I have bad news for some Michigan fans: If Wilton Speight is healthy, he is your starting quarterback.
I am aware that this sentence sends chills down the spines of Michigan fans, but it is the truth, and Wolverines faithful should prepare themselves for this inevitability. It was obvious to many when coach Jim Harbaugh went out of his way to update Speight’s health status during his weekly news conference. He informed the media that Speight is cleared to throw the football but not be hit in practice.
“I think there’s more second opinions to be had,” Harbaugh said. “I know Wilton’s really excited about his most recent CAT scan. Maybe this will sound over the top, but I think some of the doctors are a bit stunned that it’s so far along and he’s healing well. Young guys can do that sometimes. Good blood flow throughout their body. They’re young and healthy, and he’s healing fast.”
If he was not planning to go back to Speight, why update his status at all? It would have been far easier to give the “I only talk about players who are playing” line, but he was laying the groundwork for the eventual return of the guy who won the job in fall camp.
There is one simple reason that Speight, should he be healthy, is the starter: He provides the best chance for Michigan to win this season.
Michigan fans in their most optimistic moment have to understand that while redshirt freshman Brandon Peters is the hope for the future, Wilton Speight is the best chance to win now.
Harbaugh clearly does not yet trust Peters. Although he has shown flashes, the training wheels still clearly are on as he hasn’t been allowed to open up the offense; it appears Harbaugh is nowhere near ready to give Peters the keys to the Corvette.
Face it; Watching Michigan run all over Minnesota was fun. You had to wonder why Peters wasn’t given more of an opportunity to work on the passing game against a bad opponent.
With Peters at quarterback, Michigan is mostly a one-dimensional team. The Wolverines aren’t a serious threat to throw the ball downfield. While that may be fine when you are lining up against Rutgers, Minnesota and Maryland, it most likely won’t get it done when the Badgers and Buckeyes come calling.
Michigan fans will scream that Speight wasn’t getting it done when he was healthy, but Harbaugh and his staff could argue that the running backs, wide receivers and line have improved and that will lead to a better Wilton Speight.
I have to agree. If Speight is ready to go, I am much more confident in Speight slinging the ball around than Peters, who still looks somewhat tentative when he drops back to throw.
Speight has one year of eligibility remaining and he will play again. Michigan fans may not like it, but this is a process and Harbaugh isn’t going to change his philosophy or his mind based on fan feedback or injuries.
Be prepared. If Wilton Speight is healthy, he is Michigan’s starting quarterback.
(You can follow Gregg Henson on Twitter @gregghenson)
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