UA-59049186-1 Michigan Team 137 Preview: Quarterback - Good if it Goes

Michigan Team 137 Preview: Quarterback

Back from last year (You know the drill.)


Projected starter: John O’Korn. It could be Wilton Speight, though. But probably O’Korn. Unless it’s Speight. Likely O’Korn. Maybe Shane Morris. Or Brandon Peters. Alex Malzone outta nowhere? Nah, O’Korn. I think.

Could make an impact: Whoever isn’t the starter

Watch out for next year: See above

Redshirt junior John O’Korn is my guess to be Michigan’s starter in 2016. O’Korn transferred from Houston, where he started as a true freshman and looked pretty promising. Then his offensive coordinator, Doug Meachem, left for TCU and things went south for O’Korn, who would ultimately be benched about midway through his sophomore season. After that, O’Korn packed his bags and headed north. Last year, he had to sit out due to transfer rules. During his redshirt year, the hype train was running full speed. When we got a look at him during the spring game, the train slowed down. Then we heard reports on the position battle ranging from “dead heat” to “Speight’s slightly ahead” and the train slowed down even more. So let me try to get the train moving again, albeit not as quickly as it once was. You could tell so little from the spring game that I didn’t even bother doing a write-up of it. It probably actually is a battle for the starting job because if either guy had a death grip on the position, he probably would have largely been kept out of the game like De’Veon Smith was. Could one be ahead by a good amount but played because Harbaugh wanted to get them some on-field experience? I mean, I guess, but when you’re splitting up the rosters and you had guys out to begin with, the benefits of such experience don’t seem all that great. One thing that was encouraging from the spring game – O’Korn looked very efficient in making his reads and decisions. Couple that with the fact that he’s got the higher ceiling, a very good arm (he’s definitely got a bit of a gunslinger mentality, but showed the ability to make some really great throws in Houston), and decent speed – a trait Harbaugh definitely values in his QBs – and that’s why he’s my pick to start for the Wolverines this year.

Redshirt sophomore Wilton Speight was good enough to get the win against Minnesota last year in his first significant on-field action as a Wolverine. He doesn’t have the arm O’Korn does, nor does he have the speed. However, he also doesn’t have O’Korn’s gunslinger mentality. A case could be made for Speight as the starter; Michigan’s defense should be somewhere between excellent and historically great, so one may want to go with the safer game manager if things are equal or even pretty close. Worth noting: Harbaugh faced a relatively similar choice in San Francisco and the more dynamic athlete ultimately won out.

Redshirt junior Shane Morris came to Michigan with an awfully high ceiling and then nobody bothered to coach him until Jim Harbaugh came to town. Morris redshirted last year and word was that his not coming into the game against Minnesota after Jake Rudock went down had nothing to do with maintaining that redshirt, rather Speight had just moved ahead of him. I wouldn’t entirely rule out the idea that Morris didn’t come in because he’s left-handed and it would have changed the dynamics of the offensive line, which was clearly stronger on the left side, but it’s far, far more likely that Speight really just moved ahead of him on the depth chart. Furthering that idea – Morris played receiver during the spring game. We’re talking about Jim Harbaugh here, the ultimate competitor, so one can never totally rule out there being an ulterior motive to a decision. It’s not completely out of the question that Morris is looking awfully good and Harbaugh didn’t want to show his hand and put a red herring out there, but it really doesn’t seem likely. Morris is probably third on the depth chart by a decent bit.

Freshman Brandon Peters has the potential to be Andrew Luck 2.0. He possesses similar size and athleticism to Luck. Will he eventually become the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft? Dunno. That’s an awfully tall order, though his ceiling is insanely high. His pocket presence and decision making are impressive enough for me to give him an outside shot at the starting job, even as a true freshman. Will he actually win it? Probably not. Expect a redshirt before becoming a more serious competitor for the job a year from now.

Redshirt freshman Alex Malzone seemed like a bit of an afterthought during this year’s spring game after starting last year’s for the Maize team. He looked very much like a freshman in last year’s game and didn’t appear to be much more ready to be a factor this year. He’s plenty accurate, though his arm strength leaves a lot to be desired.

Bottom line: regardless of who ends up as Michigan’s starting QB, the team should be fine. Remember, Michigan has the best QB coach in the country coaching their QBs. We’re talking about a Dude who took Jake Rudock from “guy whom Iowa deemed so expendable that they didn’t really put up a fight when he transferred within the conference to a team that had just yoinked a RB commit from them” to “NFL Draft pick.” I know CJ Beathard ended up having a really good year for the Hawkeyes, but even so, if you think Rudock’s got the potential to end up as an NFL Draft pick, I doubt you’re going to let him end up elsewhere in the conference, especially after the aforementioned yoinking, without much of a fight, even if he’s going to be in the other division. As long as Jim Harbaugh is around (and sorry to burst your bubble, NFL guys, that should be quite a long time. Oakland is, in fact, not in play.) I doubt we’re going to have to worry much about the QB position, a very welcome change from the last regime. All hail Harbaugh.

Twitter: @KSchroeder_312


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