2017 Season Countdown: #47 John O’Korn

2017 Season Countdown: #47 John O’Korn


July 16, 2017

John O’Korn (image via Zimbio)

Name: John O’Korn
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 215 lbs.
High school: Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas
Position: Quarterback
Class: Fifth year senior
Jersey number: #8
Last year: I ranked O’Korn #22 and said he would be the backup quarterback. He started one game and finished the season 20/34 (59%) for 173 yards, 2 TDs, and o INTs; he also ran 12 times for 31 yards.
TTB Rating: N/A

Allow myself to quote myself:

O’Korn still has some considerable value here at #22. First, he may still earn the starting job, whether it’s for the opener against Hawaii or if Speight doesn’t play up to Harbaugh’s standards. Second, a backup QB is often needed in key situations, just like Speight was needed against Minnesota last season after Rudock got injured. And third, as Harbaugh likes to say, steel sharpens steel. Even if O’Korn doesn’t take a single snap this year, his presence will keep Speight working hard to hold on to the pole position.

That’s from last year’s countdown, and it sums up O’Korn’s role pretty well. Of course, he never won the starting job outright, but he came in handy when Speight injured his shoulder and had to miss the Indiana game. Based on what else we saw from Shane Morris throughout his career, Morris would have lost that game. O’Korn didn’t play well (7/16 for 59 yards), but a 30-yard run late in the game sparked the Wolverines to a victory. Otherwise, he played well in mop-up duty, but that one start – in the snow and swirling wind – was very shaky.

This year it looks like O’Korn will drop to third string. Redshirt freshman Brandon Peters appeared to pass up O’Korn by the spring, and Peters is even pushing Speight. O’Korn still has some decent physical skills when it comes to running ability and arm strength, but his struggles seem to have been mental. Speight struggled in the spring, and some think he’s still suffering from his collarbone injury; Peters is young and prone to some up-and-down play. I don’t think the combination of Speight and Peters will play poorly enough to give O’Korn a shot at starting unless a significant injury occurs, but the Wolverines did throw Morris out there in certain packages and gave him some snaps late in decisive victories. This might not be the end to a career that many of us imagined when we found out O’Korn was transferring from Houston a couple years ago, but it looks like he’ll finish out college as a backup. But from Michigan’s perspective, they’re in pretty dang good shape if their third-stringer has 1.5 seasons of starting experience.

Prediction: Third-string quarterback

24 comments

  1. Lanknows
    Comments: 3600
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jul 16, 2017 at 1:27 PM

    I think this is probably a bit low for a guy who might be the backup QB. I don’t think O’Korn would have stuck around for his 5th year if he thought it was as set as fans do that Peters is ahead of him.

    It’s nice that Michigan does have 2 solid options for backup QB. That diminishes either’s value in the countdown. But one of them is probably going to have a huge impact at some point this season, as O’Korn did last year.

    I agree with what Thunder asserted – Michigan probably loses to Indiana without O’Korn. How many of the backup RBs and WRs about to get ranked ahead of O’Korn can we say that about?

    Even after the discount for Peters’ emergence I still think the potential #2 QB has to go higher. If nothing else, he’s a guy who you could throw in a tough situation and be pretty confident that he won’t start turning the ball over a la Morris or Bellomy. Peters is sort of boom/bust in 2017. O’Korn is high floor veteran backup at the most important position on the field.

    • Painter Smurf
      Comments: 205
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      Painter Smurf
      Jul 16, 2017 at 1:55 PM

      O’Korn’s value to UM this year pretty much comes down to one purpose -preserving McCaffrey’s redshirt in case of injuries (especially considering Speight’s injury history).

      O’Korn was a deer in the headlights against Indiana. Yes thy got the W, but the offense shut down and it was clear that the coaches rightfully had zero confidence in him. Calling O’Korn high floor is meaningless. He is not a legit pocket passer.

      Calling Peters boom/bust is also nonsense. He is a young player with a lot of skills who seems to be pretty level headed. If he plays this year, I’d bet he is neither boom nor bust, but solid.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jul 16, 2017 at 2:14 PM

        You have no idea if a kid who has never played college football is level-headed or not. But you sound pretty sure about where things stand anyway.

        I mean O’Korn is high floor as a backup in that he isn’t going to lose you a game by himself. Avoiding turnovers has value. Being able to come in and not screw things up has value. We’ve seen the alternative.

        If Peters is a solid college QB this year and beats out O’Korn (a skilled veteran) I would consider that a BOOM. I don’t see Heisman contender as being in the realistic range. The BUST part is Morris and that seems unlikely but still possible since he hasn’t, you know, played yet.

        • JC
          Comments: 140
          Joined: 8/17/2015
          JC
          Jul 17, 2017 at 10:15 AM

          Watching Peters in the spring game vs. watching O’Korn in live action gives me much more confidence in Peters.

          O’Korn threw for less than 4 yards/attempt in the Indiana game, completing just 7 of his 16 pass attempts. He’s not going to win games with that kind of performance.

  2. Comments: 28
    Joined: 8/21/2015
    AA7596
    Jul 16, 2017 at 6:06 PM

    O’Korn isn’t a legit pocket passer, but Lanknows has a point.

    The floor for a backup QB is Bellomy-at-Nebraska. O’Korn is well above that. Michigan can beat half the teams on its schedule with O’Korn, which isn’t ideal but may be all you need. If Michigan hangs on against OSU, O’Korn helped get you to Indy.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Jul 16, 2017 at 6:31 PM

      Right. And while I too expect Peters to be better than Bellomy, Morris and even the ’15 version of Speight, it’s not a given. We (the UM fanbase) have been collectively very wrong before about a backup QB’s abilities based on putting too much stock in recruiting rankings, optimistic buzz, and not awful spring games (see: Shane Morris).

      We also shouldn’t totally dismiss the idea that O’Korn can improve. He’ll be entering his 3rd year with Harbaugh and will be playing with a new OC/PGC in Hamilton. With all his spread-experience, it might take him a bit longer than it took Rudock or Speight to get comfortable in this scheme. Or maybe if the buzz about 4-wide offense comes to fruition, the concerns about patient pocket-passing will be mitigated.

      It’s great to hear how well Peters is progressing, but I’m not ready to say he’s the guy that comes in for Speight if he goes down say, against MSU in EL.

    • Painter Smurf
      Comments: 205
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      Painter Smurf
      Jul 16, 2017 at 10:20 PM

      You guys need to go back and watch that Indiana game. That was a Nick Sheridan level performance from a 4th year QB. There were stretches where the fans were on the edges of their seats praying for a short completion. The coaches completely shut down the offense when it was clear O’Korn was rattled. That was not quality back-up play. He is just a guy, and now that Peters has 18 months with the program under his belt, O’Korn is not that valuable. Thunder has him appropriately ranked.

      • Comments: 2231
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Jul 17, 2017 at 6:36 AM

        I don’t think that was a typical John O’Korn performance. I think he had a bad day, and I’ve mentioned before (including in this post) that it was a particularly windy, cold, and snowy day. Considering he looked solid at other times during the year and earlier in his career, I don’t think his 7/16 performance is indicative of his abilities. Still…I don’t think he’s a difference-maker in a positive direction.

        • Comments: 676
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Jul 17, 2017 at 8:10 AM

          Frankly, I don’t think we have enough data to know what a “typical” John O’Korn performance is, not on this team, in this offense, when it matters. Indiana was the only game where he’s had prime time snaps, and he looked bad (granted, under less than ideal conditions). His other appearances last year were all in garbage time of huge blowouts, so that doesn’t tell us much.

          • Comments: 2231
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Jul 17, 2017 at 8:20 AM

            I don’t think it has to be “on this team” or “in this offense.” He’s attempted passes in 26 career games. Other than PSU (when he was 0/1), his completion percentage was his lowest at Michigan in 7 games, and it was the 4th lowest passer rating of his career.

            • Comments: 676
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              WindyCityBlue
              Jul 17, 2017 at 9:45 AM

              Come on…comparing completion percentages from garbage time appearances with only a few throws isn’t valid and you know that. And yes, I know he had a very good freshman year as a starter at Houston, but that talent just doesn’t seem to have transferred over to this team and this offensive system at all, for whatever reason, and I don’t think we can count on it popping up again, not when almost 3 years of being coached up by Harbaugh hasn’t gotten him even close to starter status. We were all hoping it would, but that kind of talent just doesn’t stay buried for this long.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 3600
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Jul 17, 2017 at 10:02 AM

                Harbaugh hasn’t been on campus for 3 years. I don’t think O’Korn has been here for even 2.

                Every year we see major improvements by seniors and yet the preseason comes and we treat them as if they have no chance of improvement.

                • Comments: 676
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  WindyCityBlue
                  Jul 17, 2017 at 10:25 AM

                  OKorn transferred here in February of 2015, so he’s been coached by Harbaugh for spring and fall practices and game season in 2015 and 2016, and spring practice for 2017, without any significant improvement that’s apparent. How much more coaching up does he need?

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 3600
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 17, 2017 at 12:46 PM

                  I stand corrected on the timing. O’Korn’s been coached by Harbaugh for 2 years+. Still not ‘almost 3’.

                  I would argue that we have a lot of data about O’Korn’s floor, but less about his ceiling in a Michigan uniform.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 3600
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 17, 2017 at 12:46 PM

                  I’m not sure we can confidently say there hasn’t been improvement based on 1 game in 2 years.

              • Comments: 2231
                Joined: 7/13/2015
                Jul 17, 2017 at 10:36 AM

                That’s fine…which is why I gave you numbers from Michigan and for his whole career. I disagree to an extent, because we’ve seen guys like Shane Morris and Russell Bellomy struggle mightily at virtually every opportunity. Those are the guys who can’t hack it. O’Korn has been better than them at Michigan.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 3600
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Jul 17, 2017 at 9:56 AM

              Here I am nodding my head along to WCB;s comments and then I read “but that talent just doesn’t seem to have transferred over to this team”, right on the heels of “Frankly, I don’t think we have enough data to know what a “typical” John O’Korn performance is”. I get the distinction, but the lack of data should be enough to keep anyone from making very strong statements.

              I agree that O’Korn doesn’t appear to be anything special, but I think he has demonstrated to be competent. Indiana was a tough game. O’Korn is likely better than that, as Thunder said. Yet he’s also not as good as the injured version of Speight we saw at the end of the year.

              We don’t know how good Peters is until he plays in front of thousands. His High School performances are less relevant than O’Korn’s Houston performances and practice is practice.

              • Comments: 676
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                WindyCityBlue
                Jul 17, 2017 at 10:33 AM

                The “lack of data” is the direct result of his not being good enough to make the field in prime time, except when Speight was completely unable to play. O’Korn clearly was not good enough to have the coaches’ confidence even over a probably less than healthy Speight in our 3 losses. MSU went into Columbus 2 years ago and won with their backup QB, so it’s not as if we shouldn’t have been able to, if O’Korn had shown any chops at all.

                • Comments: 2231
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Jul 17, 2017 at 10:44 AM

                  It’s a little disingenuous to say O’Korn wasn’t good enough to see the field over an unhealthy Speight in our three losses, because Speight was healthy for the majority of that game. I’ll give you Ohio State and Florida State, I guess, but not many starting QBs are going to be replaced if they’re healthy enough to play.

                  Also, according to you, the only viable data comes from the game against Indiana when it was snowing, had a temperature in the high 30s, and had winds of 20-30 miles/hour:

                  http://www.mgoblue.com/boxscore.aspx?id=2910&path=football

                  I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest that a guy who played high school and college ball in Florida and Texas, and who had not had starter’s reps all season, might be a little bit off in that weather. If he goes 10/16 for 1 TD in good weather, we’re probably thinking he’s pretty good. I’m not saying that WOULD have happened, but I don’t think it’s as cut-and-dried as you think.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jul 17, 2017 at 12:53 PM

        We’re really parsing things now… O’Korn I think we generally agree is somewhere near competent. How much you weigh his play at Houston or how much stock you put into the Indiana game is sort of beside the point. We know you can win with him. We know he’s not an NFL QB in waiting either. He’s probably good enough to beat anybody we play outside of the 4 toughest games.

        The more interesting part is where Peters slots in. Who wins the backup job may be an interesting camp battle to follow. Hopefully it doesn’t matter too much in 2017 and Speight stays healthy.

  3. Comments: 8
    Joined: 11/13/2015
    leftrare
    Jul 17, 2017 at 10:38 AM

    I’m confused by how Thunder is lining up the QB pecking order, or maybe I slipped into a coma for a few days at some point and missed important news an Ex-Wolverine post on Alex Malzone. Otherwise, how could you list O’Korn below Malzone?

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Jul 17, 2017 at 12:49 PM

      Is Malzone on the team? If a tree falls in a forest does the 5th string QB belong in the top 100 most important players?

    • Comments: 2231
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jul 17, 2017 at 1:07 PM

      I didn’t include Alex Malzone in the countdown. When I started the countdown, he was not expected to be on the team this fall. Now he’s expected to stay through this season…but he’s way down the depth chart, so I don’t care.

      • Comments: 8
        Joined: 11/13/2015
        leftrare
        Jul 17, 2017 at 3:16 PM

        Thanks for clarifying. I just assumed that all scholarship players would be on the list somewhere.

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