All Wilton Speight did in the second quarter Saturday against Florida was hit a couple of shots into the water. That’s how Jim Harbaugh viewed the two passes his starting quarterback threw that were intercepted, returned for touchdowns and put Michigan behind, 17-10.
“ Very reminiscent of a golfer, to make a sports analogy, of a golfer that hits one in the water and then takes another one out of his pocket and drops it, shoots for the flag again,” the Michigan coach said Monday. “I thought he showed that.”
Just like Kevin Costner’s character Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy in the movie Tin Cup, Speight kept asking for the ball in the game Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Speight finally hit his shots and helped the Wolverines overcome those mistakes and come back for a 33-17 win.
Harbaugh sat Speight for two series, replacing him with fifth-year senior John O’Korn, to give Speight a chance to settle down. He returned to finish the first half.
Speight then completed 5 of 7 passes for 52 yards, including a well-thrown seam pass for 28 yards to wide receiver Grant Perry, during Michigan’s 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on the first possession of the third quarter. Karan Higdon’s 3-yard touchdown run gave the Wolverines the lead for good, and it re-affirmed Speight’s importance to this team.
Quarterbacks can have the greatest arm strength and throw the prettiest spirals, but if they’re not tough mentally, all those physical skills go for naught.
“ Definitely, if you can’t handle that type of situation when something goes bad, it’s the wrong position to be playing. “So I thought he did very well,” Harbaugh said. “ Sometimes that breaks a guy. Sometimes they can bounce back from it the next game. Sometimes they can bounce back from it in the same game, and sometimes they can’t. Definitely if you can’t, if it affects you to the point that you can’t execute or you’re unwilling therefore to take any chances or risks after that, that’s the sign that you can’t handle that really well. He kept firing.”
Speight will continue as the starting quarterback, Harbaugh said, although O’Korn will get opportunities to play.
That’s playing time O’Korn earned this preseason camp. He completed his only pass attempt against Florida for 37 yards to freshman Tarik Black on a sideline pattern that Black caught in stride, beating his main defender and then holding on when hit hard by the safety who came over to help.
“ Wilton and John both did a very good job this camp competing against each other, and I feel they’re both very capable of leading this team,” said right tackle Nolan Ulizio. “When John came in there, we didn’t skip a beat. We felt the same as when Wilton was in there.”
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