of the position overall in the second season. Smith threw for 3,144 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2011, completing 61.3 percent of his throws and suffering only five interceptions for a 90.7 passer rating. Kaepernick threw for just 35 yards, with a passer rating of 81.3 and no touchdowns or interceptions. The following season, Harbaugh rode the two quarterbacks all the way to the Super Bowl. Smith's numbers for passing yardage (1,737) and touchdowns (13) went down, while his interceptions (five) stayed the same, and his completion percentage (70.2) and passer rating (104.1) shot up. Kaepernick stepped forward to deliver 1,814 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. He posted a completion percentage of 62.4 percent and a passer rating of 98.3. He also rushed for 415 yards and five touchdowns. Combined, the two threw for 3,551 yards and 23 touchdowns, with eight intercep - tions — and a trip to the most highlighted football game of all. It remains to be seen what Speight will accomplish in year two, but there's strong evidence he'll echo with his actions one of Harbaugh's favorite summations: "Onward." — John Borton Andrew Luck made a significant leap in his second year under Harbaugh's tutelage in 2010, passing for 3,338 yards and 32 touchdowns en route to being named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year. PHOTO BY BOB DREBIN/STANFORD ATHLETICS The Book On Jim Harbaugh's Second-Season Quarterbacks

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