Wilton Speight led the Michigan Wolverines to ten wins in 2016, and started out 2017 with a 33-17 win versus Florida yesterday. While a win is a win, there’s a lot more to read into this specific game. Speight threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. Speight also sprinkled in accurate throws, finishing the day 11-25 for 181 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.
Not everything Speight did in this game was good, as he made a handful of throws that missed his target by a wide margin. However, Speight did complete a couple deep passes that were right on the money and beautiful. His performance was a mixed bag that showed what he’s capable of, and what he needs to work on.
Speight had as rough of a 2nd quarter as you will ever see in the game of football, throwing two consecutive interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. Both throws were high.
After this series of unfortunate events, Harbaugh put in John O’Korn for two series. For the spectators at home and at the game, it seemed as if Speight’s day may be over. That wasn’t the case. Speight came back in, and bounced back.
At the start of the third quarter, Speight found a rhythm, Tallying up short throw completions that were timed well. Michigan marched down the field and scored a touchdown, reclaiming the lead. Michigan never looked back.
Speight made two notable throws in the game that showed off his arm strength. In the first quarter he threw a 46 yard bomb to Tarik Black on the money for a touchdown. And in the fourth quarter an absolutely perfect pass found its way to Nick Eubanks for 48 yards.
The good came with the bad for Wilton in the first game. He knows it. He will look at the film and try to learn from it. He missed wide a couple times on throws that would have been touchdowns if he just kept the ball in the field of play. Speight also, as Harbaugh mentioned, was uncharacteristically throwing balls high. It is good to have the ability to throw with arc as a quarterback, but not every throw requires arc. Speight needs to drive the ball more, throw it on a line.
Speight should be commended for how he bounced back and lead Michigan to victory. But it was far from a perfect performance from Michigan’s starter. The good news is this was the first game, against a good opponent. There’s plenty of time to fine tune the negatives and turn them into positives.
The dust has settled, Michigan won. It’s better to experience growing pains now rather than later. The question that remains is will Speight learn from his mistakes? The Michigan philosophy is all about improving and moving forward. After a film review of the game, Speight will bury this game deep into the depths of his memory, so he can focus on what needs to be done the rest of this season. Not every game is going to be pretty.