For Michigan passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch, measuring quarterback success is partially a numbers game. And through two games for fifth-year senior quarterback Jake Rudock, the numbers aren’t pretty.
Rudock has been responsible for five turnovers as the Wolverines’ starter. He threw three interceptions in the season opener at Utah, and fumbled early in Michigan’s victory against Oregon State before throwing an interception late in the game.
During his career at Iowa, before he transferred to Michigan over the summer, Rudock wasn’t known as a turnover-prone quarterback. In fact, he was one of the best in the Big Ten at limiting giveaways. He threw just five interceptions last season as the Hawkeyes’ starter.
Despite the rough start, Fisch believes Rudock can return toward his career mean. Fisch provided a math lesson to the media Wednesday to explain his point.
“So he’s thrown four, which is two right now (per) game,” Fisch said. “If we can have a few games with zero, he can get right back to his average. If you throw one a game, you throw 12 for the year. If you can get a few games with zero, you can get that number down to about six or seven. So he’s got to do that. Strive for that number, to get to somewhere less than 10 for the year, and try to double the touchdowns. (I’d) like to get to a 2:1 ratio there or more.”
One ratio of Rudock’s that Fisch is pleased with is the number of sacks he has taken. In 76 dropbacks this season, Rudock has been sacked only once, a statistic that Fisch believes is reflective of Michigan’s entire offense.
Somewhat surprisingly, the turnover that disappointed Fisch most was not one of his interceptions, but the lone sack that caused a Rudock fumble in the first quarter against the Beavers.
“That was most the avoidable,” Fisch said. “He had an opportunity to kick it out there when he was hot, and held onto the ball.”
The coach, even while acknowledging room for improvement, is not short on confidence when it comes to his quarterback. He pointed to Rudock’s completion percentage against Oregon State (69.2) as a sign of success, saying that completing 70 percent of passes is a goal he has in mind for his quarterbacks.
Despite Rudock’s reputation as little more than a game manager, Fisch is pleased with the way the Wolverines have attempted to spread the field early in the season.
Fisch is also learning on the job. This season has provided a new experience for the coach, who has worked as an offensive coordinator both in college football and the NFL. Fisch said this has been the first staff he has worked with that makes play calls as a group. Of course, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has the final say, but most decisions are the result of a collaborative effort, unlike on most teams where one coach calls all of the plays.
The experience has been a positive one for Fisch, so much so that it’s something he would advocate for on any coaching staff he works on in the future.
“It’s something that I would always do from now on,” Fisch said.
That’s one success that can’t be broken down by the numbers.