By Will Burchfield
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – In Wilton Speight’s first career start for the University of Michigan, he instantly put himself next to one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
“I think Tom Brady and Wilton Speight both threw an interception their first pass of their first start,” Jim Harbaugh told 97.1 The Ticket’s morning show on Thursday.
Harbaugh probably got picked off in his first start, too, he admitted.
“I think most quarterbacks do,” Harbaugh said.
Perhaps that’s why Harbaugh was so supportive of Speight when he came to the sideline after his early miscue. The coach hugged his quarterback and laughed, acknowledging that these sorts of things happen.
Which is just how former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler would have reacted had Harbaugh committed the same sin in his first start, right?
“Probably not,” Harbaugh laughed, “probably not.”
Speight quickly rebounded after the interception, leading Michigan on a 98-yard touchdown drive on its next drive. He finished with three TD passes in the Wolverines 63-3 win over Hawaii.
“It’s like the old golf analogy,” Harbaugh said. “The one where you hit the ball in the water, take one out of your pocket, drop another one and then make the proper shot. So it was definitely better the second time.”
Before Saturday’s game began, Harbaugh was shown pounding on Speight’s chest and shoulders and whacking him on the helmet. It looked like some kind of motivational routine, one that Harbaugh executed with mad-eyed vigor.
But it wasn’t the coach’s idea.
“He’s the one who brought it up, I was thinking about something else,” Harbaugh said. “But I was fired up, he was fired up and it’s good to take a first hit. I always felt that way as a quarterback. Once you get your first hit – usually it takes place in the game – it can get the butterflies out of there, out of the stomach. Nothing does it quite like that first hit you take in a ballgame, but try to replicate that a little bit pregame.”
Harbaugh also addressed the situation between he and ESPN commentator Ed Cunningham, who wrongly speculated on Saturday’s broadcast that Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis had been held out of action for disciplinary reasons. Harbaugh took exception to this, saying on Monday that Cunningham was “over his skis.”
But the two have apparently made up.
We’re good,” Harbaugh confirmed. “Sometimes we all misspeak. So we’re good and Jourdan’s good. We don’t have any player on our team that’s suspended for any reason right now so we can move on.”
The Wolverines will host Central Florida on Saturday in their second game of the season. UCF is coming off a 38-0 win over South Carolina State and Harbaugh acknowledged they will present some new challenges for his team.
“Very athletic team, strong team, physical team. It especially shows on defense, very athletic on offense and the way they run down, the way they cover kicks, I’m very impressed with the way they play special teams. Just the amount of physical, athletic guys that they have throughout their roster will be a step up this week for our football team.”
The game will kick off at noon at the Big House.