By HANNAH GENIG, Staff Writer
Perhaps one of the most debated topics for this season of Michigan Football was the decision of starting quarterback. With the high expectations that last year’s starter Jake Rudock had instilled for any future quarterback, it comes to no surprise that this decision was very carefully thought out and executed. Ever since Wilton Speight was revealed as the starting quarterback at the season opener against Hawaii, all of the offensive puzzle pieces began to fit together nicely.
Despite an interception as his first pass and some other small technical issues since, Speight has continued to represent why he is indeed the best person for the job, with the game against the University of Central Florida as no exception.
While there should be credit where credit is due, the quarterback is only as good as his receivers and runners. Luckily for Speight, he works alongside athletes like Jehu Chesson, Jake Butt and Amara Darboh.
With any new quarterback, however, comes the worry of whether or not the playmaker will be able to exude chemistry with his receivers, both on and off the field. This lack of chemistry is alarmingly apparent in some cases when both positions are extremely talented, but just not working together harmoniously. This quarterback and receiver relationship is a crucial skill that must be practiced and consistently focused on.
Because of his personal interest in the passing game, it seems as if chemistry is something that head coach Jim Harbaugh has taken into account. On top of that, Harbaugh routinely mentions Speight’s improvement since the bowl game. “He’s just gotten better. It’s like we were talking about earlier, he gets something to work on, he works on it. Gets improvement made really fast. He’s a smart guy that’s very dedicated to getting better at something, so anything we’ve given him, Jedd or I have talked to him about in terms of improving his play, he’s been all ears and he goes right to work on it.”
Not only have coaches and players commented on their fluid passing relationship, the statistics point out that things are definitely going well. In Saturday’s game against UCF, Speight threw for over 300 yards and completed 25 of his 37 pass attempts. This resulted in no interceptions, but four great touchdowns to allow the Wolverines to dominate the game entirely.
On the other end of the pass, wide receiver Amara Darboh leads the team with eight receptions totaling 153 yards and three touchdowns, in just two games. Alongside him is tight end Jake Butt with eight receptions for 105 yards and three touchdowns as well. These two talented players, along with wide receiver Jehu Chesson make up one of the best groups in the country. There is not much these guys cannot catch and it is overwhelmingly evident that they enjoy working with Speight.
After the game against UCF, Speight was asked what he has done personally to increase chemistry. “Throwing routes and working our tails off back since January after the Florida game. No real special recipe or secret, just working hard.” He also reported that he likes throwing to players like Chesson because he’s fast and does what he can to get open.
For any fan watching a Michigan game this season, it is fun to see the dynamic between different players on the field. Despite skill, practice and determination, there is still the unique importance of cohesiveness for a team like this. Based on the performance of Speight and his receivers for the past two games, fans should have high hopes for the rest of the season and get acclimated to seeing high point values on the scoreboard.