Michigan 'nowhere near to having a front-runner' at quarterback

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

With a spring practice, perhaps Michigan’s quarterback competition would be clearer at this point. But since the Wolverines never got in a practice because college sports activities were suspended two months ago in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains fuzzy.

This we know – Dylan McCaffrey, the backup to starter Shea Patterson last season, Joe Milton and Cade McNamara are competing for the starting job.

Joe Milton

But in offensive coordinator Josh Gattis’ view, the Wolverines are “nowhere near to having a front-runner” at quarterback.

Gattis met with reporters Thursday via Zoom to discuss a number of topics regarding the Michigan offense, including replacing four starters on the line — he said Michigan could be more athletic up front. But the quarterback competition is front and center.

There is no timetable when college football will resume, so for now, Gattis and his players will continue to hold virtual meetings. He said they have one install per week, and the players are on their own working out.

“We got to get the reps, we got to get the battle going to figure out who’s going to be our quarterback,” Gattis said. “They’re all even. They’re all dead even. There’s nobody out front, there’s nobody left behind. Each guy is different. Each guy has a different strength and a different weakness than the other guys, and so it’s a really interesting battle because we’ve got to be able to decide who’s going to give us the best opportunity to win games.

“I think all three can gives us opportunities to win games. We’re just going to have to catch them up. No guy’s out front, no guy’s behind. There is no order. It’s not based on last year. It’s not based on depth chart last year. Those things are not important. What the depth chart last year was, was irrelevant because we had one quarterback who was our starter. So it doesn’t matter who was listed as a 2, it doesn’t matter who was listed as a 3. Shea Patterson was our quarterback.

"When you’re getting into what the listings are of backup guys, that’s totally irrelevant into this battle moving forward this year. Now we’ve just got to be able to get the battle going back once we get back.”

Dylan McCaffrey

McCaffrey has the most game experience. Last year he was 10-of-20 for 116 yards and one touchdown, while Milton was 3-of-7 for 59 yards and a touchdowns.

Gattis said all three quarterbacks are emerging as leaders.

“They’re all three doing great,” he said. “They’re all three skyrocketing from a leadership standpoint, so that’s what’s exciting is now. What else involves a quarterback? The DNA, the leadership, the mental aspects. (Quarterbacks) coach (Ben) McDaniels has done a really good job developing those guys along in that area. We’re excited about where we are, the number of pieces we have.

“We’re in no rush to make a decision. If it takes us however long it’s going to take us to make that decision, that’s how long it’s going to take us, and we’ll make the best decision to give our team the opportunity to win.”