The Wolverine

October 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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32 THE WOLVERINE OCTOBER 2016 BY JOHN BORTON M ichigan's offense rocketed out of the non-conference season with the fourth- highest scoring unit in the nation, averaging 53.0 points per game. Only Louisville (65.0), Texas Tech (61.0) and Ohio State (56.7) put more points up over the course of the first three games. That's fool's gold, in part. Michigan didn't face elite-level tests out of the defenses it came up against, although both Central Florida and Colorado fielded some strong athletes on that side of the ball. Plus, the Wolverines cashed in on a blocked punt and a punt return versus the Buffaloes, ac- counting for 14 points, while other spe- cial teams plays set the table for even more scores. The real test figured to arrive with conference play and the weekly bat- tles against Big Ten-level talent. That said, Michigan fans know infinitely more about the offense for their team of choice than they did at the end of spring football. Here's an overview/analysis of what came out from behind the cur- tain the first three weeks of the season. QUARTERBACK Redshirt sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight held off all challengers in fall camp, winning the starting job behind center. Ever since, there's been plenty to like, including Big Ten Player of the Week honors following his four touchdown passes in the 51-14 rout over UCF. He made it through the non-confer- ence season with a quarterback rating of 166.28, 18th-best in the nation. He went 51-of-80 passing (63.8 percent) for 686 yards with eight touchdowns and just one interception — on his very first pass as a Michigan starter. All good and no worries, right? Again, it's going to get tougher for the Wolverines' field general. In fact, it did against Colorado, when he hit just three of his first 11 throws and fumbled after being hammered by a Buffaloes' blitzer while the Wolverines were fall- ing behind, 21-7. He came away with his shoulder wrapped afterwards and acknowl- edged the hit — in which a helmet made contact "right in the sweet spot" — affected him somewhat. "It definitely hurt, but I try, with ev- ery play and every hit, to move on," FLYING START Michigan's Offense Steams Through Non-Conference Schedule After three contests, fifth-year senior wideout Amara Darboh leads the Wolverines with four touchdowns on his 10 catches, which have gained 204 yards. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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