Michigan Spring Football Game: 3 Things That Mattered

    Michigan Spring Football: What mattered in the Wolverine spring football game and what to take away from the scrimmage

    April 2, 2016


    Michigan Spring Football Game: What three things mattered in the Wolverine spring football game and what to take away from the scrimmage


    After all the hullabaloo this offseason and all the fake controversy, Michigan got to play a little real football – at least in terms of spring practices – in its spring game.

    That it happened on April Fools’ Day was perfect considering everything Jim Harbaugh has been involved in over the last few months, but he has a real, live, very, very good team coming into the season – meaning the spring scrimmage mattered.

    One side beat the other 14-13 ending on a stuffed two-point conversion – about as interesting as it gets for a spring game. Here are the three things that mattered about Michigan’s spring football game.

    Wilton Speight just might be Michigan’s new starting quarterback

    There wasn’t much of a question last season that Jake Rudock was going to be the main man once he got the chance – 1) he was far better than Shane Morris, and 2) he wasn’t going to transfer to Michigan unless he was going to all but be the guy – but this year it really is supposed to be a quarterback battle up until late August.

    Houston transfer John O’Korn was supposed to rise up and shine, and there are still plenty of other options to play around with, but it was Wilton Speight who ended up standing out in spring ball and looking the part in the spring game.

    Speight has the size, the arm, the look, and he even showed off a little bit of mobility with a rushing score in the spring scrimmage. It’s hardly a done deal that he’s the starters when Hawaii comes to town on September 3rd, but he appears to be the guy to beat after completing 5-of-6 passes for 46 yards and a score.

    Jim Harbaugh is always going to be wacky

    Everyone runs some trick play in a spring scrimmage, but it’s Harbaugh. His trick play was more believable when it comes to what’s probably going to happen in the regular season.

    From the Spring Break trip to Florida to all his poke-the-bear moves to raise up the awareness of Michigan football, when it comes to being unconventional, right now there’s Jim Harbaugh, and there’s the rest of college football.

    But it’s calculated.

    Harbaugh knows that all the stunts he’s pulling and all the wild and crazy things he does will do nothing but help make the program stand out from the pack – really, you want to go through the drudgery of life in Nick Saban’s Alabama world or play for a fun guy in Ann Arbor? – and there’s always going to be a purpose.

    In the first quarter, John O’Korn took the snap, threw it back to Shane Morris, who threw a strike to Drake Johnson for the score.

    Does it mean Morris is going to see time as a receiver? Not necessarily, but if he’s not the starter, he might be out there in some role. And now, because of this one play, he’s going to be a distraction if he’s ever lined up wide in a real game.

    Is it fair to the defense to run a goofy trick play in the first quarter? No. Is it fun? Of course. Does it make everyone on the Michigan schedule now think that this type of thing could be run at any time? Yup, and now opposing coaches are going to have to prepare for it.

    The real key to the play, though, might have been that …

    Really? Can Shane Morris become a receiver?

    Morris was a superstar recruit for Brady Hoke – expected to be the next great Michigan quarterback – but he might forever be known mostly for being left in a game against Minnesota two years ago after suffering what appeared to be a concussion.

    With the rise of Speight, and with O’Korn likely option No. 1A on the depth chart going into the summer, what role is there for Morris?

    The 6-3, 208-pound senior has size, he has the smarts, and he has experience – he saw time at quarterback in the spring game. Unfortunately, he’s just not all that consistent as a pure passer, so if he’s not going to be anything more than the No. 3 quarterback is he going to be a decent midrange target?

    He’s never going to be a Braxton Miller speed receiver, but he can be a part of the puzzle, showing off on a key 25-yard catch late in the scrimmage. At the very least, the option is on the table if he doesn’t beat out Speight and O’Korn later this summer.

    MORE: 5 Keys to the Michigan football schedule

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