MINNEAPOLIS — Jim Harbaugh is a person of many phrases.
And Saturday night time, he had a brand new one to explain the play of his new beginning quarterback in No. 17 Michigan soccer‘s 49-24 win at No. 21 Minnesota.
“He was cool as a cucumber,” Harbaugh mentioned.
Harbaugh’s phrases weren’t an exaggeration.
Joe Milton was regular within the first begin of his profession, if not spectacular.
He hadn’t performed a lot significant soccer earlier than Saturday’s season opener in opposition to the Golden Gophers. However he performed like a veteran in main the Wolverines to their blowout win, finishing 15 of twenty-two passes for 225 yards and one landing and dashing eight occasions for 52 yards and one other TD.
“Inform you what, he dealt with the whole lot with aplomb,” Harbaugh mentioned. “His accuracy within the passing sport, actual command of the offense and he ran with the soccer with authority and had nice ball safety. Actually performed an impressive sport.”
Apart from the primary drive, which stalled after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from Ben Mason, Milton led the Wolverines to 9 consecutive scoring alternatives earlier than being substituted for backup Cade McNamara late within the fourth quarter.
Michigan’s offense leaned closely on a run sport that at one level averaged 9.4 yards per carry and completed with 256 yards and 5 touchdowns. However that did not imply the Wolverines handcuffed Milton. They requested him to throw, early and comparatively usually, and relied on him within the run sport. And Milton delivered.
For a quarterback who had tried simply 11 passes getting into Saturday, the outcomes have been considerably surprising.
He performed sound soccer and did not make any expensive errors. He stood tall within the pocket and hit open receivers. He did not drive throws into tight home windows. And he was efficient as a runner, together with on a 23-yard burst on third-and-2 within the second quarter and through a number of different high-leverage or short-yardage conditions all through the sport.
“He had a terrific sport,” Harbaugh mentioned. “…It performed out loads the best way I believed it could for him. He’s an intense competitor but in addition obtained that means to focus in and the calmness on the similar time, each issues working collectively.”
Over the previous two seasons, the Wolverines have praised Milton’s bodily talents as he sat buried on the depth chart. His arm energy, coaches and gamers have mentioned, was unparalleled. He simply needed to easy out the rougher edges of his sport and enhance his contact and accuracy.
Milton spent a lot of his time engaged on these facets of his sport. And after the beginning job opened up this offseason, he took the whole lot up a notch or two. He sought an even bigger management position (after taking management programs). He discovered quarterback coaches to work with on his personal time for the primary time in his life.
By the point Harbaugh known as Milton into the workplace to inform him he was the beginning quarterback, Milton was unsurprised. He had already identified he would win the job primarily based on the variety of reps he was taking in follow.
“I kinda knew some time again,” Milton mentioned.
And he wasn’t shocked by his efficiency Saturday.
“I felt nice. I used to be snug,” Milton mentioned. “I didn’t panic. As a primary begin, I wasn’t scared. I at all times say to myself, ‘Concern God, religion over worry.’ My contact tonight was fairly excellent. I used to be fairly impressed with myself. I’ve been engaged on that a very long time.”
Harbaugh backed up Milton’s evaluation. He mentioned Milton went by means of his reads “extraordinarily effectively,” with just one miss that Harbaugh may consider.
“He was on course all night time and performed with the poise of a savvy veteran,” Harbaugh mentioned. “Had a terrific command of the offense. Ran the ball with authority and athleticism and velocity and nice ball safety.”
Quarterback is crucial place on the sphere, and it is what separates school soccer’s elites from everybody else. It is no coincidence that Michigan has struggled to interrupt by means of underneath Harbaugh, who getting into Yr Six has but to search out the typic of dynamic expertise underneath middle that can enable the Wolverines to maintain tempo with the very best applications within the nation, notably Ohio State.
It’s miles too early to say if Milton will ever have the opportunity that sort of quarterback for Michigan. .
However in a single begin, he confirmed the Wolverines have somebody who can deal with the highlight, after outplaying Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan, who had the Large Ten’s second-best passer score in 2019.
“You realize he’s gonna do his factor,” mentioned working again Hassan Haskins. “In order that’s why we obtained all our belief in him, you are feeling me. We all know he’s gonna do his job.”
Within the hours earlier than Saturday’s sport, Milton saved his feelings in verify. His headphones, which blasted music as he warmed up on the sphere, helped him keep calm.
However when Milton obtained to Michigan’s locker room, the feelings broke by means of.
“I began tearing up,” he mentioned, “as a result of it’s actual. It’s time to show to the world who I’m and what I can do.”
The second handed. Milton returned to the sphere. And he did precisely what he — and Harbaugh — mentioned he would.
Contact Orion Sang at email@example.com. Observe him on Twitter @orion_sang. Learn extra on the Michigan Wolverines and join our Wolverines publication. The Free Press has began a new digital subscription mannequin. This is how one can achieve entry to our most unique Michigan Wolverines content material.
This text initially appeared on Detroit Free Press: How Joe Milton aced his first take a look at as Michigan soccer’s QB1