The good, the bad and the ugly: Rutgers

Sunday, October 29, 2017 - 11:45am

Junior running back Karan Higdon contributed to a 334-yard outing from Michigan's running backs.

Junior running back Karan Higdon contributed to a 334-yard outing from Michigan's running backs. Buy this photo
Evan Aaron/Daily

There’s a new quarterback in Ann Arbor. 

After fifth-year senior quarterback John O’Korn bobbled two snaps and got intercepted, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh knew it was time to make the switch.

The coaches had decided earlier in the week to play redshirt freshman Brandon Peters against Rutgers, and in the second quarter on Saturday, they implemented that plan. Peters came in and led Michigan to three consecutive touchdown drives and a 35-14 win.

The Daily breaks down Michigan’s win in this week’s edition of the good, the bad and the ugly.

The good

Switching to Peters against Rutgers proved to be a great decision for the Wolverines. What Peters showed in the pocket was keen patience and an ability to keep plays alive with his feet. He hit 10 of his 14 pass attempts for a total of 124 yards and threw a touchdown pass to sophomore running back Chris Evans as well.

Granted, Peters’ performance was against the Scarlet Knights’ defense, which is objectively bad. Nonetheless, now seems like the best time to for Peters to take over permanently.

Peters has two favorable matchups — Minnesota and Maryland — before the season’s penultimate game against Wisconsin. The Golden Gophers and Terrapins allow an average of 184 and 277 passing yards, respectively, which should give the young quarterback an opportunity to showcase his arm. The timing should allow Peters to get comfortable before the real tests later in the season.

More than anything else, Peters gave the team and the fans something to be excited about. Peters was Harbaugh’s first quarterback recruit, and when he walked out for his first series, everything changed about Michigan’s offense.

It was dynamic, moved the ball well and wasn’t one-dimensional, like in weeks past.

Peters wasn’t the only Wolverine with a big day, though. The offensive line also excelled specifically in the run game.

Michigan rushed for 334 yards, getting major contributions from junior Karan Higdon and fifth-year senior Ty Isaac. A big reason for the running backs’ success was the offensive line’s blocking. Michigan gave up zero sacks, and just three of the Wolverines’ 51 rushing attempts resulted in tackles for loss.

The bad

Michigan’s defense failed to stop a play that should’ve been familiar.

Last week, when Penn State running back Saquon Barkley lined up for a direct snap on the second play of the game, he burst through the Wolverines’ defense untouched for a 69-yard touchdown run.

Saturday, Rutgers receiver Janarion Grant also took a few direct snaps, and on one of them he ran for a 65-yard score.

The Wolverines ultimately bottled up Grant’s direct snaps after that play, but failing to stop an identical play in back-to-back weeks was not a good sign.

The ugly

For the second week in a row, redshirt freshman kicker Quinn Nordin missed an attempt that he should’ve easily converted. He botched a PAT against Penn State and then missed his only field goal attempt against Rutgers — a 37-yard kick.

Whatever the issue may be, Nordin is still going to be the Wolverines’ field-goal kicker. He’s a fan favorite, and he also carried the team at times through the first three games of the season. If Michigan’s offense runs into red zone trouble again, Nordin could be called upon, and the Wolverines can’t afford to be missing field goals and PATs.

Nordin has hit 14 of 17 field goals, though, so there is reason to believe he can rebound from this two-game slump.