One of the biggest storylines this week has been the refusal for both Florida and Michigan to name their starting quarterbacks for this weekends matchup.
It was announced on Wednesday that Feleipe Franks would be Florida’s signal caller.
Florida has chosen to go with youth and talent over the experience of both Luke Del Rio and Malik Zaire. Del Rio played very well as the starter last season before an injury ended his season. When Zaire announced his transfer to Florida, everyone thought he was the front runner with his play making ability and leadership. However, head coach Jim McElwain cited Franks’s ability, improved leadership and moxie over the year to win him this job.
This leads us to wonder about the Michigan job.
Michigan has yet to name a starter and I don’t expect we will find out until Saturday. The presumed front runner is the incumbent starter Wilton Speight. He led the Wolverines to a very solid season and was likely one victory away from the College Football Playoff.
He completed 61% of his passes while throwing for 2,538 yards and having a TD/INT ratio of 2.57. Those are very respectable stats, especially when going up against the defenses of the Big Ten.
However, his last three games were all losses and he averaged 33 attempts per game but only averaged 162 yards while throwing for four INT’s over that time. I know he was playing hurt but I believe that if you play while hurt, your ability won’t be hindered too much. I don’t think Speight will win you any big games, his style is one that will just not lose you games. Speight played behind a very solid O-Line who allowed only 1.7 sacks a game, had the best defense in College Football, and had weapons like Jake Butt and Amara Darboh at his disposal.
Yet, Speight couldn’t deliver a trip to the CFB Playoff or a conference championship.
I believe Speight will be the starter come Saturday and rightfully so. He knows the offense, has a great arm, and made some great plays last year. But I’m not so sure that he is best option for Michigan at this point.
Enter John O’Korn and Brandon Peters. These two are the chasers behind Speight for the quarterback position.
O’Korn, a transfer from Houston after his sophomore year and a backup at U of M, has played in eight games for the Wolverines and has thrown 34 passes. O’Korn shined his freshman year at Houston but struggled his second year and lost his starting position. If O’Korn could return to his 2013 form, he would be in line to be the starter this year but he may be too far removed from them to ever reach that potential again.
Brandon Peters is a redshirt freshman who was the 5th ranked QB in the class of 2016 and drew comparisons to Andrew Luck by his coach Jim Harbaugh. He looks very natural on the field and plays with great instincts.
I know in the last weeks Harbaugh has named Speight and O’Korn the front runners which would make it seem that Peters has been designated for a third string role. I think that Peters deserves a shot.
In Michigan’s Spring Game, Peters displayed his natural talent and outplayed Speight while showing accuracy and poise, especially on the deep ball. I think that Peters is by far the most talented quarterback on that roster. Another reason is that Michigan doesn’t have the same defense or weapons as they do last year.
I believe that it’s close but it’s not the same. It’s not quite a defense you can fall upon to win you every game. They need someone under center who can win you games.
Quarterback guru and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said, “I just think he has the talent and the intangibles you want in a winning QB”.
It’s clear that Peters has the potential to be the starting quarterback for the Wolverines and I think he deserves a shot. I won’t be surprised if we see multiple QB’s in the game Saturday and over the year no matter who starts out as QB1.
Peters gives them a more explosive offense while Speight would lead a more efficient offense. I think Peters gives them the best shot to have the dynamic offense both this year and beyond that they desperately need to be National Championship contenders.
Speight showed that even with a top a defense, he couldn’t lead the Wolverines to the playoffs. He definitely has the ability but he has yet to show it. I think it could be time for Harbaugh to hand over the reigns to Peters and see what he has in the star freshman.
I’m not so sure a Speight led Wolverines make the Playoffs this year so starting Peters at some point might beneficial for the Wolverine’s quest for their first College Football Playoff appearance.
Cover Photo via MLive