The University of Michigan football program has long been one of the traditional powerhouse of college football. There are few scenic backdrops in football like that of Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the fall. It’s a shine that lends itself nicely to the prestige of tradition there. However, the luster of being the Wolverine’s starting quarterback has begun to lose some of its shine lately.
As the Wolverines try to maintain relevance in a competitive Big 10 arms race, the recent QB play has left much to be desired. Everyone knows U-M alum Tom Brady for his six Super Bowl wins with the New England Patriots. Current head coach Jim Harbaugh rose to fame at U-M as an accomplished QB. And before he spent 11 seasons in the NFL, Brian Griese was a fairly accomplished pivot in his own right. The lineage of signal-callers from Big Blue is as illustrious as they come.
A four-star quarterback in high school, Dylan McCaffrey is the latest in a prestigious lineage of growing football royalty. His father, Ed McCaffrey, played as a wide receiver in the NFL for 13 seasons. Older brother Max attended Duke as a wide receiver. You might know Christian McCaffrey, who starred at Stanford as a running back and now turns heads as an All-Pro running back for the Carolina Panthers. Younger brother Luke has joined Dylan as another McCaffrey quarterback, hoping to win the starting job at Big 10 rival Nebraska.
You can see the family resemblance in Dylan’s game from some of his previous appearances. McCaffrey looks like a natural sprinting out of the pocket on zone reads and showing good accuracy on short and intermediate throws. Primarily lining up in shotgun formation, McCaffrey has great vision from the pocket and wastes little time making decisions on throws. Opposing defenses have to honor him as a threat who will keep the ball and make plays with his legs. The soon-to-be-senior shows no reservations about fitting balls to receivers on the outside numbers or inside the hashes. Dylan McCaffrey has all the abilities to be a breakout star in 2020.
The biggest weakness for McCaffrey in seasons past has been his availability. He suffered a reported concussion against Wisconsin in 2019. In 2018, a broken collarbone ended his season prematurely as well. These setbacks may have prevented the Colorado native from competing for the starting job. Most of his appearances came in brief glimpses, with games already decided. Vying for the starting quarterback job, Dylan will be asked to power Michigan’s offense towards Top 50 relevancy in 2020.
Lets face it, Michigan needs on-field leadership now more than ever. The last time the Wolverines beat their rival Ohio State, the iPhone 4S was the latest and greatest thing. Michigan has tried to change its fortunes in recent seasons. The hire of Josh Gattis in 2019 as offensive coordinator earned an uptick in improvement for the offense. The Wolverines improved their passing offense to 250.8 yards-per-game from a woeful 215.7 ypg (80th in the country) in 2018. Those numbers mean little if the Big Blue can’t end their losing skid against the Buckeyes.
For that to happen, they’ll need Dylan McCaffrey to fulfil his potential in what could be his final opportunity. Fans have made the case for the QB prodigy to contend for the starting position in the past. Now, with graduation approaching, McCaffrey needs to grip the steering wheel and drive Michigan’s offense into the end zone. As much as football is a team sport, you can’t play the game without a quarterback. This season, Michigan hopes that Dylan McCaffrey is ready for the hot seat.