Michigan Football Preview 2019

Digital Edition

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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60 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2019 FOOTBALL PREVIEW QUARTERBACKS QUARTERBACKS for a net of 31 yards (4.4 average) and a touchdown. Meanwhile, former backup Brandon Peters — who started several games in 2017 after Speight departed with injury and played in four contests last year — opted for a post- spring transfer, and he'll be immediately eligible at Illinois. That opens the door for rookie quarterback Cade McNamara to move into the top four spots in the QB room. McNamara, out of Reno, Nev., set the prep state records for career passing yards (12,804) and touchdowns (146). In his se- nior season, he threw for 2,995 yards and 39 touchdowns after a junior campaign featuring 3,470 yards and 44 TDs through the air. Patterson insisted that Michigan's quar- terbacks room is indeed a healthy one these days, in every respect. Head coach Jim Har- baugh noted his senior field general couldn't just sit back and put his feet up, and Patterson strongly backed that assertion. "It's a talented quarterback room," Pat- terson said. "We all push each other, every single day. The mindset I took was compet- ing with myself, being better than I was yes- terday, not making the same mistake twice, taking notes, being the best quarterback I can for this team." McDaniels assured that Patterson's best is pretty good. He also noted none of his quarterbacks are going to be awestruck over having to operate the finer points of a no- huddle offense. "The nature of football, at this point, is whether you do it a lot or do it a little, most everybody doesn't huddle in some form or fashion, even if it was just in two-minute," McDaniels said. "That operation is not for- eign to most buildings. "Whether you huddle, whether you don't, how fast you go … most everybody has dif- ferent tempos in their building. That part of it, I don't think, is new for our guys." Gattis also insists the offense is taking hold, and it all starts behind center. "Things clicked probably three or four practices in," Gattis said of the spring. "They stopped having to think, and they were able to go out and execute. The game slowed down for them. "At first, it was all completely new. There were a lot of learning moments, a lot of teaching moments." Then recognition began to set in. It's no finished product yet and doesn't need to be. But it's coming, and plenty of former U-M quarterbacks will be watching. ❑ Dylan McCaffrey wants to be Michigan's starting quarterback. Not in 2020, although he'd certainly take it if it comes. Not in 2021. Right now. The redshirt sophomore quarterback feels no compulsion to meekly step aside and accept the coronation of senior signal-caller Shea Patterson in his final season. That's good news for the Wolverines' quarter- back corps. It's not personal. There's no animosity involved. McCaffrey is simply a competitor, bat- tling for a job he knows he can handle at some point, and he'd like that point to arrive as soon as possible. Jim Harbaugh himself acknowledged the ever- present competition, insisting Patterson couldn't "put his feet up" when it came to spring football. McCaffrey went out and played fiercely, after heal- ing from a broken collarbone suffered against Penn State last fall. All that said, McCaffrey assured there's a very together quarterbacks room in Schembechler Hall. "As a whole room, I think we've been pushing each other," McCaffrey said near the end of spring practice. "We've all seen a lot of gain from that, and we've improved. "You compete on the field, but whoever they call at the end, we also want to win football games. Nobody wants to be in a losing program. We'll hop behind each other on that and really root for one another." Michigan's QBs — not to mention the rest of McCaffrey's teammates — were rooting for him to get back following the injury. McCaffrey demonstrated in the very first game of 2018 that he could step in and steer the ship, which he did at Notre Dame when Patterson went out briefly. He responded without any setbacks. "It feels great," he said. "Getting cleared well before spring ball felt awesome. It's good to be finally back out there." McCaffrey desperately wanted to be out there in the spring. It's not just that he loves football and loves competing. With new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis installing his attack, no quarterback wanted to miss time on the practice field. Additionally, McCaffrey senses himself grow- ing in less tangible — but equally important — ways. He's gaining respect among teammates and working toward the command it takes to guide a football team. "I've made a lot of strides, just as a leader," McCaffrey said. " That kind of happens as you get older in this program. You get to know more people. I feel really good along those lines." McCaffrey repeatedly stressed the "new energy" Michigan's offense is feeling from Gattis and the changes that have been made to the U-M attack. "It's just a new dynamic, not getting in the huddle, not seeing all the guys' faces every play," he said. "I don't mind that. We definitely have adjusted well. The first couple practices, it took a little bit to get used to that. "Our offense is definitely in good shape, and we're going to have to be this year. It will show, for sure." It 's not all about the Gattis-implemented changes, either. McCaffrey, like Patterson, became enthusiastic in a hurry about having Ben McDaniels as a quarterback coach. "He's helped a ton," McCaffrey explained. "He also is a guy who brings a lot of energy. Off the field, all of the quarterbacks are in a much better place, men- tally, as far as recognizing defenses, knowing our stuff and where to go with it. We've all gotten way better at that. It's just something he brings to the table." McCaffrey, like most quarterbacks, has no doubt he brings starting-level abil- ity to the table. Most look on and say that will likely have to wait a year. But he's making no concession speeches or actions. — John Borton Dylan McCaffrey Preps For A Crucial Campaign Redshirt sophomore Dylan McCaffrey went 8-of- 15 passing for 126 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing 10 times for 99 yards with another score, before his season ended last year due to a broken collarbone. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL "When you look at all the quarterbacks, it's just the versatility they have, as throwers, runners. They're very smart, they've got quick releases, they can make any throw on the field, they can get the ball out of their hands." OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH GATTIS

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