There was a lot of buzz this offseason surrounding Ann Arbor and the opportunity that lay ahead for the Michigan Wolverine’s football squad. The buzz wasn’t hushed at all, as Jim Harbaugh and crew turned it up a few notches after a 60 point victory in week one. Not only did Michigan win in convincing fashion last week, they also jumped up two spots in the AP Poll, and entered the top 5 for the first time since 2007.
The Wolverines entered this Saturday’s contest against UCF as 35 point favorites, and they surely didn’t disappoint. Michigan started off slow, but thanks to a few big plays from their punt return team, they started with tremendous field position. Sophomore safety, Tyree Kinnel, was able to slip through the offensive line, and lay a hand on the first two UCF punt attempts. It took the Wolverines nearly seven minutes to get the offense rolling, before Wilton Speight would connect with Jake Butt for a 3-yard touchdown pass. The Knights would get the ball back, and drive down the field, 42 yards in 8 plays, only to be slowed down by the stout Wolverine defense. Central Florida attempted a 50-yard field goal—that would’ve brought the Knights within 4, but Wolverine defensive standout, Chris Wormley, rejected the field goal attempt. Michigan took over on downs and didn’t look back, as they were able to score on their next five drives, taking a 27-point lead into the half.
Michigan came out in the second half and scored on its very first possession with a seven play, 66-yard drive, capped off with a 1-yard Khalid Hill rushing touchdown. Michigan, up 41-7, would kickoff, only to recover a fumble at the UCF 17-yard line—setting up a 37-yard Kenny Allen field goal. Michigan dominated throughout, ultimately winning the game 51-14.
The Wolverines have now outscored its opponents 114-17 through the first two contests. Michigan had a lot of big plays on Saturday, and a lot of contributing players. However, there are a few players that stuck out to me, so let’s see who today’s “Harbaugh’s Heroes” are.
Wilton Speight, Junior, Quarterback
Last week the Wolverines entered play with a question mark at quarterback. Would it be Wilton Speight, or senior transfer John O’Korn? Obviously we now know the answer to that, as coach Harbaugh chose Speight to lead the troops.
This week, there was no question who the leader of the offense would be. Michigan’s offense started slow, as it was forced to punt on its first drive. It didn’t take long for the Wolverines to get going though, as Speight found Jake Butt on a 3-yard pitch and catch score. Speight would later tack on three more touchdown passes, finishing with 312 yards on 25-37 attempts.
Speight has looked good to me through the first two games. Today there were multiple times he was pressured, but he stood tall in the pocket and completed the pass downfield. I thought the offensive line played a pretty poor game altogether (Michigan was held to just 119 rushing yards, and the Knights forced 2 sacks), and Speight was forced into some tough situations. There were numerous times that he was forced to roll out of the pocket, but he showed great poise as he calmly found a receiver, or simply tossed the ball out of bounds to avoid a sack. I like the maturity he has shown in his first few outings, and I look forward to another great game next week.
Amara Darboh, Senior, Receiver
Amara hauled in five catches for 111 yards Saturday—including a 45-yard bomb—good for a touchdown late in the 1st quarter. He showed his great speed all afternoon, and I’m pretty sure anytime they wanted to, the Wolverines could have run a “go route” and connected for a big gain. Darboh’s other touchdown came in the 4th quarter on a 30-yard pass from Wilton Speight.
Darboh has shown great speed and great hands over the past few years. He seems to be picking up right where he left off last season. I am really looking for a huge year out of the senior wideout. If he can stay healthy, there is no reason he shouldn’t be in the Big Ten Wide Receiver of the Year at seasons end.
Jake Butt, Senior, Tight End
There was a ton of talk in the off season about senior tight end, Jake Butt, and rightfully so. Butt finished last year’s campaign with 51 receptions, 654 yards, and three touchdowns. He was named the Big Ten tight end of the year, as well as first team Big Ten, and first team All-American last fall.
Butt ended Saturdays contest with seven receptions for 86 yards and two touchdowns. There were however, a few times where Butt, for whatever reason, dropped a few passes. This is very uncharacteristic of him, as he had only a handful of drops in his career leading up to this game. There is no question that when given the opportunity, Jake Butt is one of the best receiving options in the Big Ten, and possibly the country. With his big game on Saturday, Butt is now up to eight receptions, 105 yards and 3 touchdowns (which ties his touchdown mark from last season). Butt is another Wolverine set for a huge season.
Tyree Kinnel: Two blocked punts
Chris Wormley: Two blocked field goals
Who do you think were “Harbaugh’s Heroes” this week? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or by email. Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter @craigcompton_!