Michigan 35, Rutgers 14

Michigan 35, Rutgers 14


October 29, 2017

Brandon Peters (image via USA Today)

Is it Peters time? The biggest story is obviously the appearance of redshirt freshman Brandon Peters. I said before the game that I didn’t think Peters would play unless John O’Korn got hurt or unless Michigan went up big, and I was wrong. I wasn’t really expecting two fumbled snaps, either. O’Korn was 3/6 for 13 yards and 1 interception before getting yanked for redshirt freshman Brandon Peters in the second quarter. Peters entered the game when it was 7-7, and the offense rattled off 21 unanswered points. He went 10/14 for 124 yards and 1 touchdown in that time. Following the game, Jim Harbaugh said this has been brewing for a couple weeks, and he also told the team on Monday that Peters would get a chance to play in this one. Peters looked outstanding in this game except for a) one slant that might have been a pick-six if safety Kiy Hester didn’t have stone hands and b) a deep crossing route to Sean McKeon that fell short, not because of arm strength but due to misjudging the distance. He’s still finding his way as a player a little bit. His play was encouraging, but O’Korn looked great when he played against Purdue, too. Now that teams have film on Peters, sledding might get a little tougher in the coming weeks.

Hit the jump for some more thoughts on Saturday’s win.

Can Michigan run the ball? It would appear that Michigan can run the football. The Wolverines ran 51 times for 334 yards (6.5 yards/carry) and 4 touchdowns. The leading rusher was Karan Higdon (18 carries, 158 yards, 2 TDs), who was breaking some tackles and did a great job of getting in his pulling guard’s back pocket on a 49-yard touchdown run. Ty Isaac (14 carries, 109 yards) ran well, too, especially on a 3rd-and-17 toss play that saw him stiff-arm a linebacker in the backfield and then gain 16 yards. Kareem Walker (6 carries, 34 yards, 1 TD) and Chris Evans (5 carries, 29 yards) both averaged over 5 yards/carry. Rutgers came into the game at #59 nationally in rushing defense, but Michigan ended up with more rushing yards than either Purdue (279) or Ohio State (275), previously the top two performances against Rutgers this season. Power and counter were huge for Michigan this game.

Recruit Ohio more. Michigan players from New Jersey play well against Rutgers. Last year when Michigan went to Piscataway, they featured a ton of Jabrill Peppers in front of a gaggle of recruits. For some reason, Rutgers thought it would be a good idea to turn the Michigan game into a huge recruiting weekend, which saw them lose in blowout fashion, 78-0. This year Michigan seemed to make a point of playing Kareem Walker more than he had ever played previously, and he ran 6 times for 34 yards and 1 touchdown. Meanwhile, Rashan Gary (5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack) pressured the quarterback a ton and played his best game as a Wolverine, in my opinion. Michael Dwumfour recorded his first career sack, and Juwann Bushell-Beatty seemed to play a solid game at right tackle. Is this coincidence? Is it just because it’s Rutgers? Or might this be an actual belief of Harbaugh’s that players are going to shine against teams from their home state?

I hope there aren’t any running QBs on the rest of the schedule. Over the past couple weeks, Michigan has allowed big plays to Penn State’s Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley, and now to Rutgers slot receiver Janarion Grant, who lined up at Wildcat QB. Grant had a 65-yard touchdown run on a read play where he outran almost the entire defense. Michigan needs to spend some extra time going over the shotgun QB option stuff in the coming weeks. Luckily, Ohio State’s quarterbacks never run the ball, so the Wolverines should be totally fine in The Game . . .

Goodbye, redshirts. It’s always interesting to see which freshmen play in the second half of the year, and which ones get “injured” after an early appearance or two during the season. O’Maury Samuels disappeared for a few weeks, but he got a few carries toward the end of this game, ensuring that next year he will be a true sophomore. Meanwhile, wide receiver Nico Collins played for the second straight week after not seeing time in the first six games. Freshmen who have yet to play:

  • QB Dylan McCaffrey
  • RB Kurt Taylor
  • WR Oliver Martin
  • OL Chuck Filiaga
  • OL Ja’Raymond Hall
  • OL Joel Honigford
  • OL James Hudson
  • OL Phillip Paea
  • DT Deron Irving-Bey
  • DT Donovan Jeter
  • DE Luiji Vilain
  • LB Jordan Anthony
  • LB Drew Singleton

Not too bad on my predictions this week. I said Higdon would have 125 yards and 2 TDs (actual: 158 yards, 2 TDs). I said the final score would be 35-7 (actual: 35-14). And I said Donovan Peoples-Jones would make his first TD catch; he had a chance, but Peters put a little too much on a vertical route and threw it out of bounds.

41 comments

  1. Comments: 948
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Oct 29, 2017 at 7:44 AM

    Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than it is to be good. Peters was very lucky that Hester has no hands, as this could have been a very different kind of write-up were there an early pick six thrown into the box score.

    The real good news here is that Peters was both lucky and good in this game. This was particularly refreshing as O’Korn has been neither, pretty much for the entirety of his career here. Although I am putting a high percentage of blame on his pick in this game on Gentry who seemed blissfully unaware of the possibility that a route of his could even be jumped. I am cutting slack on the basis that he is very green as a receiver and at 6’7″ it probably never dawned on him that he could be out reached/out hustled for a ball, but that’s exactly what happened.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 29, 2017 at 11:40 AM

      That ball was pretty badly underthrown. Asking a lot of Gentry.

      • Comments: 948
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        Roanman
        Oct 29, 2017 at 2:18 PM

        Look again.

        That ball was there and pretty close to in stride. Gentry only had to step into the catch, but he was thinking that he was going to make that catch, shake off the gnat he had covering and then run to the score.

        The moral here being, of course, first things first.

  2. Comments: 948
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Oct 29, 2017 at 7:45 AM

    I missed it, who came in for Onwenu.

    • Comments: 121
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      coachernie
      Oct 29, 2017 at 12:45 PM

      Believe it was Runyan ?

  3. DonAZ
    Comments: 337
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    DonAZ
    Oct 29, 2017 at 9:39 AM

    Happy to see Peters come in and do relatively well. All sorts of caveats apply because it was Rutgers, but still — he looked good.

    I wonder what O’Korn is thinking right about now? His opportunity came and went. Provided Peters stays healthy, and doesn’t implode as a QB, I can’t see Harbaugh returning to O’Korn as starter the rest of this season.

    * * *
    Thunder … site comment … when I come in unauthenticated initially, I see this below the last comment:

    You must belogged in to post a comment

    Notice the no space between “be” and “logged”?

    Also, that link has:

    http://touch-the-banner.com/touchbann_adminuser

    Which results in a 404 error.

    • mos12
      Comments: 28
      Joined: 8/15/2016
      mos12
      Oct 29, 2017 at 10:13 AM

      I feel like O’Korn has been given every chance to shine. This last game showed more than anything that he has to be done. He was struggling mightily at home against Rutgers! No reason for that if he was ever going to be a serviceable quarterback. Fingers crossed that Peters is the real deal. A lot of true freshman quarterbacks have come in and done well. He already has an extra year on them.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 29, 2017 at 11:41 AM

      He’s probably thinking he’ll get another chance given the OL pass pro and who it faces the last 2 weeks of the season.

  4. crazyjoedavola
    Comments: 191
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    crazyjoedavola
    Oct 29, 2017 at 10:41 AM

    – I would compare O’Korn’s performance in this game to the Bellamy vs Nebraska debacle, and would seriously question Harbaugh’s sanity should he allow for it to continue. I have no idea how an athletically talented 5th year senior with a good arm can play at such horrible level.

    – Walker showed some real good vision in this game, it was very refreshing to once again see that out of a back in a winged helmet.

    – Peters can do something that Shane Morris never bothered learning, he can adjust velocity and touch depending on the route, he also showed pretty good pocket presence and did not panic when the pocked started to break down while no one was open.

    • Comments: 502
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Oct 29, 2017 at 2:44 PM

      Here is what I thought of Peters.

      1. He has some good composure.
      2. OL seemed to really block well for him.
      3. He has some natural throwing ability.
      4. I don’t know if he has a big arm but it looks like he has a accurate arm. Throwing the ball to lead his wr.
      5. Seemed to be able to move within the pocket.
      6. Best part was his willingness to look down field and he seemed like he was willing to look at a couple of wr routes.
      7. Did seem to look like a prototypical drop back passer.

      a. Did seem to slide/duck down and not take a hit?
      b. If I were his opponent, I would blitz him. Staff is going to have to set him up with a solid running game but it looks like Peters has the upside to execute this offense.

      We will see.

      • Comments: 725
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Oct 29, 2017 at 2:57 PM

        Don’t forget no “happy feet.” That’s huge

        *we’ll see how that looks after taking his first hit

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 29, 2017 at 7:13 PM

        Yes – good footwork, composure, instincts… but as JE and others have pointed out it’s easier when you get protection. Harder when your ribs or back are sore/broken by constant pressure.

        • Painter Smurf
          Comments: 205
          Joined: 8/12/2015
          Painter Smurf
          Oct 29, 2017 at 8:22 PM

          Not for O’Korn. He was headed for a bad day on Saturday. And despite the score, Speight’s worst ’16 game pre-injury may have been the 78-0 Rutgers game. He could barely hit the broad side of a barn that day.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3600
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Oct 29, 2017 at 10:35 PM

            Sounds like Purdue thoughts with JOK in the role-reversal.

  5. Lanknows
    Comments: 3600
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Oct 29, 2017 at 11:10 AM

    It’s Peters time!

    I do think he’ll face struggles as defenses get tougher and the environment is less friendly. I agree with Thunder that Purdue can’t be forgotten (nor can Maryland, etc.)

    That said, I’m not sure how teams will really change up their gameplan from O’Korn to Speight to Peters. Different levels of skill but basically similar QBs – as reflected in the consistency of playcalling. Maybe that’s naive but it seems like you do the same thing regardless – load the box to stop the run, blitz often to throw off the QB’s accuracy, take your chances that Michigan’s receiver will win their matchups deep.

    Nearly as big, maybe bigger, than the Peters development is the continuing improvement in run blocking. I’m not big on reacting to one week but this is getting to be a multi-week trend that can not be dismissed. The improvement is noticeable. Onwenu, JBB, and the young TEs seem to be leading the charge on the steady improvement. If it’s real and Michigan starts approach the Stanford-level run game – it means so much for this team’s future.

    We’ve dominated bad defenses before on the ground. We’ve seen production like this before. This feels different. It’s more forceful and it’s pretty dang consistent. There are real holes now and the RB are taking advantage.

    Speaking of RB — I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that all 4 look better simultaneously – faster, more decisive, improved vision. Must be the Jay Harbaugh had a coaching breakthrough, finally overcoming the stink of Fred Jackson. (To be clear – that’s sarcasm aimed at the Jackson-haters out there. It’s the OL!)

    • Comments: 502
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Oct 29, 2017 at 1:38 PM

      RU

      • Comments: 1
        Joined: 4/22/2017
        Jgwat
        Oct 29, 2017 at 2:38 PM

        RU is much improved from laughing stock they have been. They are ranked 33 and 61 according the s&p+ and FPI. They are not an elite defense, but they are not the train wreck they were in years past.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Oct 29, 2017 at 7:15 PM

          OSU still flattened them. FWIW.

  6. Lanknows
    Comments: 3600
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Oct 29, 2017 at 11:38 AM

    It’s a good point raised that the rest of the schedule doesn’t help Michigan much for JT Barrett. The Michigan D looks to be a significant step back from last year’s. OSU’s O looks better. That’s a scary matchup, and it’s even more scary on the other side of the ball.

    The schedule does lay out nicely for Peters, getting steadily harder each week.

    If there are 2 things I wish Michigan fans/blogs would stop talking about it’s a) ref complaining and b) freshman not saving themselves for 4 years from now. The red-shirt is Plan B unless you’re a QB or OL. No regrets!

    I may not see a point in playing somebody like Samuels but the chances it matters in 2021 are next to nil. Not like they don’t get to recruit somebody else.

    Michigan likes to play 4 RB and Samuels is on track to replace Isaac next year. Get all the information you can. Figure out if he’s that guy or if he is an athlete who belongs at another position. It’s fine.

    • Comments: 502
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Oct 29, 2017 at 12:58 PM

      Has the UM defense taken a step back? I think they have taken a step back. Too much emphasis on getting to the qb and not enough on containment. I think the db’s are fine which is funny after the comments from the coach before the season.

      I think the bigger step back is on the coaching. Some of these problems have arisen from over aggressiveness and lack of contain. I also think that opponents are using Brown’s tendencies against him. It’s a combination of factors but I do agree the defense isn’t as good as last year on the DL and just coaching and youthful mistakes.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 29, 2017 at 7:17 PM

        CBs are fine, but Safeties are struggling a bit. CBs haven’t really played any great WR though.

        Brown is being Brown. He takes risk. It’s easier to do when you have Peppers, Lewis, Wormley, Glasgow and a bunch of other seniors. His coaching is no worse or better than last year IMO.

        • Comments: 725
          Joined: 1/19/2016
          je93
          Oct 29, 2017 at 7:21 PM

          I’d like to use a third CB, especially on passing downs. All three of our Corners can tackle this year, but our Safeties are getting picked on. Should help

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3600
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Oct 29, 2017 at 7:30 PM

            Agree. Brown I think likes his safeties to be versatile, so on the positive side, there are teaching moments for next year.

    • crazyjoedavola
      Comments: 191
      Joined: 8/13/2015
      crazyjoedavola
      Oct 29, 2017 at 4:30 PM

      There is no question that the defense has taken a significant step back, but that was expected. You don’t lose 11 starters and keep pace, not unless you recruit and develop players at Bama’s level. The D-line is faster but not as stout or nearly as deep, LBs are pretty good but McRae is being asked to do things that he cannot. Corners are very good but safeties are a weakness. If OSU will bring their A game on offense, they’ll hang 500 yards on this defense, and their D-line will destroy UM’s O-line. That game is most likely a blowout loss, but if Peters will play well, the game against Wisky could be close.

      • Comments: 502
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Oct 29, 2017 at 5:00 PM

        Safeties? Yeah. I would agree although it’s relative. It’s not that bad. Barkley will make a lot of people look bad. I personally think it’s Brown and his lack of diversified defensive sets that is a part of the problem. He plays to the blitz too often and teams are setting him up.

        I do believe gap containment is an issue. No real definitive issue but experience and maturity is an issue. DiNardo was right. Live by the sword, die by the sword or something similar. You swarm and blitz and your safeties get caught out of position then look out.

        In fact, how about this observation. UM is not getting beat on the edge, they are getting beat with cutbacks up the middle.(Leave off the McCray wheel routes). Think McSorley. RU back. Barkley run. Lewerke run. Pass from MSU. Forgot about the PU play which was probably the foundation for the way to attack the UM defense.

        Teams are clearly exploiting that aggressiveness and lack of discipline. I thought this defense could have been really good but was wrong. Experience matters.

        • Comments: 2223
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Oct 29, 2017 at 5:13 PM

          “I thought this defense could have been really good but was wrong.”

          LOL. This defense is #16 in scoring defense, #8 in rushing defense, #2 in passing defense, #5 in passing efficiency defense, and #4 in total defense.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3600
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Oct 29, 2017 at 7:26 PM

            They’re #14 in S&P and that seems about right. A lot of people expected a top 5 performance again.

          • Comments: 502
            Joined: 9/13/2015
            michymich
            Oct 30, 2017 at 2:57 AM

            I think you got a case of the LK stat flu. Let’s go behind the numbers.

            Is FLA that good offensively? Didn’t their coach just get fired and blown out by Georgia. Aren’t they under .500?

            Who has UM been shutting down? I didn’t say UM wasn’t good. I said UM wasn’t very good. Big difference. MSU put points on them without their best back and before the monsoon came. Should had 17-21 pts at half time.

            Indiana was moving the ball. I don’t even have to mention PSU do I?

            So are you factoring in all the bad offenses to make this defense look really good? AF is a one dimensional system that played to the strengths of UM.

            Talk to me at the end of the season but most of these defensive numbers are inflated. OSU seemed to do a better job against PSU albeit at home but where is OSU rated defensively?

            • Comments: 2223
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Oct 30, 2017 at 8:27 AM

              By this point in the season, every team has played decent teams and bad teams. Alabama is ranked #1 in both raw stats (in several categories) and adjusted stats, but their schedule hasn’t been particularly tough, either. You play who’s on the schedule. Penn State is above Michigan after playing OSU, so now both PSU and OSU have played exactly one good offense (OSU for PSU, PSU for Michigan).

              But hey, you’re someone who thinks there’s a “big difference” between saying “they’re not good” and “they’re not very good.” So I won’t spend too much time belaboring the point.

              I gave you the numbers above, both raw and adjusted. We’re eight games into the season, not two or three. If you don’t like numbers, then there’s nothing else to say.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 3600
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Oct 30, 2017 at 10:00 AM

                This isn’t true. See Wisconsin – the best team they’ve played is Florida Atlantic.

                Things MOSTLY even out as we get further into the season but this remains an issue when you look at teams who don’t play anyone in the non-conference schedule (Wisconsin this year, KSU many times in years past), or small-conference schools that maybe play one tough came out of conference. In many cases it never evens out.

                Having playoff matchups to win conference titles is a big help to weed these kind of teams out. So do advanced stats and “computer rankings”.

                But – during the season – human poll voters tend to compare losses because it’s easier on the brain. This is why teams do what Wisconsin has done, with the help of uneven Big Ten scheduling of course.

                So – Michigan will end up playing @Wisc, @PSU, OSU, MSU, and Florida (who is not good but hey, at least they tried.)

                Wisconsin will end up playing
                host to UM and uhhh…whoever you think is the second toughest game on their schedule? @Minnesota?

                Thankfully there’s Big Ten title game but the whims of fate could blow their way. I hope they are not rewarded for scheduling nobody.

                • Comments: 2223
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Oct 30, 2017 at 10:44 AM

                  Nothing will ever even out totally. The only way that happens is if every team plays the exact same teams. There’s no rule that encompasses 130 teams, but it will generally even out each year.

                  Kansas State has played at least 1 ranked opponent in its first 8 games going all the way back to 2008. Every Big Ten team has played at least 1 ranked opponent this year except for Wisconsin.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 3600
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Oct 30, 2017 at 10:51 AM

                I’m agreeing that things generally even out by the end of the year but a) 8 games isn’t enough to make that very true and b) there are always outliers.

                The nature of college football is that it is a low sample size high variance sport. That makes it entertaining and unpredictable and even unfair. It is fun to watch and debate.

                Still, if I had my way, power conference teams would be required to play 2 or even 3 of 4 non-conference games against each other. This would give us more meaningful information and better games. On paper it would cost money but in reality people will pay a lot more to see quality football than cupcake-eatin, as reflected in the secondary ticket market.

        • Comments: 725
          Joined: 1/19/2016
          je93
          Oct 29, 2017 at 7:24 PM

          Um, they’re still really good. There’s cracks, but even despite youth/new starters, they’re really good

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 29, 2017 at 7:24 PM

        Was expected to a degree. I think a lot of people agreed they would drop from top 5 to top 15 — which has largely held up. Others, including I believe Mgoblog – did not expect much if any dropoff. That sentiment stuck through much of the season until MSU and maybe for a smaller group to PSU.

        Here is what mgoblog said before the season started:
        “If they skate through injury-free it’s going to be elite—as in top 5—again. If they take the right kind of hits they’ll probably be a shade below.”

        No injuries. They rank 14 in S&P. Will probably move up the next 2 weeks and then down again after OSU.

        http://mgoblog.com/content/five-question-and-five-answers-defense-2017

  7. Comments: 502
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Oct 29, 2017 at 12:14 PM

    I want to see this staff allow Peters to grow and make some mistakes over the course of the season. I am less worried about the remaining part of the season and more interested in having Peters throw and grow. Let him learn. Not advocating throwing the ball 35 times a game but let him work the entire field like you are trying to develop a NFL qb by the time he is a junior/senior.

    In order for a Pro style system to work to it’s intended level then a high level passing qb is needed. That pick that was almost is part of the growing process. It’s going to happen and I’d rather see some growing pains throughout the course of this season including at Wiscy.

    Someone mentioned on another board that not playing Peters has been a waste this season. I don’t agree. The season has gotten to this point because of the injury to Speight who if not injured is probably still starting other than probably being substituted at one point for JOK. The season has now led us to Peters and it’s time to develop Peters because with all due respect to LAK, Speight has some good traits but isn’t good enough in my opinion to be a championship level guy without a championship level running game.

    Peters can potentially raise this program to a higher level. Question for LAK. Whose bandwagon will you be on for the start of next year assuming Peters plays at a decent level? I know that is broad but lets assume Peters looks better than Speight (eye test) or in your case (statistics).

    Would you want Speight back if he is healthy this year? I think the Peters era has at least started and unless he plays at a consistent JOK level then the program/Harbaugh shouldn’t look back. It’s time for this program to find and develop a championship level guy which also includes McCaffrey.

  8. Comments: 725
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Oct 29, 2017 at 12:34 PM

    I’m looking forward to the peters/Mac battle!

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 29, 2017 at 7:28 PM

      Why are you so negative about our ’18 freshman?! The 2019 QB battle might include them too!

  9. Comments: 121
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    coachernie
    Oct 29, 2017 at 12:54 PM

    Now for the bad news… I see JT Barrett and OSU putting up 500+ yards and 50 pts on this D.

    Also, yeah go ahead and give the Heismen to Barrett…perfect… another OSU Heismen winner who will be a total flop in the NFL.

    • Comments: 502
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Oct 29, 2017 at 1:08 PM

      I think UM will actually do a relatively good job defensively on OSU. Should be a great game. Brown has to develop as a more balanced coordinator. What this defense needs more than anything else is an offense that helps them out a little bit by giving them a bigger margin to work with. An offense that puts 24 pts on the board makes this team pretty solid and tough at home.

      • Painter Smurf
        Comments: 205
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        Painter Smurf
        Oct 29, 2017 at 8:31 PM

        They just need experience. UM has a ton of first year starters out there and opposing OC’s have found some wrinkles to put the young LB’s and secondary into tough spots. I can see this being a championship caliber defense again in ’18 (as it was in ’16)

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 29, 2017 at 10:53 PM

        They did a great job last year. Unlikely to repeat it with the dropoff in talent and experience. Plus OSU improving a lot offensively (from S&P 23 to 2). The matchup looks more promising next year, though traveling to Columbus won’t help.

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