McCaffrey draws praise for prepping UM's defense

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Freshman quarterback Dylan McCaffrey runs Michigan's scout team offense at practice.

Ann Arbor — While all the talk involving Michigan football this week has focused on redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Peters, defensive coordinator Don Brown drew a bit of attention to freshman Dylan McCaffrey, who runs the scout team offense.

Brown, during his Wednesday media availability, explained how Michigan’s defense gets better because of the scout team and singled out McCaffrey.

“Our scout team without question with Dylan McCaffrey at the helm, they go now,” Brown said. “It’s next door to what you want on a Saturday. In terms of giving us a chance from a preparation standpoint, all those things are in place. It’s a good deal.

“This guy (McCaffrey), it’s like his business to get us ready to play. That’s his business, and he doesn’t approach it like, ‘Ah, ya know, jeez I’m down here and I’ve got to do this.’ There’s none of that. There’s a couple plays yesterday where he has to recenter the tight end, recenter the back and then run this specific scheme. I swear it was the quarterback from Minnesota doing it, because he did it exactly the same way. Our guys got ‘em watching a little tape there, but then to come out and actually do it the same way, it gives you a chance. And that’s really what you’re looking for.”

Pep Hamilton, Michigan’s pass-game coordinator, credited, in part, McCaffrey’s “football pedigree.” His father is former NFL receiver Ed McCaffrey, and his brother, Christian, is a running back with the Carolina Panthers and was a Heisman Trophy finalist at Stanford.

More: UM's Harbaugh prefers 16-team playoff format

More: Hamilton: Attrition, inconsistency hindering UM's offense

“Football is important to him,” Hamilton said. “He has really good football instincts in that regard also as far as having an understanding of what the defense is trying to do to him. And with Don’s defense, it’s real simple  they’re trying to hit the quarterback. But he’s responded well running our scout team. It’s not as hard as it would be if he was playing in an actual game because the difference is we’re holding up a card and saying, ‘Hey, throw the ball to this guy.’ It’s still not easy to go out and do that. He’s responded well in the situations we’ve put him in.”

Brown said McCaffrey and Alex Malzone have been vital in preparing the defense this year and called running the scout offense McCaffrey’s “world.”

“When a guy takes it upon himself like that, he takes the whole group with him and that gives us a chance to have a quality practice,” Brown said. “You don’t realize how important that is until at the end of practice you go, ‘Wow, that was really a quality practice. We got a lot of work done.’ And it gives you a chance."

Brown was asked how rare that is for a freshman quarterback.

“Pretty rare. This is a special guy, now. I see him in the building all the time. And I’m not making a case …,” Brown broke off laughing. “I’m just saying from our standpoint, to get ready, it’s nice when you have a scout team that committed to the defense. They don’t have to be. It could be ‘Oh here I am. I’m down here, boom, take my steps.’ But these guys take it serious, and they help us get ready to play on Saturdays. And he spearheads it. So that’s a good thing.”