ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Fans have been vocal in hopes that Michigan QB Wilton Speight would go from good to great before it’s too late. And on Saturday against Illinois, Speight took a big step forward.
Aside from his part-time game against Hawaii in Week One, Wilton Speight boasted his highest QBR on Saturday with a staggering 190.7 rating. His swagger in the pocket and consistently accurate passes haven’t been seen on such a display all season.
“He was just on the money,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said during his post-game press conference about the redshirt sophomore. “The entire game, I thought Wilton Speight may have had one of the best games of his career.”
In the offseason, Speight was advertised as a “good-not-great” quarterback who would get the job done, without mistakes, but there were concerns as to whether he could make the big play in the big game. While Saturday against a bad Illinois team wasn’t a “big game,” certainly it was a stage for Speight to showcase how good he can be.
He was 16-of-23 passing for 253 yards and two touchdowns.
“Every time you go out there on Saturday, you want to give the impression of domination,” Speight said during the post-game press conference.
Speight did exactly that in the Wolverines’ 41-8 win over the Illini. He completed an impressive 70 percent of his passes in guiding the team to another blowout win.
What made him great Saturday afternoon was fairly obvious — his quiet, but deadly confidence.
“Wilton’s best trait is his confidence,” redshirt freshman TE Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. said after the game. “He’s a student of the game. This bye week, he didn’t take one day off.”
In addition to his pinpoint accuracy and confidence through the roof, Speight used his legs for a first down on a second-and-7, something we haven’t seen all season, but saw a lot on high school tape. And senior WR Amara Darboh said that isn’t the last we see of plays like that from his quarterback.
“He’s a playmaker,” Darboh said. “He might not look one, but he’s a playmaker.”
The Wolverines will need Speight to be a playmaker next week against Michigan State. Speight hasn’t played a down against Michigan State, and he also hasn’t been part of a team to defeat the Spartans.
During the post-game press conference, Speight touched on what it will be like to move forward from a career day, and head into a game against Michigan State that evokes a lot of memories from last year’s heartbreak.
“This isn’t a game you have to try to find motivation for, this is a rivalry game,” Speight said.
Michigan kicks off against the in-state rival Spartans at noon next Saturday in East Lansing.