The Wolverine

April 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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30 THE WOLVERINE APRIL 2020 BY JOHN BORTON A second year in a new offense figures to automatically be- come better, by virtue of knowledge gained. Such a projection takes a hit when a football team swaps out quarterbacks and 80 percent of its starting offensive line. Not so fast, argues Michigan All- American and two-time captain Jon Jansen. This plugged-in U-M ob- server recognizes the mandatory growth required, but isn't looking for a major step back. "We're going to have a lot of talent, whether at the quarterback position or offensive line," Jansen assured. "It's going to be somewhat inexpe- rienced, just because we're replacing the guys that have the starter mon- iker. But I think we're going to be more talented than we've been in a long time, at both of those positions." Gone is two-year starting quarter- back and 2019 MVP Shea Patterson, along with All-Big Ten performers Jon Runyan Jr., Ben Bredeson, Cesar Ruiz and Michael Onwenu up front. A host of hungry Wolverines look to step forcefully into those roles. Many see a two-man battle shaping up at quarterback between redshirt junior Dylan McCaffrey and redshirt sophomore Joe Milton. Jansen's vi- sion expands that notion by a third. "I'll start by saying, I think it's a battle of three," he offered. "[Red- shirt freshman] Cade McNamara is right in there as well. He did a lot last year, growing up and understanding the offense and being patient. I legiti- mately think it's a three-man race." McNamara threw for nearly 13,000 yards and 146 touchdowns as a prep performer, but he's two years behind McCaffrey at Michigan. The latter has been on the field in 13 games spread over the past two years, impressing with his arm, his legs — and his head. "His football IQ is as good as you're going to find," Jansen said of McCaf- frey. "I like that he knows where to go with the football. He's comfortable out there. When we saw him in games, he was ready. He was prepared. "You never really saw any drop- off from the starter to him. At times, you didn't even know that there was a change. The offense operated the same way. I like him, I like his arm strength, I like his ability to run. I would like him to slide more and not take as many hits. For him, it's just a matter of staying healthy." Milton poses a healthy challenge in that he can throw the ball out of the stadium. He's learning to throw it to, rather than through, his receivers. "Joe is one of the best athletes on the team," Jansen offered. "He's got a strong arm. We saw it last year, espe- cially in that Rutgers game. The touch- down pass that he threw to [then-fresh- man wideout] Giles Jackson, I thought he really showed improvement in put- ting a little touch on the ball. "Young guys come in here and they think they've got to just fire the ball around all the time. He has that arm strength, but you've got to be able to throw a catchable ball. He's done a lot to improve that." Again, Jansen noted, don't count out McNamara. "Cade McNamara is the wild card," he said. "He's a little bit of both guys. He's got a little bit of con- fidence, throws a really nice ball. Now, it's a matter of all three guys getting reps in this offense, and de- veloping that leadership quality that a quarterback has to have. "I like that it's the second year of the YEAR TWO OF 'SPEED IN SPACE' The Michigan Offense Features New Parts, Familiar Design 2020 FOOTBALL ANALYSIS. In his first year at the helm of the Michigan offense, coordinator Josh Gattis helped the Wolverines average 401.5 yards and 31.7 points per game. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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