Michigan Football's Quarterback Position Appears To Be Open
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said after Saturday's beatdown by Wisconsin that all positions and all areas of his program would be evaluated. It appears that includes the quarterbacks.
Redshirt sophomore Joe Milton struggled to a 9-of-19, 94-yard passing performance against the Badgers, including interceptions on his first two drives. The second, when he threw it right to a Wisconsin linebacker, was a backbreaker, leading to a touchdown that opened the floodgates.
"That’s something we really have to look at," Harbaugh said. "Did Joe understand the keys where he was looking? He threw a ball right to another guy … I think the first one he was rolling out, out of the pocket, thought he threw a good ball. It was a contested catch but should have been made [by senior tight end Nick Eubanks]. The ball got tipped up and they were very opportunistic and made the interception.
"The second one, he threw it right to him. He didn’t have a lane, didn’t have the throw and made the throw anyway and it got intercepted."
Redshirt freshman Cade McNamara entered in the third quarter with U-M down 35-3 and led the offense down the field in four plays with some beautiful throws. He capped it with a 23-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Mike Sainristil, and then threw a perfect fade for a two-point conversion that got the sideline (finally) buzzing.
Harbaugh shared Monday that both of his quarterbacks would get ample opportunity to prove themselves this week.
"We'll open it up. There will be competition," he said. "Both will see action with the ones throughout the week."
He wouldn't go into details when asked what his approach would be with Milton.
"Just coaching both of them. Those are things you do," he said. "You coach with your players. It's something that's, in all honesty, not for public consumption. I hope you understand that part of the player/coach relationship."
Michigan's explosive plays have actually been up this year, though not many of them have involved hitting a receiver in stride on the fly. There were some nice deep balls from both Milton (a third-down pass to sophomore Giles Jackson) and McNamara Saturday, but the game was no longer in doubt when the Wolverines started connecting.
"There are quite a few stats you could point to, especially the last game where we weren't successful," Harbaugh said when asked about the absence of downfield passing plays. "But as I said, going forward, it's a new week. We're striving to be 1-0 ... getting momentum, recognizing when you lose it to get it back as soon as possible and holding it as long as you can."
He stopped short of saying his team came out flat and any further criticism, noting he said his piece immediately after the game.
"You go forward and you assess what things to address, maybe what to add, what to really start back to basics ... all those different ways, so it's not when — it's what and where," he said. "So those are things we've been doing, in all areas.
"Offense and defense and our special teams are performing well. We'll build on the positives of each of those units. There's extremely good play by individuals at times, and we'll build on those things and believe in ourselves that we'll find a way."
More Michigan Football Notes
• Harbaugh refused to give injury updates on senior defensive end Kwity Paye (groin), and starting redshirt sophomore tackles Ryan Hayes and Jalen Mayfield.
"There are guys that they came to Michigan because they wanted to play. Some are playing earlier than they thought they would, and there's been some good play," he said. "Those are some of the areas I was talking about to build upon."
• The press has been on him, but Harbaugh said he has learned to tune out criticism and hasn't paid attention to the rumblings.
"Me personally, I can't remember when it was when I gained humility. So long ago that I can't remember, and the players themselves, some may be the first time going through that in their lives, but I doubt there's many," he said. "Everybody has had obstacles, overcome challenges.
"There are ... guys who are 18, 19, 20, 21 years old. Everybody has gone through challenges and obstacles in this time in their lives. [We'll] remind them."
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