The Wolverine

February 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 24 of 75

FEBRUARY 2017 THE WOLVERINE 25 but when it was working, the players really liked playing for him. He spread it around, and it was really an unpre- dictable thing." BACK TO COLLEGE Hamilton's Stanford tenure repre- sented his only venture into the col- lege game, following those early days at Howard. His coming back ranks as "somewhat surprising" to the Colts' beat writer, especially given Hamil- ton's success in 2014. "Remember," Keefer said, "after that 2014 season, he interviewed with the Oakland Raiders to become their head coach. That's the first step, right? You get a couple of interviews, and you keep doing well, and eventually you get a job. "He wanted to get a head-coaching job, so I'm a little bit surprised he went back to the college game. I will say this — he was in Cleveland [which went 1-15 this year]. That had to be a long year, and a tough year. The chance to work with Jim Harbaugh again has to be quite appealing." He'll need to hit the ground running, with spring football right around the corner, a quarterback competition to renew in earnest and U-M's top wideouts to replace. Keefer noted Hamilton can handle all of that and the local media attention as well. "He's very pol- ished, very under- stated when he deals with the me- dia," Keefer said. "He's very dry in press conferences, and he knows it, too. He knows the game, but you're not going to get any expansive, de- tailed answers from him." That might represent another plus, from the powers that be in Schembechler Hall. Nobody talks their way to a title, and the work remains ongoing. ❏ Michigan's Passing Game: A Look Back Michigan's offense has undergone a host of changes over the past decade, from Lloyd Carr's last year at the helm, to the tenures of Rich Rodriguez, Brady Hoke and now Jim Harbaugh. Here's a quick look back at Michigan's passing attack over those years: 2007 — Michigan threw for 2,862 yards and 25 touchdowns, 1,938 yards and 17 touchdowns belonging to record-setting senior Chad Henne. The year proved an aberration for Henne, with the senior battling an arm injury and performing in only 10 games. He stepped up to throw for 373 yards and three scores in the Capital One Bowl alone, leading U-M past Urban Meyer's Florida squad, 41-35. 2008 — U-M's passing game dropped off the table in the first year under Rodri- guez, the Wolverines throwing for 1,718 yards and 11 touchdowns. Steven Threet led the way with 1,105 yards and nine TD tosses. 2009 — Freshman Tate Forcier (2,050 yards passing, 13 scores) paced a Michigan attack that covered 2,380 yards and 15 touchdowns via the skies. 2010 — Michigan made a huge leap with Denard Robinson taking over at quar- terback, his 2,570 yards and 18 touchdowns passing leading an attack that accounted for 3,252 passing yards and 23 scores through the air. 2011 — Hoke's first season as head coach saw Robinson pass for 2,173 yards and 20 touch- downs, directing an attack that accounted for 2,377 yards and 22 touchdowns in the air. Michigan went on to win the Sugar Bowl that season. 2012 — Robinson gave way to Devin Gard- ner after an injury, throwing for 1,319 yards and nine touchdowns while Gardner threw for 1,219 and 11 TDs. Michi- gan totaled 2,591 yards and 20 touchdowns through the air. 2013 — Gardner took over completely, passing for 2,960 yards and 21 touchdowns, in an attack that totaled 3,221 yards and 21 scores through the air. It marked only the second time since 2003 that the Wolverines eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark passing. 2014 — Hoke's last year saw Michigan throw for only 2,042 yards and 10 touch- downs, Gardner making all the TD tosses and account- ing for 1,896 yards. 2 0 1 5 — H a r b a u g h brought in graduate transfer quarterback Jake Rudock, and Rudock's 3,017 yards and 20 touchdowns passing paced an aerial assault that tallied 3,090 yards and 21 scores overall. Rudock be- came Michigan's first passer since John Navarre in 2003 (3,331) to eclipse 3,000 yards in the air. 2016 — Rookie starter Wilton Speight, a redshirt sophomore, threw for 2,538 yards and 18 touch- downs out of Michigan's team total of 2,756 yards and 20 scoring throws. Speight's late-season shoulder injury impacted his numbers, keeping him out of the Indiana game and limiting him against Ohio State. — John Borton In his first season as a starter in 2016, redshirt sophomore Wilton Speight threw for 2,538 yards and 18 touch- downs despite suffering a late- season shoulder injury that sidelined him for one game and limited him in another. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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