ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It probably won't come down to quarterback play when No. 7 Michigan opens its season on Saturday against visiting Hawaii.
But Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh is guarding the identity of the starter like it's a national secret.
Harbaugh revealed on Monday that he has chosen the starter -- either sophomore Wilton Speight or junior transfer John O'Korn -- but he just isn't interested in sharing the information publicly yet.
"Yeah, we know who our starting quarterback is. Yes," Harbaugh said at a press conference. "I'll say who our starting quarterback is before Saturday."
Harbaugh said the battle for the job has been fierce but he carefully measured his words so he wouldn't tip off the identity of the starter.
The competition at the quarterback position has been very good," Harbaugh said. "It's been improving, as well, daily and weekly. All the quarterbacks are playing at a very high level."
O'Korn, a former starter at Houston, has the edge in game experience. Speight holds the edge when it comes to production in a Michigan uniform.
Speight hasn't started a game but did guide the Wolverines to a winning touchdown against Minnesota last season when he replaced injured starter Jake Rudock.
He thinks he has an inkling which way the decision will shake out but wasn't willing to share his opinion.
"I think I've got a feel now and everyone has a feel," Speight said recently. "But it's Coach's decision and not many people know what goes on in Coach Harbaugh's mind. He's one of a kind, so just kind of wait and see what he does."
O'Korn isn't stressing over the timing of a public declaration. He said whether he is the starter or the backup will have no bearing on his preparation.
"I don't think it should change, honestly, if you're the first guy or the second guy," O'Korn said recently. "If you're the second guy you're only a snap away, so you should be preparing just as hard as the starter."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--WR Jehu Chesson emerged as a big-play threat over the second half of the season and the Wolverines are looking to see him play at a high level over the entire season. Chesson caught 50 passes and led the team in receiving yardage (764) and receiving touchdowns (nine) during his breakout junior campaign. He suffered a knee injury during the Citrus Bowl and spent most of the offseason rehabbing but is now close to full strength.
--TE Jake Butt was a second-team All-American last season and figures to top last season's totals of 51 receptions and 654 yards. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Butt only caught three touchdown passes last season and is capable of being more effective close to the end zone. He has seven career touchdowns out of 92 college catches.
--CB Jourdan Lewis rates as one of the top cover corners in college football after setting a Michigan record with 22 passes defensed last season, breaking the school mark of 18 shared by Marlin Jackson (2002) and Leon Hall (2006). He only had two interceptions last season and will be aiming to double or triple that total this season. Lewis also could be a factor in the return game after averaging 25.2 yards on 15 kickoff returns last season.
--OLB Jabrill Peppers is widely considered one of the top talents in college football and the Wolverines made a bold move by switching to him to linebacker. Peppers excelled as a strong safety last season but feel his athleticism will allow him to wreak havoc all over the field as a linebacker. He also will again play a role on offense and is a solid punt returner (11.4 average).
SERIES HISTORY: Michigan and Hawaii are meeting for the third time. The Wolverines won both previous meetings -- 27-10 in 1986 when Jim Harbaugh was the quarterback and 48-17 in 1998 when Tom Brady was at the helm.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "That kind of backfired on Ohio State last year. You saw J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones. I don't think Coach (Harbaugh), having played the position, would like that situation. Whoever comes out on top at the end of camp is for a reason. It's not, 'Oh, you'd better play well this drive or you're going to be looking over your shoulder.'" -- Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight, on how he doesn't think a two-quarterback system would work for the Wolverines.