The Wolverine

October 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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OCTOBER 2016 THE WOLVERINE 25 "That's one that's really come along the last couple weeks, making those subtle moves in the pocket to get to the quieter spots in the pocket," Harbaugh said. "Two weeks ago he started to get some nice loft on the screens and the flares out of the backfield. He's coming together. "He's doing a nice job. When he focuses on something to get better at, he gets right to work on it and gets better at it every day." He's working on completing the destruction of misperceptions, one by one. There's one Speight doesn't mind lingering, though — the one about immobility. "I'm cool with that perception," he said. "Because then I can actually go out and be a little bit mobile in the pocket and avoid sacks, flush the pocket when I need to. If people want to keep thinking that, it's fine with me. I'll just keep doing it and surprise them. "Any time you're 6-6, maybe 6-7, almost 250 pounds, you're going to get that perception. I'm not saying I'm Cam Newton, but I can move if I need to." He's proved it in the big picture, over and over. Now he plans to just keep on moving. ❏ If the bottom line involves wins, Wilton Speight couldn't have gotten off to a better beginning as Michigan's starting quarter- back. Nobody can improve on 3-0. That said, he's played a major role in getting the Wolverines there, given his ability to deliver the ball and — for the most part — keep it away from the other team. With a 63.8 comple- tion percentage, 686 passing yards, eight touchdowns and just one interception through the non-conference season, he's been more than solid. By comparison, here are the first three starts of the last sev- eral Michigan quarterbacks: Jake Rudock (2015) — Ru- dock drew a tough road as- signment at Utah in his first start at Michigan. He bounced back with wins over Oregon State and UNLV to go 2-1. Through three games, Rudock stood 59-of-91 passing (64.8 percent) for 582 yards with three touchdowns and five in- terceptions. Devin Gardner (2012) — Gardner faced a bigger chal- lenge than most new starting quarterbacks. Due to an injury to Denard Robinson, Gardner stepped in well into the Big Ten season, facing three con- ference foes. The Wolverines went 3-0, knocking off Minne- sota on the road, and North- western and Iowa at home. Gardner completed 46 of 70 throws (65.7 percent) for 834 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Denard Robinson (2010) — Robinson got off to an electrifying start in his first three games, going 3-0 ver- sus Connecticut, Notre Dame and Massachusetts. The rookie starter experienced a game for the ages at Notre Dame, rush- ing for 258 yards, throwing for 244 and accounting for 502 yards of Michigan's 532 yards of total offense. Through three games, he boasted the gaudy totals of 53-of-76 passing (69.7 percent) for 671 yards with four touchdowns and one inter- ception. He also accumulated 559 yards and four touchdowns rushing. Tate Forcier (2009) — Forcier reeled off three home wins as a true freshman starter at Michigan Stadium, beating Western Michigan, Notre Dame and Eastern Michigan. He connected on 43 of 66 passes (65.2 percent) for 487 yards with five touch- downs and one interception. Nick Sheridan (2008) — Sheridan's first three starts were spread out through the season. He got the nod in the season opener, in which the Wolverines narrowly lost at home to Utah, 25-23. A loss to To- ledo followed five games later, and Sheridan made it 1-2 in a win at Min- nesota late in the season. He wound up 37-of-65 passing (56.9 percent) for 366 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions in his first three starts. Steven Threet (2008) — When Sheridan wasn't starting, Threet was in Rich Rodriguez' first year. Threet guided the Wolverines to wins over Miami (Ohio) and Wisconsin, sand- wiched around a loss at Notre Dame. In those starts, he completed 34 of 67 throws (50.7 percent) for 334 yards with two touchdowns and two inter- ceptions. Chad Henne (2004) — Henne stands as Michigan's most prolific passer ever, but didn't start that way. He went 2-1, beating Miami (Ohio) and San Diego State, wrapped around a loss against Notre Dame. He began his career by completing 50 of 88 attempts (56.8 percent) for 544 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions. John Navarre (2000) — An injury to veteran Drew Henson forced Na- varre, a redshirt freshman, into action early. He led victories over Bowling Green and Rice, prior to a road loss at UCLA. He went 33-of-62 passing (53.2 percent) for 505 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception in the opening trio of games. — John Borton Speight's Start Ranks With The Best Jake Rudock, U-M's 2015 starter, finished the season strong en route to being drafted by the Detroit Lions, but he did not get off to as strong of a start as Speight. PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN

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