Dylan McCaffrey, Joe Milton to make Michigan quarterback battle 'interesting'
There are several holes on offense for Michigan as spring practice begins in less than two weeks, and while replacing four starters on the offensive line is legitimately daunting, nothing will be bigger than the competition at quarterback.
With Shea Patterson, who started the last two seasons, moving on to prepare for the NFL Draft, Dylan McCaffrey, the backup last season, and Joe Milton are the primary contenders. Cade McNamara, who didn’t play last season as a freshman, also will be part of the mix.
Patterson was asked last week at the NFL Combine what he thinks of the upcoming quarterback competition at Michigan.
“Three great kids,” Patterson said during his media session in Indianapolis. “I had the pleasure to learn with them every single day. It was such a fun quarterback room. It’s going to be interesting. Dylan is a smart kid, fast and knows the offense really well. He’s a great leader as well. He practices hard as heck.
“And Joe is also an ultra-talented kid. He’s one of my best friends when I was up there. So I’m looking forward to watching that competition go. And Cade, he’s a very talented kid and he has a lot of time to grow and I think he can be a very good one, as well. It’s going to be interesting. Coach (Ben) McDaniels is going to get those guys right and ready to compete.”
McCaffrey, listed at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds in last season’s roster, played in seven games and was 10-of-20 for 116 yards and a touchdown. He suffered a concussion in the Big Ten opener at Wisconsin. Milton is 6-5, 245 pounds and played in four games last season. He was 3-of-7 for 59 yards and one touchdown and one interception.
Milton is known for his rocket arm, and McCaffrey is quick and likes to run — he had 13 carries last season for 67 yards and a touchdown. Milton said before the Citrus Bowl that he learned a lot from Patterson the last two years and said he has borrowed from his game
“Joe’s a curious guy and also a very hard worker,” Patterson said. “He’s so talented. I couldn’t really teach him how to throw the ball because he’s so gifted, but in terms of understanding the offense and the reason we do things even if it’s just drawing up plays for him, any way I could help him is what I did.”
Cornerback Lavert Hill, who also participated in the combine, gave reporters his impression of the two quarterbacks, having seen both of them plenty in practice.
“McCaffrey and Joe are real different,” Hill said. “McCaffrey is real fast. He's one of the fastest on the team. Joe, he can probably throw 70 yards on his knees, so he got a good strong arm.
“But they're both great quarterbacks, and y'all are going to see how that battle's going to be headed into the season and who wins the job, so it's going to be fun.”