Perfect 2-0 Start
The college football season is just a few weeks old and the Michigan Wolverines are right where they wanted to be. With victories over Florida (33-17) and Cincinnati (36-14), Michigan is a perfect 2-0 heading into a week three matchup at the Big House against Air Force. Following that, they begin the Big Ten portion of their schedule on September 23rd at Purdue.
In week one, it was the defense that came up big for the Wolverines holding the Gators to a total of 192 yards for the game with just 11 of those rushing the football. The defense also sealed the victory with an end-zone sack that resulted in a fumble and a Michigan touchdown as the 4th quarter was winding down.
But the win was not without concern for Wolverine fans. Quarterback Wilton Speight threw two interceptions that resulted in touchdowns on consecutive passes that put the team down early. For the game, Speight completed just 11 of 23 passes for 181 yards and one touchdown, a 46 yarder to Tarik Black. Speight is in his second season as the starter and with his Head Coach Jim Harbaugh being known as a quarterback guru, more is expected of the redshirt Junior.
But this team is still young with very few returning starters from last season. In fact, most experts believe that next year is when Harbaugh will field a team capable of making a run at a National Championship. But don’t tell that to some of the quality young players who are getting a chance to see the field this year.
Players such as Sophomore lineman Rashan Gary, Freshman wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black and Sophomore linebacker Devin Bush are getting valuable playing time and will be much better as the season progresses.
In their second game, Harbaugh saw some of the growing pains with his young group. Against Cincinnati, the Wolverines fumbled the ball three times, had two turnovers and were called for seven penalties. It was clear that the team experienced some mental lapses that kept the Bearcats in the game longer than they should have been.
At quarterback, Speight had problems throwing the football again. There were several inaccurate throws to open receivers, even without pressure in his face. He also doesn’t seem comfortable going through his progressions when his first option is covered.
Harbaugh is preaching patience at this point in the season. Mistakes will be made by his young players due to their inexperience. He is confident that with more game experience there will be a few less mental errors as they get comfortable with everything going on around them.
After all, for the freshman, this was not only their first week at school on a huge new campus, but their first time playing at the Big House in front of over 100,000 fans.
The bottom line is that they won the game, and get one more tune-up before the Big Ten schedule starts. Harbaugh and his staff will continue to coach them up, as well as spend some time with Speight to correct issues with his footwork that may be causing his accuracy problems.
The road won’t be easy since the Big Ten has three other teams ranked in the Top Ten and Michigan will face them all. Games on the road against Penn State and Wisconsin are on the schedule as well as the home finale on November 25th against Ohio State.