ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Relatively speaking, Michigan passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch was more than satisfied with his team’s mini-barrage of Hawaii this past Saturday.
A quick 206 yards, three touchdowns and the completion of 17 of 20 attempts will do that for a coach.
Quarterback play, courtesy of first-time starter Wilton Speight, made the grade. Receivers? Those guys did pretty well too. No major complaints on Fisch’s end.
That said, the Wolverines didn’t exactly open up the entire playbook versus the Rainbow Warriors. Throwing the ball downfield time after time would have been disrespectful to the competition, Fisch said during an availability session Wednesday at Schembechler Hall. There was no reason to display all kinds of different looks while leading 38-0 at halftime.
“I think the nature of the game, at the point, we didn’t have to throw the ball downfield,” said Fisch, who’s in his second year at Michigan. “I don’t know what that would have really done for us — or for anybody — to just start launching balls with the score the way the score was.
“We just moved the chains. We thought that was important. Move the chains, stay on the field, see if we could convert third downs.”
That conservative approach won’t be the case for the rest of the year, though — Fisch has big plans for the Wolverines’ passing offense when it’s time to tangle with Big Ten foes.
Seniors Jake Butt (tight end) and Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson (on the wings) found their strides versus Hawaii. They should all continue to rise each week, and undoubtedly become Speight’s top targets.
However, Fisch also has two incredibly gifted freshmen who got their feet wet during the season opener. This past Saturday, Eddie McDoom and Kekoa Crawford dipped their toes into the water and swam laps by day’s end.
McDoom had two catches for 15 yards and two rushes for 34 yards. Crawford contributed with an 18-yard reception.
At 6-foot and 180 pounds, McDoom, a former Oregon commit, has a set of turbo wheels made for massive yardage. He’s quick off the draw and has the makings of a lightning-strike offensive weapon. At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Crawford has the larger frame made for jump balls and downfield attacks.
Soon, they’ll be ready to dive head-first into the thick of it all. But not too soon — Fisch doesn’t want to rush things. They have potential, but they’re still young. Right now, it’s all about finding a proper balance, unearthing ways to comfortably fit them into the puzzle.
“Sure, you’ve got to look into that. You know, we don’t need to overwhelm them, and I think that’s part of the whole process of game-planning and the whole process of trying to figure out what’s best for those guys,” Fisch said. “You know, give guys packages — give them certain things to really focus in on.
“While they’re focusing on the smaller packages, they have to, you know, absorb the whole thing. That’s what the younger guys are doing.”
They’ve picked up on the playbook. They’ve learned the schemes, too. As time progresses, they’ll continue to fine-tune the ins and outs of Fisch’s passing game.
One year ago, true freshman Grant Perry rolled onto the scene as a viable option… thanks to early playing time. With stocks of freshmen — the product of premier recruiting — this could become an annual thing for the Wolverines. Go ahead and start casting predictions for next year’s group of true freshmen receivers — there’s a good chance one of them could be in a similar position as McDoom and Crawford.
Are these two freshmen a cut above the rest? Are they uniquely ready to shoulder more responsibilities? Like the rest of Harbaugh’s staff, Fisch doesn’t like to measure one player against another. Instead, he chooses to view each receiver on an individual basis.
“I don’t know (how much more able) in comparison to anyone,” Fisch said about McDoom and Crawford. “But I think that those two guys can definitely handle a good workload and are doing a good job for us.”