Michigan Football Preview 2017

2017 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 58 of 179

THE WOLVERINE 2017 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 57 by the departures of fifth-year senior wide- outs Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, along with tight end Jake Butt, who together ac- counted for 403 catches, 5,347 yards and 37 touchdowns over the course of their careers. I n a c o n t i n u e d "What, Me Worry" mode, Speight points to sophomore receiv- ers Kekoa Crawford and Eddie McDoom to pick up the slack. He goes down the list of other veteran wide- outs and insists that the beat goes on. "K-Ko and Eddie have proven they're not just fly sweep and reverse guys, like they kind of were last year," Speight said. "They've been making unbelievable catches down the field, showing they're do-it-all types of guys. "We'll spread the wealth. I did that a little bit last year and have no problem with doing it this year. You don't need a Calvin Johnson to become successful. You just need a bunch of dudes that make good plays, and that's what we've got." Speight fully intends to be one of those dudes. He saw plenty in a year of starting, and tucked it all away for future reference. Jake Rudock has been there and under- stands. The second-year Detroit Lion knows Speight will have a much better grasp on everything — including the Big Ten opposi- tion — the second time around. "It's learning how the week goes," Rudock reflected. "As a backup, you prepare like you're the starter, but it's definitely different when you're the guy. There is going to be some familiarity, going week to week. "I played Northwestern every year, Min- nesota every year. You're fortunate when the coaches are the same, because that helps you understand — 'I know what they do here; they like to do this.' That's one of the biggest things, going from one year of familiarity in the Big Ten to the next year. "You understand it's a grind every week, and it's a really tough season." Rudock knows he'd also have functioned better with another year under Harbaugh, in terms of being accustomed to what he wants. "You get a better sense of how your co- ordinator is going to call plays, or what he's thinking on a third-and-eight, depending on your field position and the situation of the game," Rudock said. "That's the thing with Coach Harbaugh — he's going to make those big, situational calls. That's the head coach's job. "Coach Harbaugh is a very energetic, very exciting guy, and Wilt's definitely a little more energetic on the field. I know that just from watching him. "Having been with him for a year and talking to him now — he's more openly pas- sionate on the field. They can feed off that. "Sometimes you need to understand when Coach is getting really amped up or getting after the officials that you need to keep your team calm. There's definitely a little bit of give-and-take between the quarterback and head coach." Rudock saw Speight grow as the 2016 season went on, improving and understand- ing what needed to be done. That said, the Wolverines came up a play shy against Iowa and Ohio State on the road late in the season. The former Michigan quarterback knows the present one will be more ready for those types of situations in the campaign to come. "Any time there is a close game, it comes down to a couple of plays here and there," Rudock said. "Some- times it's a play that happens in the second quarter or at the end of a half. "You've just got to keep playing and get on the right end of something. When it comes down to road environments, where it's difficult and your team is going to be more amped, you've got to keep them focused on what they need to do." Speight knows what he needs to do. He understands how fast the buzz can turn around, and that begins with strafing Florida Sept. 2. ❏ During U-M's spring trip to Italy, Speight (No. 3) demonstrated the type of leadership head coach Jim Harbaugh desires in his quarterbacks. PHOTO COURTESY WILTON SPEIGHT "I thought he carried himself like a leader [during U-M's trip to Italy]. Now, does that carry over into completions and not throwing picks at inopportune times? Time will tell." ANGELIQUE CHENGELIS OF THE DETROIT NEWS ON SPEIGHT

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