Michigan waited until the first snap of the season to reveal its starting quarterback last fall, and it doesn’t appear the team is in a hurry to make a decision any sooner this time around.
“We’re in no rush,” passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch said Tuesday night when asked when he wanted to settle this spring’s quarterback competition. “One of them will need to find a way to put us in a rush by taking the job.”
The two top candidates this season in Ann Arbor are redshirt juniors John O’Korn and Shane Morris. Fisch said both were doing well through the first three weeks of spring drills, but both were still getting an equal amount of reps along with the rest of the quarterback group.
O’Korn sat out last season per NCAA rules after transferring from Houston, where he was the American Athletic Conference’s freshman of the year in 2013 before losing his job the following season. Fisch said he’d like to see the former Cougar play more confidently before he's handed the reins to the offense.
“[He needs to] feel confident. Say, ‘Hey, I can go out there and throw that ball. I can step up and make that play,’” Fisch said. “Let loose. He’s doing a really nice job though. They all are.”
Morris saw the field in each of his first two seasons in Ann Arbor but preserved a year of eligibility by watching from the sideline after falling behind Jake Rudock in last year’s quarterback competition. Morris, an in-state lefty, has been known for his arm strength since becoming a Wolverine. This spring he’s working on learning when to use all his firepower and when to add a little more touch to his throws.
“He has to understand throw selection,” Fisch said. "'On this throw it’s more of a trajectory. On this throw it’s more of a line drive. On this throw I have to change my arm slot.'"
Fisch said he expects all his quarterbacks – a list that also includes redshirt sophomore Wilton Speight, redshirt freshman Alex Malzone and early enrollee Brandon Peters – to work on developing more chemistry with their receivers throughout the summer. Most of the work that will eventually separate a starter from the pack, he said, will come away from coaching supervision during extra film sessions or time on the practice field.
All of them, Fisch said, would be well served to follow the example set by the last Michigan quarterback to win the starting job. Rudock, a graduate transfer from Iowa, arrived in Ann Arbor last June and took a leadership position over the summer before beating out Morris and the rest of the roster to take the first snaps against Utah last September.
“Model yourself after Jake and good things will come,” Fisch said. “Model yourself after the way Jake walked into this building in everything you do.”
Michigan’s coaches may have known in early August that Rudock was going to be the starter, but the outside world didn’t learn he was the guy until the Wolverines offense took the field to start the 2015 season. Fisch didn’t say that the staff would definitely keep the depth chart under wraps again this season, but he said it was definitely a possibility.