The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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86 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY JOHN BORTON I f anyone knows what good quarterback play should resemble, it's Doug Nussmeier. He's lived it, and coached it, for more than two decades. Michigan's new quarterbacks boss threw for 10,824 yards at the University of Idaho. He coached Michigan State's Drew Stanton to a school-record 3,415 yards passing in 2005. He guided St. Louis Rams quarterback Marc Bulger to a Pro Bowl season in 2006, when Bulger carved up the NFL for 4,301 yards passing, 24 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. The past two seasons, Nussmeier took charge of Alabama's A.J. McCarron, who racked up 9,019 passing yards, a 66.9 percent completion rate, 77 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions over the course of four years. A national championship arrived in 2012, with the Crimson Tide leading the nation in pass efficiency. Nussmeier carries no miracle worker credentials with him, and acknowledges some undeniable challenges: the overall youth of Michigan's roster, the significant struggles of the 2013 offensive line, and the newness of his system to Michigan's quarterbacks. None of that has him cowering in a cubicle inside Schembechler Hall. "I think we'll surprise some people," he offered, leaving it at that. It's not as if Nussmeier inherited six converted tight ends and a walk-on to be named later. He sees a fifth-year performer in Devin Gardner, who threw for 2,960 yards and 21 touchdowns last year, while completing 60.3 percent of his passes and rushing for 483 yards and 11 more scores. Nussmeier has at his disposal more depth at quarterback than the Wolverines have seen in years, with sophomore Shane Morris wait- ing in the wings, along with redshirt junior Russell Bellomy and true freshman Wilton Speight. Morris tore off the redshirt as a freshman last season, completing 61.7 percent of his throws and stepping in during the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl after Gardner fell to injury against Ohio State. While those facts give Nussmeier reason to hint at coming attrac- tions, he's the last to begin boasting about what the Wolverines are going to do. Nothing is good enough for him, U-M quarterbacks have attested over and over, following their winter-spring encounters with the new boss. Some aspects of their recent history certainly aren't good enough, such as 36 sacks in 2013, along with 13 interceptions — 11 by Gard- ner, eight of which occurred in non-conference play. Guaranteed, a 1-5 record from November on won't fly. Nussmeier appreciates how hard all of Michigan's quarterbacks worked in the spring to pick up the new offense. At the same time, he made it clear to them the team's success could hinge on what they accomplish in the months to follow. Improvement DemanDeD Doug Nussmeier Is Insisting U-M's Quarterbacks Step It Up QB Fifth-year senior Devin Gardner has completed 301 of 504 passing attempts for 4,440 yards, with 34 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, and rushed for 658 yards and 20 scores in his U-M career. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN 86-90.QBs.indd 86 6/19/14 8:51 AM

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