Harbaugh has picked a starting QB but won't reveal it

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Wilton Speight

Ann Arbor – The cat-and-mouse continues.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh knows who will start at quarterback for the seventh-ranked Wolverines when they open the season Saturday against Hawaii, and the quarterbacks have been informed.

But Harbaugh would not share his decision Monday during his game-week news conference. Wilton Speight, John O’Korn and Shane Morris have been competing for the job.

Michigan did not release a depth chart in its 26-page notes package distributed Monday.

“We know who our starting quarterback is, yes,” Harbaugh said. “Yeah, I’ll say who our starting quarterback is for Saturday.”

What about revealing that today, Harbaugh was asked.

“Or to you,” Harbaugh said, referring to the media. “I didn’t say I was going to say it to you before Saturday.”

The Michigan players who attended the news conference did not offer any insight into who has won the competition.

“He doesn’t have a depth chart out yet, so I couldn’t even tell you what’s going on,” said senior cornerback Jourdan Lewis, an All-American last year. “I couldn’t tell you if I’m starting. That’s just the way coach Harbaugh likes it, and you have to follow those rules.

“Really, I don’t know – seriously. Coach Harbaugh definitely keeps everything a secret.”

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Asked if he has a hunch, Lewis hesitated.

“Both of those guys are competing,” he said, referring to Speight and O’Korn.

Tight end Jake Butt, recently voted a co-captain along with Chris Wormley, also said he does not know who will start at quarterback.

“For us it really doesn’t make a difference,” Butt said. “For different teams it might, if you’re looking at a pocket passer versus a dual-threat quarterback. But really, Wilton and John for the most part bring the same style of play to the offense. For us, we’re just focused on doing our jobs. Both are well-equipped for that job. We’re going to do our job and trust they’re going to do their job. That’s kind of what this offense is built on.”

John O'Korn

Speight had the slight edge over O’Korn after spring practice. Speight was the backup last season to Jake Rudock and led Michigan to the go-ahead touchdown at Minnesota after Rudock left the game with an injury. Morris has two career starts at Michigan and sat out last season for a redshirt. O’Korn started as a freshman at Houston and was the American Athletic Conference rookie of the year and started part of his sophomore year before transferring to Michigan. He sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules and led the scout team.

“It’s been very good, really from Day 1 – the competition at the quarterback position and the play at the quarterback position has been very good,” Harbaugh said. “I feel like it’s been improving, as well, daily, weekly. All the quarterbacks are playing at a very high level.”

Harbaugh has said all along he and his staff would chart every aspect of the quarterbacks’ games.

“All the guys haven’t played in the games in terms of game experience a whole lot,” Harbaugh said. “Each has game experience. We want to see the things that would really translate to the game, in terms of moving the team, moving the offense, putting drives together, making first downs, converting third downs, getting the team into the end zone, avoiding the turnovers and mistakes that hurt drives and keep points off the board. That’s been the major criteria. We’ve looked at everything, but that above all on the list has been what we’ve been trying to evaluate in the practices.

“They’re all getting better and doing everything we’ve asked. They have a great understanding of the offense and what they need to do to be successful.”