Michigan played with poise, smarts, and developed an identity in their 63-3 win over Hawaii on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.
With Wilton Speight officially getting the start at quarterback, the Wolverines powered by the Rainbow Warriors thanks to the passing of Speight, running by Chris Evans, and the tenacious, Don Brown-led defense that only allowed 232 total yards.
Drama surrounding the quarterback position that had started immediately after the bowl win over Florida in January seemed to peak in the summer months, but died down as fall camp went on and Speight showed why he had the lead after the spring game on April 1.
“I don’t really remember a date that I was named the starter. I finished spring ball on top. I was told going into camp that I would start there and it was my job to lose. I made sure to stay there. I didn’t really worry about them (coaching staff) naming me the starter,” Speight said.
Channing Stribling and Delano Hill helped the cause as they both returned interceptions for touchdowns. This is the first game Michigan had two pick-sixes in a game since 1999.
“The secondary play was outstanding. The coverage was tight. Two interceptions for touchdowns, you don’t see that very often. I don’t think I’ve been a part of that in a game except for just once. That was really impressive. I thought they were communicating well in the back end, and again, they were really right with their eyes and their feet in the secondary all day,” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said.
Speight was steady in leading the offense. After a rocky start, throwing an interception on his first play, Speight settled down. He finished going 10-of-13 for 145 yards.
Speight piloted a 98-yard drive following the interception. The drive was capped by a 12-yard Grant Perry touchdown, thrown by Speight into the corner of the endzone.
“As good of corner throw to Grant Perry. It could not be thrown any better,” Harbaugh said. “It bodes really well for his (Speight’s) career to do that after an interception. Now he knows he can do it.”
“I knew the game plan front and back. Once I hit the first completion, to Jehu (Chesson) on that slant, I felt completely settled in like a weight was lifted off my shoulders,” Speight said.
Evans helped Speight’s offensive performance by taking pressure off in the running game. Evans rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns- from 18 and 43 yards, respectively.
“For me, it didn’t surprise me at all. I go against him every day. I kind of expected it to happen,” linebacker Mike McCray said.
“I didn’t really know much about him. I just knew he was from Indiana. After two days of training camp, we all knew who Chris Evans was. The best part about it is he doesn’t let anything get to his head and goes about his business,” Speight said.
Harbaugh’s self-proclaimed ‘Submarine Mode’ training camp showed against Hawaii. The Wolverines racked up 306 rushing yards, 206 passing yards (Speight, John O’Korn, and Shane Morris combined to go 17-of-20 passing), 26 first downs, and 512 total offensive yards.
“It hit me Thursday or Friday that our coaches have worked this group of players as hard as you possibly can. Our players worked themselves as hard as you possibly can. I thought it would be good and it was. I thought our team played really well,” Harbaugh said.
On the flip side, Hawaii quarterbacks Ikaika Woolsey and Dru Brown combined to throw 12-of-23 for 151 yards. Five Rainbow Warrior running backs combined to rush for 56 yards.
Michigan hosts Central Florida at noon next Saturday.
Photo Credit: Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog