By PHILLIP LUTZ, Sports Editor
The Michigan Wolverine football team played the Air Force Falcons on Saturday afternoon. Michigan won the game 29-13, but not without some trouble from the Falcons. The Wolverines were less than stellar on offense, as the unit failed to score a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter.
This is the third game this season and we have not had any outstanding performances from the Michigan offense yet. Is Wilton Speight the right quarterback for this team? Does Wilton Speight have an undisclosed injury?
During the Air Force game, Speight completed 14 passes on 23 attempts and was sacked 2 times. He threw for 169 yards on the day, but several passes were off the mark. When he did hit the mark, his receivers dropped the ball. Speight has had plenty of protection up front, he just does not find an open man fast enough. Because of this, he is forced to roll out of the pocket while going through his progressions
This has been a trend this season and has even led to Speight sitting down for a couple series during the Florida game to get his head straight. While Speight came back into the Florida game and played well, it did not translated to the game against Air Force.
In turn, the team focused on the running game Saturday against Air Force with 42 rushing attempts and a net gain of 190 yards and a touchdown. This could have been an offensive choice by the coaches, but we do not know that at this time. It is also possible the coaches do not want to show what the team is capable of before Big Ten play starts.
The offense looked out of sorts all day and had to rely on freshman kicker Quinn Nordin’s leg to score all the points until late in the fourth quarter. The defense spent way too much time on the field during this game and kept it close while the offense kicked field goals. Nordin tied the school record for field goals made in a game with five.
Comparing the games so far, Speight is not living up to the potential and expectations of a Michigan quarterback in his second year as starter. During the Florida game to open the season Speight threw for 181 yards and was intercepted for touchdowns twice. He completed 11 of 25 attempts in the passing game and was sacked 3 times. He also threw for 1 touchdown. He was off the mark the first half with several poorly thrown balls.
During the Cincinnati game he completed 17 passes on 29 attempts for 221 yards. He threw 2 touchdowns and was sacked once. He had a few high thrown balls this game but control was better.
Again, I ask, what is the issue so far this season with the offense?
Jon Jansen said after the game that “the Michigan offense needs to find three to four plays to focus on this season and make those their plays”. He went on to say “Michigan has four or five sure handed tight ends that they need to start to utilize more”.
Michigan has always used the tight end position as a safety valve for the quarterback and so far this year this team has not used them more than a few times per game. Is the the tight end the answer? Not all in itself, but we will see what the coaching staff changes as the Wolverines enter Big Ten play next week at Purdue.