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Michigan’s an elite QB away from competing at the highest level

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Does Michigan already have an elite QB on the roster?

NCAA Football: Middle Tennessee at Michigan Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

An elite quarterback.

You know them when you see them.

LSU’s Joe Burrow, for example, put him on any team in college football and they’d win a lot more games than they would otherwise. Take Joe Burrow off the LSU roster and that team probably isn’t in the National Championship Game. The difference between having an elite quarterback and a good quarterback makes all the difference in the world.

Elite:

  • The type of player that doesn’t have great physical skills alone, but a high football IQ and ability to beat a defense with astounding pre-snap recognition.
  • A natural born leader, fiery in nature. Holds himself and his teammates accountable at all times, rallies his troops and makes them believe in one another when the chips are stacked against them.
  • Plays his best when the lights are shining the brightest against the top competition.
  • Takes a game over single-handedly against the best teams on the schedule.
  • Can win in a shootout no matter how many points the opposing team puts up.
  • Helps their defense out by putting up a lot of points. This results in the opposing offense trying to keep pace, ultimately committing turnovers.

For the Michigan Wolverines, they’re just one elite quarterback away from competing for Big Ten titles and College Football Playoff appearances.

Will 2020 be the year Michigan has a quarterback that will be a Heisman finalist, a consensus All-American, a quarterback that trades blows with the top competition for four quarters week in and week out?

There’s Dylan McCaffrey, there’s Joe Milton, both players really want to be the starter, but only one of them gets to handle the football. While it remains to be seen who will win the starting job, whoever does has had more than enough time to get acclimated with Michigan’s scheme, their teammates, and the life of a student athlete. Neither will be thrown into the fire, they’ve paid their dues, and now it’s time to let the thoroughbreds out of the stable.

You win and lose as a team, but the position of quarterback will always be the most important in all of football. Take Tom Brady off the Patriots and let the backup run the offense instead, the same with Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson... those teams probably wouldn’t even make the playoffs without them.

Look at some of the quarterbacks who have made the college football playoff in recent years. Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow, Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston... all elite college QBs. No matter how good a defense is, no matter how great an offense is in general besides at QB, it’s hard to win all the games on the schedule without an excellent quarterback.

Michigan definitely has talent on offense, and offensive coordinator Josh Gattis’ scheme and the speed in space tenants therein appear to be effective and dangerous at times. Gattis would love nothing more than to let McCaffrey or Milton loose as passers and runners and put up eye-popping stats in the process. Michigan’s pass-run ratio skewed in favor of the pass in 2019, and with even more effective quarterback play in 2020, that ratio may favor the pass even more.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh has praised McCaffrey and Milton in the past. He loves Milton and how hard of a worker he is, he’s said the same about McCaffrey while also saying he has the “it” factor. The Shea Patterson era is over, it’s now time for the McCaffrey/Milton era. Will one of them take Michigan to places they haven’t been this century?

A slayer of rivals, a momentum maker, not a momentum killer, an ice in the veins level of clutch, this is what Michigan needs at the quarterback position. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron was blessed with Joe Burrow, maybe Jim Harbaugh’s version of Burrow is already on Michigan’s roster.