The Wolverine

2018 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2018 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 59 QUARTERBACKS FYI John O'Korn's 973 passing yards marked the lowest team-leading total since Michael Taylor's 957 in 1988. His two touchdown throws were the fewest for the team's passing yardage leader since Tom Slade in 1971. Redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffrey's dad, Ed, played 13 seasons in the NFL. Two older brothers are in the league now — Christian is a running back for the Carolina Panthers, while Max is a wideout for the San Francisco 49ers. His younger brother Luke plays at Highlands Ranch (Colo.) Valor Christian, where all three older brothers graduated from, and held a Michigan offer before committing to Nebraska. Redshirt sophomore Brandon Peters was the state of Indiana's Mr. Football in 2015, the same year junior Shea Patterson earned MVP honors at the prestigious Elite 11 quarterback competition in Oregon. McCaffrey was the 2016 Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year. Patterson was ranked as a five-star recruit and the No. 3 overall prospect in his class, while the four-star Peters checked in at No. 158. The four-star McCaffrey was listed No. 131 a year later, while four-star Joe Milton was No. 200 in the class of 2018. Former starter Wilton Speight transferred to UCLA for his fifth year and will be immediately eligible as a graduate transfer. He missed the last nine games with a back injury suffered against Purdue, but told Los Angeles reporters May 26 he'd "never felt this healthy" in his career. Peters is one who could have a say. Now 220 pounds, Peters showed improvement in a number of areas in the 15 practices during March and April. He got through his reads faster and concentrated on getting the ball out quicker, and there were days he was probably the best of the four quarterbacks battling for the position. He said he was better in one area in particu- lar — decision making. "That was a big emphasis, playing faster coming into spring ball. I've gotten really good at that," Peters said. "There's a lot of little stuff as well." And there's still a long way to go. Though he wasn't helped by inconsistent play of a sometimes-porous offensive line — which allowed 36 sacks in 2018, second worst in the Big Ten — Peters only completed 52.8 percent of his passes for 672 yards with four touchdowns last season. He missed half of the Wisconsin game after getting knocked out with a concussion and the entire Ohio State game before struggling in the 26-19 loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, completing only 20 of 44 passes with two interceptions. "There were mistakes on my part, and the whole offense," Peters said. "We didn't ex- ecute the way we should have, but a good takeaway is to learn from our mistakes from that game, and just build from that and learn from it." Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown got McCaffrey's hype train rolling last year when he singled him out as one of the top scout team players he'd seen. The 6-5 signal-caller has continued to ascend and re- ports he's up to 20 pounds from 195 last year. "I'm making a case for him," Brown said last October. "I'm just saying, from our stand- point to get ready, it's nice when you have a scout team that's committed to the defense. "And they don't have to be … but these guys take it serious and get us ready to play on Sat- urdays. He spearheads it." Now, though, McCaffrey is ready to take his game to the next level. He doesn't have Mil- ton's big arm, nor does he have Peters' game experience or his extra year in the program. He does have plenty of leadership and moxie, however, and can make all the throws. McCaffrey said he was also of the understanding the competition remained wide open. "That's what they're telling us," McCaf- frey said. "We all got equal reps in the spring it seemed like, so I think they're going to continue to have us compete into fall camp. It will be tough. It's a battle, for sure. YEAR-BY-YEAR PASSING STATS Year Passing Yards Touchdowns Interceptions 2017 2,226 9 10 2016 2,756 20 7 2015 3,090 21 10 2014 2,042 10 18 2013 3,221 21 13 2012 2,591 20 19 2011 2,377 22 16 2010 3,252 23 15 2009 2,380 15 15 2008 1,718 11 12 Redshirt sophomore Brandon Peters played in six games last year with four starts and completed 52.8 percent of his throws for 672 yards with a team-best four passing touchdowns. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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