Jim Harbaugh: 3 quarterbacks battling for starting job (ESPN)

Submitted by GoBlueinEugene on July 25th, 2017 at 4:33 PM


"[Speight] comes in really tied for first with John O'Korn and Brandon Peters, legitimately, through competition," Harbaugh said. "Throughout all the spring, we went through 15 practices and it was a dead heat. But the good news is they all did some things. Brandon really shot up. John O'Korn really played consistently good. And Wilton really had some impressive moments as well."


Mr. Yost

July 25th, 2017 at 4:38 PM ^

Pre-Camp motivation...that said, O'Korn has been absolutely forgotten about, I'm glad to hear he's still battling. They're only going to make each other better.

They've got 2-3 ELITE offensive minds mentoring them this fall. I think the growth over this fall camp (now that everyone's been in the system), is going to be HUGE. I expect big things from the starting QB position this year, I'm not going to get my hopes up too much...but there should be some true growth and improvement from last season.


July 25th, 2017 at 5:30 PM ^

Meh, I don't buy this at all. Unless Peters is truly the second coming of Andrew Luck (and even then what Speight gave us last year was better than Luck's first year). I don't see anyone but Wilton Speight at QB, barring injury, in 2017. 

This is all Harbaugh's meritocracy, fight til the bell ..and that is fine. I just don't buy that O'Korn and Peters are neck and neck with an incumbent starter who had a damn good year and should only get better. 

Mr. Yost

July 25th, 2017 at 5:52 PM ^

Don't buy what? My first words were that this is just "pre-camp motivation."

I was just adding that O'Korn has been forgotten about. It doesn't mean I think the job isn't Speight's. It means I'm not sure some people even remembered he was even still on the team.

The last part was just we've got Harbaugh/Pep/Drevno...these guys are getting ELITE coaching and all 3 should be better than the last time we saw them.


July 25th, 2017 at 6:20 PM ^

He doesn't buy that they are getting coaching from 2-3 ELITE guys... he thinks it's more like 8-10.

Honestly, I have no idea how this conversation links, but you're right... this is probably just pre camp motivation. O'Korn didn't beat out Speight last year, what's changed this year?


August 1st, 2017 at 3:40 PM ^

I wasn't disagreeing with your comment. Sorry it came across that way, I could have worded it better.

I'm sure all three will have gotten better this offseason, that said it's VERY tough to unseat an incumbent QB (especially one who did fairly well)...

So what I am not buying is what Harbaugh is saying regarding the three QB competition.


August 1st, 2017 at 3:59 PM ^

everywhere on this team, because that is how Harbaugh wants it. Doesn't matter who started where last year, you better come to fall camp ready to compete and fight for your job or someone else is going to take it.  That is how it always should be as it makes everyone on the team better. 

Mr. Yost

July 25th, 2017 at 4:44 PM ^

I do think some of the O'Korn hype was on us though.

Similar to the Shane Morris hype. A lot of people just wanted O'Korn to be the starter, period. Speight seemed boring and like a lesser version of Rudock or Navarre and O'Korn was a much "sexier" option this time last year.

Now that we've all seen Speight play REALLY well in spots and O'Korn play not so well...I haven't heard anyone hyping John like last year. Now a lot of folks seem to be all about Brandon Peters.

I'll say this, I wouldn't write O'Korn off completely. Last year was bad but he came in during some REALLY tough times. He should've played better, no question...heck, A LOT better. But I'm not going to write the kid off. There's a reason he was in the mix and he showed something down in Houston.

What I've learned from last year is...I truly in my loins don't care who's the starting QB. I just want it to be the best guy and I want him to BALL this season. I think last year, gun to my head, yes...I wanted O'Korn because I liked the added running deminsion and he just seemed more explosive from the hype. This year, it can be a walk on, I don't care...I'm so tired of not having an elite B1G QB (who can throw the ball), I'll talk whoever wins the job.

I suppose that's how it always should be. But we're fans.



July 25th, 2017 at 5:25 PM ^

He performed above expectations but his play did not win any football games. He won games against fairly easy opponents. When faced with higher level competition, he could not win the game as an elite QB would. This is what is missing for Michigan and prevents them from reaching the elite status in college football.

Mr. Yost

July 25th, 2017 at 5:56 PM ^

I agree, however, he had moments in OSU and FSU where he was really making plays and carrying the offense. It just wasn't enough. He's got to put together at least a whole half against that kind of comp...not 2-3 strong drives.

I look at Watson in the NC game, he was "alright" for his standards in the first half. But in the second half...hoo boy, he was MONEY. It was more than just one late game drive.

Speight was almost laughable for 3 quarters versus FSU then somewhere he woke up. If we can just get THAT for an extended period of time...we'll win those games. We don't need it for an entire game, not even Tom Brady does that. But if we can get a strong half? I think we'd be REALLY tough to beat.

Basically, minus the ramble...I agree, but I don't even think it has to be a full game. I think if he gives us a great half in a big game...we win that big game.


July 25th, 2017 at 6:34 PM ^

I think this is his point. Speight is OK. A lot better than expected. But he isn't going to win us games. He isn't going to lose us games. He's just OK. 

I want a QB that can win that Ohio State game with a late first down. We just needed one. The really good quarterbacks make that one play. Speight isn't that guy.

Is O'Korn? Is Peters? No idea. But we can hope.


July 25th, 2017 at 7:17 PM ^

I think it's too early to write Speight off as "just OK". He played well in spots and not in others but that's somewhat expected for a first year starter who was playing injured at the end of the season.

If he wins the competition this season I'd expect him to take a step towards getting that needed first down late in the games but, as someone else said, I'd also expect his receivers to make plays when they're in position to.

This season will tell the tale on Speight.


July 26th, 2017 at 9:42 AM ^

but "the expectations are for the position".

if Speight is so hurt at the end of the season that the team pisses away the Iowa Game and Speight pic 6s his way though OSU & FSU then why (after a whole season of practice at #2) wasn't OKorn preparred to come in when Wilton got hurt and keep the team moving forward?

We didn't need miracles against Iowa & OSU, we actually just needed late game competence.

I'm with others who say I don't care who the starter is,
but I do think the starter at Michigan needs to be better.


July 25th, 2017 at 7:39 PM ^

Forget about the TD against OSU where Speight wanted to go for 2 but we kicked an xp? Did Speight miss the tackle on JT on that crucial fourth down? A QB is part of a team and has a greater ability to effect the result than most players, but teams win or lose games.


July 25th, 2017 at 9:47 PM ^

Neither was Brian Griese after his first season of play. Neither was John Navarre after his first. Rick Leach made a bucket load of mistakes during his first season. In Harbaugh's first full season in '84, he wasn't setting the world on fire before he broke his arm against MSU—up to that point, he had 5 INTs and only 3 TDs.

Players develop and get better as they mature and get more time in practice and games. I know, strange concept.


July 25th, 2017 at 7:23 PM ^

I don't want this to come off wrong, but you should absolutely write O'Korn off, barring an injury to either of the other guys. You have an established starter with experience, a young really talented RS freshman, and O'Korn was a complete disaster in his only start last year vs Indiana.  

I'm sorry but I can't unsee how AWFUL O'Korn was vs IU. For a guy that had a previous season of college football under his belt, he looked like he had never played a snap of college football before. 7/16 59yards, some insanely long drop backs for no reason, no pocket awareness, some just brutal throws. He has no realistic shot at this job. 


July 25th, 2017 at 4:52 PM ^

Yeah. The difference is that last year there wasn't an incumbent with an entire season of starting experience under his belt. It takes a LOT to dethrone a starting QB, and I'll believe it when I see it.

Speight: One year starter. Some brilliant moments. Some not so much. Unclear how much trouble was caused by injury. Also, lest we forget, has a magical ability to make the first rusher miss.

O'Korn: Mop up and spot start last year. Failed to impress and did not cause any QB controversy. Scrambling ability was talked up but not really demonstrated.

Peters: Highly rated but untested.


July 25th, 2017 at 5:10 PM ^

Spot on. People forget how great Speight's pocket awareness was last year. Especially after Newsome went down, he extended a ton of plays.

I expect the OLine to be shaky again at the beginning of the season. Although we have a ton of talent at RB, replacing De'veon Smith's pass blocking abilities is going to be a hurdle. Speight's poise will be needed.


July 26th, 2017 at 8:44 AM ^

I think this is Speight's best quality. I was very impressed with his pocket presence last season. Thats not a "stat" people really look at but there were a ton of drives kept alive by that big guys ability to move in the pocket. Ill take him as the starter this year with Peters getting some gametime experience in garbage time.... Im sure there will be plenty of that against Sparty:)


July 27th, 2017 at 9:37 AM ^

When Speight has time in the pocket to set his feet and step into his throws, he looks like a potential NFL QB to me. He really does. But when rushed for whatever reason, his mechanics in general (and footwork in particular) break down and his accuracy suffered, even more than typical of guys at that position.


Some guys (Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, etc) can make good, accurate throws even with poor mechanics under pressure or on the run. That seems to me to be Speight's next hurdle in his development. Anyone else seeing something like this?


July 25th, 2017 at 4:39 PM ^

We won't know for sure til September 2nd. Unless umbig11 comes and says something. Let's just say I would be less surprised if Peters takes the first snap than I would have been if Morris took the first snap in 2015.


July 25th, 2017 at 4:39 PM ^

when you play for Harbaugh as it should be, QB is not the exception.  Been saying for a long time don't be shocked if Peters is the starting QB next year. Speight should have the inside track, but if Peters continues to improve from the Spring game and can move the team he could very well be #1 next year. If nothing else they all improve which is best for the team.

Woodstock Wolverine

July 25th, 2017 at 4:46 PM ^

Coach motivation speak. More than likely will be Speight unless something weird happens and I'm totally good with that. Speight with another year of Harbaugh should be really good to maybe even great. His pocket presence was fantastic last year and he usually hit his target on the run. Really expect great things from him this year.


July 25th, 2017 at 4:50 PM ^

I'd love to share that sentiment, but from what I saw in the spring game - throwing off back foot (so-so mechanics), medicore decision making and iffy timing, I was not inspired.  One spring game doesn't make a QB but was really hoping to see an improvement from last year and I personally saw none. 

That said, if anyone can get a guy ready it's Harbaugh.  I do feel we have to give Speight the benefit of the doubt due to injury - so it's possible he just had a bad spring game.

Woodstock Wolverine

July 25th, 2017 at 5:04 PM ^

Spring game was uninspiring for sure. Looking at the big picture though, his experience and how he performed in "most" games as a first year starter is huge. It's certainly possible he can take a big leap forward this year. Dude was really good with a couple his ups. Fix those hic ups and the sky is the limit.

AA Forever

July 25th, 2017 at 5:36 PM ^

are two different things.  Speight is solid, but not an athletically gifted QB.  He has a ceiling that he's probably pretty close to, and losing his three biggest targets from last year and having a mediocre Oline again won't help.  He will probably be the starter for the opener, but I will be surprised if he doesn't struggle at some points, and elicit calls from the faithful for Peters.


July 25th, 2017 at 9:18 PM ^

No it's not. He is actually pretty decent. He has good pocket awareness and that is important. He is cool under fire. You don't have to be blazing fast to be good athletically. There are other attributes like balance, dexterity, etc. that can be factors. 

He is the starter, especially on a young team that will need all the leadership it can get.