Wilton Speight’s Progression Excites Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh

Michigan Wolverines quarterback Wilton Speight continues to impress coach Jim Harbaugh with consistent improvement and hard work.

Wilton Speight didn’t see much action during his redshirt freshman season for Michigan, and when he did, he didn’t exactly impress.

Things have changed quite a bit.

Coach Jim Harbaugh said during Tuesday’s Big Ten media teleconference that he’s been extremely satisfied with Speight’s improvement from last year, when he completed 9 of 25 attempts in limited time over seven games. Through back-to-back blowout wins for the No. 4-ranked Wolverines, Speight has completed 70 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and one interception that came early in the opener against Hawaii.

“I’m tracking his eye discipline, his feet, his accuracy,” Harbaugh said. “I think those things are improving weekly, monthly.”

Michigan has outscored opponents, 114-17, with Speight serving as a driving force behind that potent offense. In last week’s win over UCF, Speight hit Amara Darboh for a 45-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter before they hooked up again for a 30-yard score in the fourth. Speight’s ability to throw the deep ball is something Harbaugh loves to see.

“I’ve been really impressed by (his ability to throw down the field),” Harbaugh said. “He’s been accurate in practice, he’s been accurate in games. The hardest route to hit, in my opinion, is a 40- to 45-yard post route down the middle of the field. Wilton hit two (against UCF), one a touchdown and one got us to the 5-yard line. I’ve been very impressed with his deep-ball accuracy.”

It all goes back to Speight’s work in the offseason that helped him win the starting job, but that doesn’t mean the quarterback can be complacent. He’ll be facing much more disciplined defenses as the season progresses, beginning Saturday at home against a Colorado team that has allowed a total of 124 passing yards while winning both of its games easily. Opposing quarterbacks have completed just 31 of 70 attempts.

Harbaugh is confident Speight is up to the challenge.

“He’s been very good about trying to find something every week to improve on. We’re very diligent in talking about what his next step is, and he’s a great listener and he takes it to the field and just starts working at it.

“The good thing is about Wilton is that his improvements have stuck. Once he takes a step forward or two steps forward he doesn’t take a step back. It’s been good, continual, ascending improvement.”

Michigan Injury Update

Harbaugh still hasn’t said if All-American cornerback Jourdan Lewis will be able to play against Colorado. Lewis was held out of the opener against Hawaii with a nagging injury, then sat against UCF because of a different, undisclosed ailment. A decision on whether Lewis will play likely won’t come until Saturday morning.

It’s also unclear if defensive lineman Taco Charlton will be in uniform. Charlton missed last week’s contest with a left ankle injury.

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