Shane Morris was Michigan’s top performing quarterback Friday. It was the best we’ve seen him look a quite some time. His comfort was obvious, as evidenced by the number of times he went through his progressions and found his target. The most impressive instance of that came late in the practice when Morris dropped back, surveyed his options to his left, stepped up in the pocket as pressure from the edge was bearing down on him, then found Maurice Ways all the way to his right, down the sideline for a 45 yard touchdown. There were a number of other instances where we saw him fire the ball on the money on crossing patterns and slants, but more encouraging was his touch. His best pass of the day was a terrific arcing delivery to Jake Butt on a post between two safeties. The question for the former five star signal caller is will he be able to perform that way consistently. All we can say for sure is it was a VERY encouraging sign for Morris and he served notice that he should be seen as much more than an afterthought in the competition.
Amara Darboh was simply stellar all week. He got open against everyone including Jourdan Lewis at times. O'Korn found Darboh on a 70 post and would’ve connected the senior pass catcher on another bomb had he not hung a pass down the sideline after Darboh had beaten Stribling by two-steps on a stutter & go. Precision route running got him free on slants and digs all day. The senior wideout looks like he is ready to take his game to another level.
John O'Korn showed the most consistent deep ball touch all the quarterbacks over the four days in Florida. However, during the portion of practice that the media was present for he also appeared to have more interceptions. He tried to squeeze the ball in spots at times, threw late at others. To be clear, he didn’t perform poorly. He was just a little inconsistent in the short/intermediate game. Harbaugh explained why. O’Korn was a scout team quarterback last year, so getting the timing of plays down and chemistry with the wideouts is a process. It’s reasonable to expect that those instances decrease significantly in the coming weeks. And one trait he possesses that the other quarterbacks won’t be able to match him on. None are as mobile as him. It’s an element that will continue to add to the intrigue of O’Korn as Jake Rudock’s successor.
Maurice Ways made his presence felt. Whether it was the jump ball he caught over Jourdan Lewis… or the backside nine route that he didn’t loaf on because the play was unlikely to come to him and resulted in a touchdown… he looked ready to seriously compete for a prime rotation spot.
On a day where there were a number of dropped passes, Drake Harris was one of the more sure-handed. The only drop we noted was on a diving attempt a across the middle. He was a reliable target on the underneath stuff. It will be interest to see if they begin to try to take advantage of his jump ball ability down the field.
Brandon Peters – He didn’t connect as much as often as his aforementioned counterparts, but his early comfort with the offense was noticeable and impressive. He seemed to know where to go with the football. Harbaugh gushed about that in his last chat with the media in Florida. The composure his freshman signal caller exhibited was easy to see for even an untrained eye. The biggest observation was this all doesn’t seem too big for him.
Jabrill Peppers – The only thing that we can add to previous superlatives is we expect Peppers to be a major weapon in the blitz game. Much more than he was from his nickel spot last year. What we don’t know yet is how much he will be used on offense. We didn’t see him take one snap on that side of the ball.
Jake Butt – This is a high level NFL tight end plying in college. Plain and simple.
Called Out by the Coaches
Offensive line play – there were issues with picking up twists and stunts (more so when Cole was out), Newsome had his trouble with Winovich, there were a few errant snaps, and generally speaking there was too much pressure on the quarterback. That shouldn’t cause alarm bells to go off. Defenses generally ahead of offenses at this point, the line has been shuffled, and there is a new center. It will get much better in the coming weeks, and it’s reasonable to expect it to pick up right where last year’s line left off in the Citrus Bowl.
There were a number of dropped footballs (though not by the mainstays Darboh and But who were flawless). Enough to draw the Harbaugh’s ire during practice.