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.
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