Michigan's Joe Milton Pleased But Not Satisfied With 'Good' First Start
Michigan Wolverines redshirt sophomore quarterback Joe Milton had a smooth first start in the win over Minnesota, going 15-for-22 passing for 225 yards and one touchdown, while also rushing eight times for 52 yards and a score. He was pleased with his performance, but also indicated that there's room for improvement in plenty of areas.
"The first start was great. It can be better, so I wouldn’t say great," Milton said on the In The Trenches podcast with host and former U-M All-American offensive lineman Jon Jansen. "It was good. I felt comfortable playing within the game, doing my assignments within the game. I felt good.
"There’s always room to improve at being a leader. One thing that I can do better is be a leader by one more percent. I think that’s the biggest thing."
Many thought of redshirt junior Dylan McCaffrey as the favorite to win the starting signal-caller duties heading into the 2020 campaign, but Milton was able to make enough improvements to overtake the No. 1 spot on the depth chart. He said he "really doesn't know" when he knew he had moved up into the pole position, but he credits his hard work for getting there.
"I just attacked every day like I was the starter, and eventually they were going to see me grow," Milton said. "They were seeing me growing. So I just attacked every day as if I was the starter, and it turned out good."
The Pahokee, Fla., native said the extra time before the season began was crucial in building a strong chemistry and connection within the offense, which helped them put up prolific numbers in the opener, including 49 points and 481 total yards.
"When they gave us the news about the season being canceled, I looked at it as that’s God's time; maybe I need to work on something more," Milton said. "Maybe I need to see this better. Maybe I need to understand the offense just a little bit more before I actually take the big stage.
"So when they canceled the season, I looked at it as a plus for me, because maybe I could do something better. Maybe I could help the offense in a different way. It was a great time for me and the offense to understand everything that was going on, and to also get a better connection with my receivers and offensive line."
Milton was "as cool as a cucumber," head coach Jim Harbaugh said after his first start in the Maize and Blue.
"The game has slowed down for me, personally," Milton said. "I see a lot of things happening before they happen. I give those thanks to my coaches. They’ve prepared me well enough to understand what’s going on.
"Trust my guys — that’s probably the biggest thing that I did [against Minnesota]. Coming out of high school, it was hard for me to stay in the pocket and deliver throws, trust in the offensive line.
"I think the biggest thing I did was trust my guys up front — they worked their ass off all summer long and all quarantine. They did whatever they had to do to make themselves great and help the team, and I felt like that’s the only thing I needed to do for them to prove themselves to the world, is just stay in the pocket."
Milton and Co. are looking to build off of the momentum they picked up in Minneapolis last week, knowing they can't overlook rival Michigan State this week before two tough games against Indiana and Wisconsin.
"[The rivalry against MSU] means a lot to the program and to me, but my biggest thing is, they’re another team that puts on pants and puts on shoulder pads just like us," Milton said. "They’re on the schedule, so they gotta get handled the right way, and we just gotta come out as a team and execute plays and do what we need to do."
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