One of the biggest issues Michigan football has battled in the Jim Harbaugh era has been the lack of a game-changing quarterback. Watch out, Big Ten: Michigan may have that issue resolved in 2020.
Joe Milton (seen above) made his debut as Michigan’s starting quarterback on Saturday night as the Wolverines traveled to Minnesota for a Big Ten opener in primetime. Michigan opened the season with a statement in the form of a 49-24 victory against a Gophers squad widely expected to be in the mix for the Big Ten West Division in 2020. And while Milton didn’t have quite the debut as Wisconsin’s Graham Mertz on Friday night or match the efficiency Ohio State’s Justin Fields demonstrated earlier in the day, he did give Michigan fans plenty of reason to believe maybe, just maybe, this year could be different for the Wolverines.
Milton completed 15 of 22 passing attempts for 225 yards and a touchdown (an eight-yard pass to Ben Mason), and he added to the team effort in the rushing department. He ran eight times for 52 yards and a touchdown as the Wolverines overpowered a good Minnesota team.
Passing TD ✅
Rushing TD ✅
Joe Milton (@Qbjayy7) is looking good in his first @UMichFootball start. pic.twitter.com/ifGC8Q4EJP
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) October 25, 2020
Joe Milton does not seem like a guy in his first start
— mgoblog (@mgoblog) October 25, 2020
For a guy that has drawn some comparisons to former Auburn Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton, it may not have been a surprise to see some similar play-calling at work.
Michigan is running some of the exact same designed runs for Joe Milton that the Patriots have run with Cam Newton this year.
The brothers, Michigan QB coach Ben McDaniels and Pats OC Josh McDaniels, surely had some conversations.
— Clayton Sayfie (@CSayf23) October 25, 2020
One of the biggest questions facing Michigan was the ability of the offense to take its next step. If the first game of the season was any indication, offensive coordinator Josh Gattis could have this offense ready to hum.
Josh Gattis' offense has been really impressive. His gifted young QB Joe Milton has backed up the hype tonight. #Michigan's averaging a gaudy 9.4 yards per carry and 9 yards per play. Wolverines also have scored five TDs in six Red Zone trips. Not bad.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) October 25, 2020
I don't know what happens with Joe Milton the rest of the season, but Michigan's offense looks way more under control and confident than it did in the first half of last season.
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) October 25, 2020
It was just one game, but it was a heck of an inspiring game for Michigan. Now, the big challenge will be to prove this was not a fluke. Michigan will have a good chance to keep this rolling next week when Michigan State comes to Ann Arbor. The Spartans lost their season opener at home to Rutgers.