Testing a QB’s Mettle
The most painful hits in football are the ones you never see coming.
Wilton Speight experienced such a hit on his second series versus Colorado.
“I was just like wow, that hurt,” Speight said afterward. “I’ve never been hit like that before. It was completely blind. I didn’t see it. I had no idea.”
The ice on his shoulder and elbow were visible proof of the punishment he sustained, but so too was the stat sheet. Michigan's junior gunslinger entered the game having completed 35/50 passes (70%). He finished the Colorado game having gone 16/30. While the Buffalo defense deserves credit for its performance, Speight's early injury clearly mitigated his. Jim Harbaugh opted to stay with his new signal caller despite his clear confidence in the ability backup John O'Korn. The reason?
"It's an opportunity to show people that you're tough,” Harbaugh said in an interview with The Michigan Insider. “It's an opportunity for a quarterback to show that he doesn't have a glass jaw… that he can take a punch. It shows people that he has some grit on him. It's an opportunity that I wanted him to show what he was about. His football character, and I thought it was excellent that he wasn't crying foul and he wasn't acting like a victim. He was right in there proving his toughness. That it as simply as it can be put."
Isaac Bounces back from Adversity
Michigan running back Ty Isaac spent much of last year on the bench after tripping up on a few performance and disciplinary hurdles. That experienced hardened the former five-star recruit and developed in him a new resolve. Since then the model of consistency and preparation on the practice and has been rewarded with time on the field. So when he scored a touchdown in Saturday’s match up with Colorado Harbaugh was so proud he greeted his previously embattled pupil with a hug.
On Isaac: "That was one of those moments personally, for me as a coach, it felt good. I know there's been some tough love there with Ty, he's always been a personal favorite of mine. To see him just keep battling, keep getting better and the work that he's put in and see him have success, that was personal. That felt really good. We're hoping to continue to see good things from Ty. He's a good young man and he's a hard worker, he's a tough kid. It means a lot to him, it's important to him. I just want to see him have success."
The Battle at Left Guard
Ben Braden re-entered the lineup at left guard in the second game of the season versus Central Florida, but has ceded some of his time to his precocious counterpart Ben Bredeson. Competition for the spot is ongoing, but Harbaugh made it clear the incumbent is the favorite.
"Whatever is best for the team and Ben (Braden) has been working through some things and if he can get back to full health, he's the guy," said Harbaugh. "He's proven that. But it's been, you've always got to have six, seven guys - eight guys available that are in a rotation that are available to play. That's when you have a completely healthy line. It's been good that guys are stepping up, David Dawson is another guy that can get in there. Michael Onwenu is a tremendous talent and he can play either side of the ball and both of those options are available going into a game. Juwan Bushell-Beatty is another outstanding player. I feel like we have talented players there that are all competing for spots. As Jackie Harbaugh would say, the cream would rise to the top. Just like Fairlife Milk. Hope you go to YouTube and watch those spots."
For more on Harbaugh’s new relationship with Fairlife Milk press play below.