Michigan cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich previews the season opener against Notre Dame. Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — It is preseason camp and if the day ends in “Y” a question more than likely will be posed about the Michigan quarterback situation, no matter what position the interviewee plays or coaches.
So cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich was the latest to be asked his perspective of Michigan’s quarterback competition that involves Shea Patterson, who transferred last December from Ole Miss; Brandon Peters, who started late last season; redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffrey; and freshman Joe Milton.
Zordich began with a laugh before answering.
“They’re different,” he said Wednesday. “Shea is a playmaker with his feet, without a doubt. You can see that. Brandon is more of a pocket passer. Joe Milton has the strongest arm I’ve ever seen on any quarterback, and he’s got great feet. And you’ve got Dylan McCaffrey. He’s got good feet, great athlete. You’ve got four guys and they’re all very talented in their own little niche. That’s an interesting spot.”
He then excused himself from the quarterback conversation.
“And now I’ll go back into my foxhole on my side of the ball, and I’m done,” Zordich said, laughing again.
Offensive lineman Jon Runyan said Monday night the offense has been tweaked, not unexpectedly to take advantage of Patterson’s skillset.
“You’ve got a guy like Shea that can move the pocket, so yeah, it’s definitely tweaked,” Zordich said. “You play different defenses, although (defensive coordinator) Don (Brown) doesn’t change much.
“We’ve done some things different (to defend Patterson). I don’t want to talk about them because of the opponents coming up. We don’t change too much. I’ll just say that.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has been mum on the quarterback competition, saying only that it has been intense. If history is any indication, he won’t name the starter, and will instead wait until the offense is on the field in the opener to show his hand.
So did Zordich possibly share some insight into Michigan’s quarterback situation later when asked about season-opening opponent Notre Dame? It certainly sounded like he was referencing Patterson.
“We’ve been watching a lot of Notre Dame film,” Zordich said. “Two really good receivers. Really good and talented, big tight end. Quarterback, kind of like our guy, great with his feet, good arm, so there’s a challenge. And it’s Notre Dame. Goodness, that’s going to be an exciting day for sure.”
Wealth at tight end
First-year tight ends coach Sherrone Moore inherited a talented group headlined by Sean McKeon and Zach Gentry, but also features Nick Eubanks. Added to the group are freshmen Mustapha Muhammad and Luke Schoonmaker.
With the veterans, Moore has three players who can do it all.
“They can do anything you want,” Moore said Wednesday. “Every single one of them can play out wide, every single one of them can play on the line of scrimmage, be in the backfield. They’re a coach’s dream to be around.”
Moore said they have all improved in blocking facing the “animals” on the defense in practice.
“Both of them (McKeon and Gentry) have ramped up their game,” Moore said. “It helps when you have to block Rashan Gary every day and Khaleke Hudson and Devin Bush and (Noah) Furbush. They take a lot of pride in their blocking, especially when they have to block the animals we have on our front line.”
First-year Michigan tight ends coach talks about how Sean McKeon and Zach Gentry have progressed this offseason. Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
McKeon and Gentry are the most veteran of the group. Moore said that because he is newer to the staff, he went back and watched film from high school of his tight ends. Gentry was a quarterback when he arrived at Michigan.
“I went all the way back to (Gentry) playing basketball in high school,” Moore said. “I like to watch all the guys come out of high school and see how they’ve progressed. It’s funny, they make fun of Sean because they said he ran like a robot, and he might be one of the most fluid guys running routes and doing things now. He’s tough as nails. Watching those guys progress from high school, it’s really been cool to see where they are now.”
Eubanks was injured last season in the Big Ten opener. He’s healthy now and prepared to be a factor at tight end.
“He’s taken a step forward from the spring,” Moore said. “He’s just continued to indulge himself in the playbook. He’s a special athlete. He’s going to be able to do a lot of things that people are really going to enjoy to see.”
Zordich on the overall defense: “Our ones are really good. I don’t hold anything back there. They’re just good. Hopefully we can play together as a group and play consistent football at a high level for 12-plus games, because they’re that good. You’ve seen them all play, and they’re all back. Expectations are high, as they should be.”