Michigan QBs through the last 3 seasons

Submitted by BoFlex on October 15th, 2017 at 4:33 PM

Had some free time last night, and decide to go back to look at the QBs that have pass through Michigan the last 3 years.

In 2015, Harbaugh started at Michigan with:

  • Jr. Shane Morris - 4*, #3 PRO, #72 overall
    • At Michigan: 47/92 (51%), 434 passing yards, 0 TDs, 5 INTs
    • At CMU: 154/279 (55.9%), 1767 passing yards, 13 TDs, 11 INTs
  • RsFr. Wilton Speight - 3*, #23 PRO, #453 overall
    • At Michigan: 257/437 (58.8%). 3192 passing yards, 23 TDs, 10 INTs

Add 2 transfers for 2015:

  • RsSr. Jake Rudock: 3*, #23 PRO, #627 overall
    • At Iowa: 417/691 (60.3%), 4819 passing yards, 42 TDs, 18 INTs
    • At Michigan: 249/389 (64%), 3017 passing yards, 24 TDs, 9 INTs
  • RsSo. John O'Korn: 3*, #32 PRO, #632 overall
    • At Houston: 349/619 (56.4%), 4068 passing yards, 36 TDs, 18 INTs
      • AAC RoY (2013)
    • At Michigan: 65/116 (56%), 736 passing yards, 3 TDs, 4 INTs

Two QBs in Class of 2015:

  • Fr. Zach Gentry: 4*, #8 PRO, #175 overall
    • At Michigan: 8 receptions, 134 yards, 1 TD
  • Fr. Alex Malzone: 4*, #12 PRO, #292 overall

One QB in Class of 2016:

One QB in Class of 2017:

Two QBs in Class of 2018 (tentatively):

Definitely fair to point out that 3/6 QBs (depending on what you consider transfers) on the 2015 roster were not handpicked by Harbaugh, but also that some of his mystique of being a "QB Whisperer" came from developing outside guys (i.e. Jake Rudock, Alex Smith). When Harbaugh first got into town and loaded up on 6 scholarship QBs, people were super confident that Harbaugh was setting up a dynasty of 1st round QBs.

Now after 3 seasons later with John O'Korn, Wilton Speight, and Alex Malzone, Speight is clearly the best of the bunch, and Alex Malzone has pretty much disappeared off the face of the Earth. I sometimes wonder if QB depth was in such bad shape, why didn't Gentry get more of a shot before moving to TE? It seems like McKeon, Eubanks, Wheatley, Bunting, and Hammering Panda would have been able to anchor the TE group without Gentry.



October 15th, 2017 at 4:55 PM ^

Thanks! Good luck to him! ... As an aside: what kind of success rate should we expect from a good QB coach over time? That is, assuming recruiting at a four star average, what fraction of recruited QBs should a good QB coach be expected to turn into average plus QBs (I'd settle for merely serviceable at this point) on the field? This is over time and on average, of course... 50%? 25%?

Ghost of Fritz…

October 15th, 2017 at 5:26 PM ^

but from Grbac until Mallet, every Michigan starting QB (and even some guys who were not the starter) got at least a cup of coffee in the NFL.

That is the model JH is aiming to reestablish. 

People are down on Speight right now, but based on 2016 it would have been reasonable to expect him to at least get signed as an undrafted FE.  Now it is unclear.  His 4 games in 2017 were not great and it remains to be seen how he will respond to his injury.

People wonder why Peters is not yet starting as a RS freshman. 

However, in the period from Grbac to Mallet (1989 to 2007) M started RS soph or younger only a few seasons.  Henne and Navarre only, right?  Driesbach started one year early in his career I think, but then was beat out the next year by Greise.


October 15th, 2017 at 4:47 PM ^

Ok, so what’s your point or conclusion here? I mean I can see that we some solid talent coming in and solid young talent on the roster (based on recruiting ranking), but what’s the point?

Am I supposed to be feel better? Worse? I agree, he’s been working with a lot of shit at the position and piecing it all together. If QB is still not in the upper tier in 2019 then we have a serious problem.

Mr. Yost

October 15th, 2017 at 5:04 PM ^

I don't think you're supposed to feel anything...it's just information which may or may not be interesting to you.

I found it interesting.

Personally, I'm not worried about Rudock/Morris/Speight/Malzone/O'Korn...Gentry is a TE so I'm not worried about him either.

But Peters is worrisome. And that's why I think that Balas thread "affected" so many people. Because McCaffrey is a true freshman who needed some time to physically mature...we knew that.

But Peters. There is no reason he shouldn't be starting right now - other than the fact that he's not good enough. And that's a tough realization.

It's still early, but he seemed like someone who could contribute in year 2.

...anyway, this doesn't make me feel anything...but I appreciate the consolidated info into one post.

Mr. Yost

October 15th, 2017 at 6:14 PM ^

No way after this year.

If Speight is your FLOOR. That's fine. I really doubt that is the case or we'd already be seeing Peters or McCaffrey.

But you don't get rid of Sepight. You just hope he at least maintains and comes out of fall camp your #3 QB because McCaffrey and Peters are clearly better. I don't see that happening (see my meaningless post below) - but you keep Speight.

He's likely the starter and if he's not...that's awesome for us. But if he is...at least we know what we're getting and we know we can win football games. No matter how infuriating it may be.

Ghost of Fritz…

October 15th, 2017 at 6:26 PM ^

May or may not be true.  If he has connections, then this was the first time he gave any inside info.

At any rate, Speight is NOT going to get a firm handshake.  That will NOT happen. 

It will not happen because it would be totally stupid.  No proven QB behind Speight for 2018. 

You don't push out a 5th yr senior who won the starting job two years in a row unless you are 100% certain that you have absolute sure things waiting to occupy BOTH the first and second string QB positions.  And even if McCaffrey is a sure thing, Peters is not.

The guy from the other thread stated that Peters would transfer out if Speight is allowed to stay for his 5th year.  Even if true, this will have no effect at all on whether JH allows Speight a 5th year.

First, JH is not the kind of coach that would allow his currently second string QB to give him that sort of ultimatum.  In fact, almost no HC would tolerate that sort of ultimatum. 

Second, even if Peters (Peters' father) is issuing that sort of ultimatum, Peters is obvioulsy not good enough that JH would think about it for even two seconds. 

If Peters were that good he would already be starting. 



Ecky Pting

October 15th, 2017 at 7:32 PM ^

Speight wouldn’t be dropped for the same reason JH went and got Ruddock 2 years ago: game experience. It’s invaluable. To let him go would be foolish, if only for the reason someone else in the B1G might pick him up.

The decline in offense can’t be pinned on Speight. The mostly freshmen receivers are poo-stinky and do nothing to expand their catch radius at this point much establish themselves as dependable targets. Pass pro is also poo-stinky. Our QB’s get hammered on passing downs consistently - that’s why JH went to throwing so much on 1D & 2D v Sparty; and then @ Indy they just packed in the passing game altogether and hitched the wagon to the rushing game come hell or high water.

Thank Football Valhalla for Karan Higdon. So much better than Chris Weber.


October 15th, 2017 at 10:45 PM ^

I would actually say the opposite.

The "Year 3" hole usually shows up as:

-the upper-classmen you inherited graduate

-the cobbled-together 1st recruiting class are now the 'upper-classmen", and supposed to be the contributors--and they are massively underwhelming

-true freshman and true sophomores are asked to step up


Add that to the fact that Hoke's player development/RETENTION at the O-Line was DISASTROUS (yes, i realize it's been beaten to death, but that doesn't make it any less true--disastrous is even an understatement, the o-line retention might be an all-time record in modern football since recruit-ranking begun). Considering all that, everyone's freakout seems like they're just not paying attention to reality.



-The O-line is playing 3 Sophomores, and 2 5th-year seniors

-Losing Newsome truly was a back-breaker, there's no two ways about it.

-Speight was absolutely a "game manager" last year, and pre-Iowa injury was the #1 QB in the BIG in efficiency.

-However, Speight was BIG-TIME aided by his 4th and 5th year players at WR, TE, and RB. In maturity & stability (hence his nerves/erratic play/forcing passes/INTs), getting-open, winning jump balls, pass protection, ability for RBs to break tackles (HOW many times did De'Veon break the first tackle behind the LOS and go for 4+ yards?), and NOT dropping passes (our WR are suspect outside of Perry, right now)

-Speight, or any other QB, simply does not have those weapons any more, and it's showing.

But this is the hole which doesn't show up until ~year 3 from a bottom-out recruiting class, and a down-trending program from the year before the firing.

Not saying it isn't the coaches job to account for it, just that it's not "crazy" for it to happen. And it ISN'T on the QB's as much as it is the team (the team, the team), it just looks like it because they have the ball in their hand when it's happening.

Thus, the get the (undeserved) blame.


October 15th, 2017 at 9:27 PM ^

No way Harbaugh sends Speight away. It'd be stupid to let an experienced guy who is a plausible starter go, even if to keep a decent back up QB. Especially since the presumed starter would be so raw and young.

The bigger concern would be if Speight tries to get to the NFL and isn't a firm front runner to start, does HE take off for a guaranteed starter position somewhere else to show the scouts that he's healthy and can play?

Mr. Yost

October 15th, 2017 at 5:14 PM ^

One more thing to add.

It does make me uneasy about the future.

Because I don't think anyone expects Milton to come in and do anything right away either. So we're back to assuming Speight is going to get healthy and get better for next year. - something he didn't do this year. That seems like it's clearly going to be the best option next season.

So you're left hoping by 2019 Peters will have the light on, McCaffrey will be physically ready, and/or Milton will have a year of QB development. Kevin Doyle is supposed to be the high floor/low ceiling guy...but no one is really banking on him for 2019 either.

It's just a lot more uncertainty than many (like me) anticipated. I for one thought we'd bridge the gap with what we had...this year would be a lot like year 1 with Rudock since it's Speight's 2nd year. Then I thought next year we'd have young guns pushing Speight in his 5th year.

Wishful thinking, I guess.

Ghost of Fritz…

October 15th, 2017 at 6:40 PM ^

First, maybe the chance that the light goes on for Peters as RS soph is hihger than you imagine.  Seems that the things keeping him behind O'Korn are about playbook mastery, attitude, etc.  He can get over those humps by the 2018 season and beat out Speight for the starting job.

Second, maybe Speight would have progressed instead of retrogressed this year if (1) M had not tried to add the Pep 5 wide empty backfield stuff and instead just used the same stuff as in 2016, and (2) the run game had just stuck with power and not tried to install a bunch of zone plays as the base running concept. 

Both of these introduced a bunch new things that a very young o-line and offense had to master, which really messed up the run game, putting Speight in too many 3rd and long passing downs, facing too many blitzes, etc., etc. 




October 15th, 2017 at 7:11 PM ^

You hit the nail on the head with this post. Who knows, maybe we'll look at another grad transfer QB next year. I'm still concerned about the health of Speight. He had a bad shoulder/collar bone injury with surgery in HS, some sort of shoulder injury last year with surgery, and now 3 fractured vertebrae. Even if he comes back and looks great can he hold up for a full season?


October 15th, 2017 at 5:17 PM ^

I honestly didn't have an over-arching point. Saw a comment last night that it was only fair to judge Harbaugh solely on Peters and McCaffery, which made me wonder what has happened to all the QBs the last 3 seasons.

I probably wouldn't go as far as to say that Peters and McCaffery are the only 2 that Harbaugh can be judge on. It is probably fair to throw at least John O'Korn, Wilton Speight, and Alex Malzone into the group as well since Harbaugh has been working with them since they were sophomores/freshmen.


October 15th, 2017 at 4:55 PM ^

Offensive side of the ball was pretty bad under last two years of Hoke. A couple of WRs and a very good TE. May be an OL or two. I think it was a diary or a post where it compared year 3s. Looking at your list, I am remembering that post where it is pretty hard in year 3 for many of the good college coaches. Hoping we would have the success in years to come.


October 15th, 2017 at 9:35 PM ^

That was a good post about hard year 3s. The gist was, the prior coaches usually had OK recruiting classes maybe 2-3 years prior to getting fired. Thus year 1-2 the new coach had upperclassmen who were fairly good recruits now developed. But by year 3 the prior good recruits from the prior coaching regime have graduated or gone to the NFL, the upperclassmen are now the "lost years" of the presumably poorer last 1-2 recruiting classes from the prior coach, and the good recruits from the new coaching regime are as young and raw as hell.


October 15th, 2017 at 4:56 PM ^

I do think part of the QB issue is complexity of offense.  Rudock was pre-med and when it finally clicked for him mid-season he was lights out for balance of 2015.  Coach Harbaugh said in an earlier interview he was not going to "Barney" down the offense. I think the reason that Peters is behind Speight/Okorn is knowledge of offense.

I, like many of you wonder what happen to Malzone.  I mean he is not the prototypical 6'6" QB, but he still seem to have a good arm and good mobility. He has 3 years in system. I know most of us sit here and keep thinking there has to be a better option behind whoever is playing. I firmly believe if there was a better option, that person would be playing.

So, let's just get behind whoever is out there and hope a switch gets flipped and our season continues to show more promise with each passing game.


October 15th, 2017 at 5:07 PM ^

Ok, that's fine as far as it goes... but at some point are we allowed to no longer be satisfied with "hopefully next year's recruit will turn out to be a world beater", or being ten+ point dogs to the cream of the big ten, or heck, not even being at the top of the big ten, period? Fine, enough positives to be patient now, I agree... but what is the threshold for it being ok to demand more?