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College Football: Michigan Wolverines Quarterback Wilton Speight With Room to Grow
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11 Sep 2017 04:22 PM EST

-by Bo Marchionte, Contributing Writer; Image: Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight attempts pass against Cincinnati. (Image Source: Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Ann Arbor, MI—The skies above Ann Arbor, Michigan welcomed a crowd of over 111,000 strong to a perfect fall preview, as the early morning chill gave way to the warmth of a midday afternoon in the Big House. Except instead of autumn colors this change of the season was all Maize & Blue.

Nearly 12 minutes still remained in the first quarter when Michigan Wolverines quarterback Wilton Speight ran towards the end zone to congratulate sophomore wide out Kekoa Crawford after they connected on a 43-yard touchdown pass. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound native of Richmond, Virginia looks like a classic pocket passer and was named the Wolverines 2016 Most Improved Player by the Michigan coaching staff. Heading into his second year as the starter, Speight has the Maize & Blue fan base eager for more.

After two games this season, he has completed 28 of 54 pass attempts for 402 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. Against the Cincinnati Bearcats, his 14th career start, Speight had more issues it appeared with handoffs and snaps than delivering the football downfield.

Speight passed both Drew Henson (15th) and John Wrangler (14th) on the all-time passing list with Jake Rudock (12th) in his sights, only seven yards away.

His ability to protect the football has been a slight concern during UM’s 2-0. Last week, against the Florida Gators he threw two interceptions and against the Bearcats, Speight had trouble with handling the football.

“I told him it was a matter of time before it slipped out,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said after the teams 36-14 victory. “He could be better with the ball.”

Speight addressed another issue, explaining that he must do a better job of delivering the football when he is moving around in the pocket to avoid pressure.

“When I move around in the pocket I get sloppy with my feet,” Speight explained before he added that “the balls sails” on him at times.

On more than one occasion Speight has the opportunity hit the open target but the football was off the mark. He may get away with those miscues against a Cincinnati Bearcats teams that came in as a great than 30-point underdogs, but against a higher-level opponent it could cost the team dearly.

In all fairness to Speight this is only his 14th career start at quarterback, which barely covers a full college season for some teams.

“Definitely slowing down with each game,” Speight said of gaining experiencing and process information on the field. “Windows are opening up.”

His head coach still has confidence in the junior passer.

“He’s is going to hit most of them,” Harbaugh said in regards to Speight’s pass completion rate.

One disturbing things for the Wolverines offense was his lack of consistently getting the ball down field.

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