Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 59 QUARTERBACKS that's what the extra guys in the room should provide. If you're internally driven, you don't need anybody else to push you. If you need someone else to push you, we've got five guys around you that want your job." Rudock had the job the past two seasons at Iowa. He rang up 4,819 yards passing and 34 touchdowns, connecting on 417 of 691 attempts. The former Hawkeye threw 18 interceptions over the course of two seasons, but only five last year. As a redshirt junior at Iowa, Rudock completed 213 of 345 passes (61.7 percent) for 2,436 yards and 16 touchdowns. But he was pulled in Iowa's 45-28 loss to Tennessee at the TaxSlayer Bowl and listed second on a rare post-bowl depth chart That convinced the pre-med student to look around for a post- graduate season, and he chose Michigan. The Wolverines' brain trust welcomed him like a Sahara sojourner welcomes a water fountain. "That's a huge opportunity for us, and a great opportunity for him — academically, because he wants to become a physician when he graduates," Fisch said of Rudock's arrival. "The programs we can of- fer him at Michigan will really help him, in terms of medical school. "While he's doing that, it's an opportunity for us to have somebody who's played 25 football games in the Big Ten, and won 15 of the 25. He has a 60-percent winning percentage, a 61-percent completion percentage, takes very few sacks and takes great care of the football. "We're excited to bring his maturity level into our program. He does take on the approach of being a pro." Fisch expressed little concern about Rudock blending with new teammates and achieving a harmonious transition. He figures there will be a lot of that going on. "Malzone had to earn the trust of his teammates when he first arrived in January," Fisch pointed out. "Rudock and Zach Gentry have to build the trust of their teammates. They've got to take care of themselves first. "If you go out there and understand the offense, and you know how to communicate in front of your teammates, and you know how to run the huddle and run the line of scrimmage, you'll get immediate respect and that relationship will grow." The bottom line on Rudock, Fisch noted, involves proven ability on the field. "He's had some 300-yard games in his career," Fisch said. "He's consistently around that 230-yard range. He does not turn it over, and Redshirt freshman Wilton Speight, who measures 6-6, 235 pounds, is one of a group of fi ve quarterbacks on the roster who will be competing for playing time at fi rst- and second-string this fall. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL PRESEASON ANALYSIS: QUARTERBACKS Starter ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ The importation of fifth-year senior transfer Jake Rudock can hardly be overestimated. Rudock gives Michigan a two-year Big Ten starter, one who has played in all the toughest conference venues and who protected the football in the way the Wolverines have been lacking. If another quarterback on the roster beats him out, he'll have earned it. Depth ✪ ✪ ✪ The experienced depth went from non-existent to decent with the recent influx of quarterbacks. Junior Shane Morris has started two games and been on the field for several others. While redshirt freshman Wilton Speight and true freshman Alex Malzone haven't, they've both been through spring ball, and rookie Zach Gentry provides extra competition. X-Factor This is all about how quickly and how well Rudock manages to assimilate to Michigan, the football team and the offense. His success may well hold the key to that of the Wol- verines this fall. If he can bridge the gap between last year's Michigan struggles and a longer-term QB of the future, U-M might win earlier than expected. Overall ✪ ✪ ✪ The situation has gone from scary to intriguing on the quarterbacks front, although there are still more questions than answers. Head coach Jim Harbaugh set out to ramp up the competition, and he obviously has done so. Now it's a matter of the cream rising, high enough to win at Utah and beyond. Note: Star rankings are made on a scale of 1-5 stars. QUICK FACTS Position Coach: Jedd Fisch (first season). Returning Starter: Shane Morris (2 career starts). Departing Starter: Devin Gardner (27). Projected New Starter: Jake Rudock. Top Reserve: Wilton Speight. Wait Until 2016: John O'Korn. Newcomers: Zach Gentry, Alex Malzone. Moved In: None. Moved Out: None. Rookie Impact: None. Most Improved Player: Morris. Best Pro Prospect: Gentry. FYI: Rudock ranked second in the Big Ten in completion percentage (61.7 percent), fourth in pass efficiency (133.5), and sixth in passing yards per game (203) and total of- fense (217.7) a year ago … He suffered the fewest interceptions (five) among all Big Ten quarterback who threw at least 250 passes … Rudock was selected to Iowa's "Leadership Group" in his final three seasons of playing for the Hawkeyes … Michigan's quarterbacks as a group now have 45 starts among them, with 43 three of them by quarterbacks yet to pull on a winged helmet (Rudock with 27, transfer John O'Korn with 16) … O'Korn was named the American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year with Houston in 2013, starting 11 games as a true freshman … O'Korn earned third-team Freshman All-America honors from Athlon …Michigan has increased its length considerably at quarterback, adding the 6-6 Gentry, 6-4 O'Korn, 6-3 Rudock and 6-6 Speight to the 6-3 Morris … U- M's new starting quarterback will look to improve on last season's total offense average (333.0 yards per game), which stood last in the Big Ten … Michigan's passing offense was 11th in the league last year, averaging 170.2 yards per game … Its passing efficiency mark was 10th (109.7).

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