It was 2004. Michigan quarterback John Navarre had moved on from the team, being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. There was some competition to determine his successor, with five-star recruit Chad Henne coming to Ann Arbor, but heading into the season, everyone thought Matt Gutierrez was primed to be the the next Michigan quarterback.
But then he wasn’t. Gutierrez tore his labrum.Henne started every game that year en route to a record-breaking career with Michigan, while Gutierrez ended up transferring to Idaho State.
Now, 16 years later, the Wolverines are facing a similar situation. Shea Patterson, Michigan’s quarterback the past two seasons, has moved on. Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton are battling for the starting job, and one football analyst and former Wolverine believes there are additional similarities between the two situations.
The difference this time, as Rueben Riley said on the “Inside the Huddle with Michael Spath” podcast, is that the team should be more open to splitting reps heading into the season.
“I think when John Navarre left [after the 2003 season], honestly everybody in that building felt that it was Matt Gutierrez’s job to lose,” Riley was quoted as saying in a Wolverines Digest article. “Gut was an exceptional quarterback as far as being an overall field general. He had an arm talent, mobility. It was his job to lose.
“I can’t quite recall, but I do think that he got the majority of the reps in spring ball, until he went down with a torn labrum [in August practices].
“I think coaches usually do say ‘Hey, we’ve got our guy, we want to see a certain amount of reps for him just to get acclimated and really ready for him to go. But in this situation right here, with McCaffrey and Milton, they’re on an even plane where you’ve got to give them the equal amount of reps.”
McCaffrey does seem like the front runner, and comes into the battle with more experience than the younger Milton. McCaffrey has played in 10 games at Michigan, completing 18-of-35 passes for 242 yards and three scores. He’s also rushed for 166 yards and a score.
Milton, appearing sparingly, has thrown 11 passes over seven games, completing six of them for 117 yards and a touchdown. He’s also thrown two interceptions.
Hudson shows strength at NFL combine
As linebackers working out at the NFL combine go, Khaleke Hudson may be the strongest. The former Wolverine outlifted every other player among his position group, doing 30 reps at 225 pounds.
For context, the combine’s heaviest lifter to this point was former Fresno State lineman Netane Muti, who lifted 225 pounds 44 times.
Five-star quarterback to be at Michigan spring game
J.J. McCarthy, Michigan’s high profile, five-star quarterback recruit in the 2021 class, will be at the Wolverines’ spring game.
McCarthy, speaking with 247Sports recently, said he has been recruiting other players to come with him to Michigan.
“My vibe is to get the big boys up front first because I can’t to my weapons without them,” McCarthy told the website. “I appreciate them more than anything. Definitely, getting (four-star 2021 lineman Rocco Spindler), (four-star 2021 lineman Garrett Dellinger), all these insane, talented linemen in the Midwest and around the country. That’s who I’m looking for right now. Those weapons will come. There’s so many friggin God-given talented athletes in this country. You can put anyone in that offense and it’s going to be crazy.”
The Wolverines’ Spring Game will take place April 20.
- Michigan may have lost to Ohio State Sunday, but Juwan Howard still showed what he could do during pregame warmups. The Wolverines coach sank another no look shot from half court, and the video is making its rounds on social media.
- Michigan State rounded out its coaching staff recently, hiring Kansas State defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton to the same position. He’ll also coach linebackers.