The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 89 QB center. He does have plenty to learn, Nussmeier cautioned … but he can learn. "There's no doubt he can compete," the quarterbacks coach as- sured. "He's got as live an arm as I've been around. Because he played in the bowl game, a lot of people lost track of it — he's a true freshman, who did not redshirt. "His learning curve is a lot steeper, just because he does not have the amount of repetitions. He doesn't have as much previous knowl- edge to draw on. I've really been impressed by the way Shane has worked, spent extra time, studied, tried to become a better student of the game. "He has a lot of physical abilities. It will be very important for him to have a really good fall camp." Asked directly if Morris, with his arm, could play a situational role if he does not win the starting job, Nussmeier called an audible. "You never know," he said. Redshirt junior Russell Bel- lomy's status has been in doubt much of the last year and a half, since he stepped in for an injured Denard Robinson at Nebraska. Bellomy missed the latter portion of the 2012 campaign with an un- disclosed injury, then tore an anterior cruciate ligament in a knee in spring ball 2013, costing him last fall. Now, he's trying to battle his way back into the mix. So far, so good, in terms of the progression with the offense, Nussmeier said. "Russell is a great student of the game," the quarterbacks coach observed. "He really understands what we're trying to do, how we want to do it. Coming off his injury, he's done a really good job in his rehabilitation. I'm really pleased with where he's at right now." Then there's Speight, the rangy (6-6, 230) rookie out of Richmond, Va., who finished up early at The Collegiate School and arrived in Ann Arbor for classes in January. He went through spring football, which constitutes a plus as big as Speight is, in the eyes of his posi- tion coach. "He's obviously a big guy," Nussmeier said. "You can't miss him. He's done a really good job of coming in, where everything is brand new, and learning the system. He really had a good understanding of what we're trying to accomplish in the passing game." Speight experienced the usual spate of rookie errors in the spring, which is to be expected. Now, it's about taking those and moving forward. "He's young, so he's going to make some mistakes," Nussmeier said. "I'm very happy with where he went from practice one to prac- tice 15, at the end of spring. We spent a lot of time talking about that. It's not about where you are today, but about setting up the learning and development. Let's get better every day at something, so at the end of spring we're better than when we started. "Now going into fall camp, he has a much better understanding of what we're asking him to do and how we want him to do that." The Wolverines didn't give their quarterbacks much help with the ground game in 2013. Even given Gardner's efforts, they stood No. 103 in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 125.69 yards per game. That sort of imbalance puts plenty of pressure on the quarterback. Hoke insists the Wolverines will run the football better. Nussmeier joins him in that vow. Asked if a team can run a decent offense without a strong rushing attack, Nussmeier's countenance changes from intensely confident to unwaveringly insistent. "You can always have a decent offense," he countered. "We don't want to be decent. We want to be great, at everything we do. We're not going to shy away from that. "Our goal is to achieve at a very, very high level, every day. We'll keep working until we get it right. At the end of the day, if you be- come one-dimensional in football on offense, it's very hard to have success against good defensive football teams." Whether it's an inquiring mind, a prospective Wolverine, or one of Nussmeier's present protégés at quarterback, anyone hearing him knows he means it. Now it's a matter of getting it done, and everyone is in process — especially the men behind center. ❑ This one hit Doug Nussmeier like an in-his- prime Lawrence Taylor from the blind side. The new Michigan quarterbacks coach finds himself so engaged in his work, and has for such a long time, that the whole notion of do- ing something else threw him. "That's a good question," he said. "I haven't had that one in a long time. I'd probably have to go back to Google and take that exam on what you want to be." After pondering the query for a good, long time, Michigan's man throwing the offensive switches took a stab at calling a second-career play. "I probably would be back in Portland, Ore., selling real estate or working for somebody doing something," Nussmeier mused. Plus, he thought of an area that challenges all of the men wearing the whistles. "You don't have a lot of time to think about a lot of other things," he said. "We seem to oc- cupy our time. I'd probably be more of a pro- fessional dad than I am now, and spend more time with my kids." — John Borton What I Would Be Doing If I Wasn't Coaching New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier (shown with Devin Gardner) has coached in the NFL, in the CFL and at several colleges over the last 14 years. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN Year Yards TD INT 2013 3221 21 13 2012 2591 20 19 2011 2377 22 16 2010 3252 23 15 2009 2380 15 15 Year Yards TD INT 2008 1718 11 12 2007 2862 25 14 2006 2538 22 8 2005 2672 23 8 2004 2795 25 12 Passing Stats Year-By-Year 86-90.QBs.indd 89 6/19/14 8:51 AM

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