Michigan football’s passing game coordinator, Jedd Fisch, needs another receiver who can make 40 to 50 catches next year.
He’s already expecting fifth-year senior wide receivers Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh to be closer to 75 catches apiece this season, but a third consistent threat would make the Wolverines that much more dangerous. And after seeing Chesson rack up a team-leading 764 yards and nine touchdowns this past fall, junior receiver Moe Ways is hoping he can have a similar breakout season in 2016 and become that third receiver.
In 2015, Ways appeared in 11 games, making just three catches for 40 yards. He’s going to need to make a leap in order to get to that number of completions, but he doesn’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility after seeing Chesson’s season.
“Honestly, for Jehu, it just all clicked,” Ways said. “After the Utah game, everything clicked for him. He just played with so much confidence. He knew he was the go-to guy, him and Amara, and he knew that when the game was on the line, like the Indiana game and the Minnesota game, it’s time to make plays.”
Now, in his third season, Ways feels as if everything he has worked on is starting to fall into place. He goes to Darboh and Chesson for advice, getting in extra practice with them in the meantime, because they’ve been in his shoes before.
After an offseason of practice and advice, he feels better prepared to take on a larger role.
“(This spring feels) very different,” Ways said. “I know the offense a lot better. I’ve gotten better working on my weaknesses in the offseason. I’m more confident, playing confident. I know what I’m doing.”
For Ways, the answer to getting those extra catches is simple: He needs to get to the right place and catch the ball without dropping it.
In order to ensure he can capitalize on the opportunity when the ball comes to him, Ways put in a lot of handgrip and forearm work. Though he doesn’t think dropping the ball was a weakness of his, he wanted to get better, and according to Fisch, he did just that.
“I’m not sure I can remember a drop so far in spring, ” Fisch said of Ways. “I think Moe Ways leads us with the least amount of drops, so (the wide receivers) have all come in and they’ve all done a nice job coming back and kind of letting us pick up where we left off.”
Though the quarterbacks are still receiving even reps, the constant rotation hasn’t been a difficult adjustment for Ways or the other receivers. Ways admitted that sometimes he can’t even tell who’s playing quarterback when they quickly switch out — except for when left-handed redshirt junior Shane Morris throws the ball, because it spins in the opposite direction.
Freshman quarterback Brandon Peters, who graduated early from high school and enrolled this semester, has stood out to Ways, who conceded that he doesn’t look like a freshman at all.
“(Peters’) arm strength is very good, his accuracy is very good, his knowledge of the game is very good,” Ways said. “His age is young, but the way he plays is not young at all.”
Now that Ways is one of the older players on the field, he has a better grasp of the learning curve of college football.
“It just comes with time,” Ways said. “Like I said, first year, you learn the offense and kind of struggle a little bit, by the second year you have a better grasp of it. As you get older, your football IQ grows and your body changes and you start making more plays.”