The Wolverine

September 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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52 THE WOLVERINE SEPTEMBER 2017 Setbacks down the stretch last year at Iowa and Ohio State, along with the Orange Bowl defeat to Florida State — all of which were lost at the very end — have motivated his team in the off- season, head coach Jim Harbaugh said. "It leads us to coach better, play bet- ter, train harder," he said. "Put more of our heart into it." Especially at quarterback, where the competition is real, Harbaugh insisted. Redshirt junior Wilton Speight was in a three-way tie for the starting job heading into the fall. "Wilton is in a good spot," Har- baugh said. "He comes in really tied for first with [fifth-year senior] John O'Korn and [redshirt freshman] Bran- don Peters. Literally through compe- tition and out of spring through 15 practices, it's a dead heat. They all did some good things. "Brandon really shot up, and John O'Korn played consistently good, Wil- ton had some impressive moments as well. We'll go through camp, throw balls out and let them compete." Those who worked hardest in the summer will likely rise to the top, he added. "It's like a kicker … there's a lot a quarterback can do in the summer … you can throw into a net, work on their drops," he said. "You don't need other players to be out there to improve some part of their skill game. "We'll see what's transpired over the summer and see who has gotten bet- ter. We'll see who gives our team the best chance to score touchdowns, put points on the board. It will probably take about eight to 15 practices to fig- ure that out. Historically, that's what it usually takes." Offensive coordinator Tim Drevno met with the media Aug. 3 to provide an update, and it was what most ex- pected. "It's been a very good competition," Drevno said. "Three days of practices have been completed and it's been re- ally good — they've thrown the ball well, they've led well and they've been focused in meetings, so they're really off to a good start." The Wolverines will have five schol- arship quarterbacks on the roster this fall — the incumbent Speight, O'Korn, Peters, redshirt sophomore Alex Mal- zone and freshman Dylan McCaffrey — but most believe it's a two-man bat- tle between Speight and Peters. Drevno revealed he could poten- tially be open to playing multiple quar- terbacks. "We could do that — at times there are different packages and things," he said. "Going into a football game, you're always looking for the best way to attack a defense, and if it's some- thing that presents a problem for the team we're playing, then it could be an option. "I don't know yet, though, because it's still early in camp and we're still putting this thing together and piec- ing the offensive concepts together, so we'll see as we go." Speight threw for 2,538 yards and 18 touchdowns last year, but Drevno reit- erated Harbaugh's comments that it's a true competition. The redshirt junior got the majority of the first-team snaps in the early going of camp, according to sources close to it, but everyone was getting a shot. "We just kind of rotate through," Drevno said. "We go through practice and say, 'We're going to put this guy in for these four plays,' and it's equally divided — there's no favoritism. We roll the balls out and see who the best guys are." Drevno was straightforward when asked what the deciding factor would be when it came time to name a starter. "It will be whoever we feel gives us the best chance to win football games," he said. DON BROWN IS SEEKING LEADERS — AND FINDING THEM Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown insists football teams can solve a lot of problems through aggression. Some of his defense's potential prob- lems can disappear via aggressive leadership, he contends. On Aug. 3, Brown met with the me- dia regarding Michigan's early efforts in fall camp. He doesn't get caught up in who isn't around anymore, know- ing that the players who are in camp certainly show considerable skill. He's watching it develop, and help- ing it do so. What he can't force in- volves veterans taking charge, and that's what he wants to see. Brown caught some glimpses of pre- cisely that in the early portion of camp. "Who is providing the leadership?" Brown asked. "That's what we're building right now. I'd be nervous if I saw this [going into a mock cringe] … oooh, nobody. I think that [leadership development is] starting to happen." He mentioned fifth-year senior de-   MICHIGAN FOOTBALL Quarterback Competition Is Heating Up Redshirt freshman Brandon Peters (pic- tured) could make a push for playing time at quarterback with a strong effort in August practices, but redshirt junior Wilton Speight is still considered to be the main man under center. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN 2017 MICHIGAN FOOTBALL SCHEDULE Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Sept. 2 vs. Florida* 3:30 pm/ABC Sept. 9 Cincinnati Noon/ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 Sept. 16 Air Force Noon/BTN Sep. 23 at Purdue 3:30 or 4 pm/TBA Oct. 7 Michigan State TBA/TBA Oct. 14 at Indiana Noon/TBA Oct. 21 at Penn State TBA/TBA Oct. 28 Rutgers Noon/TBA Nov. 4 Minnesota TBA/TBA Nov. 11 at Maryland TBA/TBA Nov. 18 at Wisconsin TBA/TBA Nov. 25 Ohio State Noon/FOX Dec. 2 Big Ten Championship^ 8 pm/FOX * at Arlington, Texas; ^ at Indianapolis

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