ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Michigan football team completed its first week of preseason camp, and while practices remain closed, we’ll fill you in on what we’ve learned from Michigan’s preseason camp.
Michigan opens the regular season at 3:30 p.m. ET Sept. 2 against Florida at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The rundown of the first week of preseason camp includes a look into the quarterbacks competition, where Michigan sits in the preseason polls and a visit from a high-profile former NFL receiver.
How the quarterbacks competition is progressing
While everything is under wraps at Michigan, three quarterbacks are competing for the starting spot: Wilton Speight, Brandon Peters and John O’Korn. Are there any front-runners? Offensive coordinator Tim Drevno won’t exactly say so. However, Drevno said the top determining factor in who will win the job will be “the best player for us to win football games.”
Judging from numbers alone, that’s Speight, who quarterbacked nine of Michigan’s 10 wins in 2016. But Drevno also said he wouldn’t be averse to using two quarterbacks in a game.
“We could do that,” Drevno said. “At times there are different packages and things. Going into a football game, you’re always looking for the best things to attack the defense. If that’s something that presents a problem for the team you’re playing, that could be an option.”
Is it an option for this fall?
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “We’re still putting this thing together and putting the offensive concepts together. We’ll see as we go.”
Drevno is pleased with the competition in Michigan’s first week of practices.
“We’ve had three days of practice completed and it’s just been very good,” Drevno said Thursday. “They’re leading well, throwing the ball well, focused in meetings. They’re really off to a good start.”
Optimism a must for a young defense
Michigan had the No. 1 pass defense in the country in 2016 (142.5 yards a game) and the No. 2 scoring defense in the country (14.1 points a game). Michigan loses all but one starter in its defense in linebacker Mike McCray, and has to overcome a hindrance of youth and inexperience.
This doesn’t deter defensive coordinator Don Brown. Actually, the challenge energizes him. Not just the challenge of rebuilding, but the challenge of teaching.
“It energizes you as a coach that you’re going in there and guys, you have to teach them a concept,” Brown said. “That’s what we do as teachers. But I think the bigger challenge is creating a picture and a vision for what you want the defense to be. And then getting them to go buy into it. That’s the bigger challenge on a year-to-year basis.”
Don Brown might prefer donuts
Brown turned 62 on Monday, the first day of Michigan’s camp. It was a birthday present of sorts for the second-year defensive coordinator — Brown also said Jim Harbaugh’s decision to move Drake Harris from wide receiver to cornerback was an early birthday present.
Brown didn’t divulge exactly how he celebrated his birthday. Yet Land of 10 asked a pressing question on its Twitter account: was there birthday cake for Brown at the first day of camp?
Fergus Connolly, Michigan’s director of performance science, answered that question.
He's more a donut kinda guy … humble and less flashy
— Fergus Connolly (@Fergus_Connolly) July 31, 2017
‘Ochocinco’ likely doesn’t have an extra year of eligibility
We know Michigan’s wide receivers are young and largely inexperienced, but no, former NFL player Chad Johnson (also known as “Ochocinco,” in homage to the No. 85 he wore with the Cincinnati Bengals) doesn’t have any remaining eligibility.
But Johnson visited Michigan’s facility on Wednesday, the third day of preseason practices, and laced up his Jordan Jumpman cleats and demonstrated a cone drill to some of Michigan’s players, as documented by the Michigan Snapchat account.
Johnson caught 67 touchdowns and finished with more than 11,000 receiving yards in his 11-year NFL career.
Michigan makes the polls — again
Part of the fun of preseason polls is the fact that it provides fodder as we work through the dog days of August and count the days until college football games kick off.
Michigan hovers in the top half of the nation’s Top 25 in the national polls released Thursday. Michigan is No. 9 in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll, and No. 13 in the ESPN.com preseason Top 25 poll.
Many don’t put stock in preseason polls, but they do make for strong conversation starters.
Michigan riding that hype 🚂
— B.G. (@HuskerB1Gchamps) August 3, 2017