Redshirt freshman quarterback Steven Threet doesn’t know when he’ll play next. His status for Saturday’s game against Northwestern remains doubtful, in many ways.

Clif Reeder

He hasn’t recovered from the concussion he suffered two weeks ago at Purdue. He didn’t practice Sunday and while his condition is improving, he still has headaches.

But even if Threet is healthy enough to play against Northwestern, he might not start anyway. Redshirt sophomore Nick Sheridan turned in one of the best quarterback performances of the Wolverines’ season against Minnesota. He didn’t turn the ball over or take a sack, and saw the field better than he did earlier in the season.

“The way we do things here, you may start on Tuesday but not on Wednesday,” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. “You may start on Wednesday but not on Thursday. The guys have to earn their stripes every day.”

In some ways, a healthy Threet would create a similar environment to fall camp, when the two quarterbacks competed for the starting job. There is just one difference now: both quarterbacks have proven they can play well at times.

Threet has developed into a more effective quarterback, and Sheridan showed clear improvement against the Gophers.

“To me that’s encouraging,” Rodriguez said. “(Having two capable quarterbacks) is a good situation to have.”

If Threet is healthy enough to practice, the two quarterbacks will split reps with the first team equally.

Rodriguez said he will continue to use freshman Justin Feagin as a more mobile option at quarterback, as he did against Minnesota. He said there’s a possibility Feagin could throw the ball as well, but his arm isn’t as strong as Threet’s or Sheridan’s.

Minor dinged up: When listing junior running back Brandon Minor’s ailments, it might be easier to list the parts of his body that aren’t banged up.

Rodriguez said yesterday that Minor, who left Saturday’s game in the third quarter, was experiencing soreness in his ribs, shoulder and wrist.

Minor has undergone some tests to determine the extent of his injury and will not practice today, so his status for this weekend is questionable.

Minor has battled injuries all season but has emerged as the starting running back in the last few games.

Freshmen Sam McGuffie and Michael Shaw will be the top options at running back if Minor can’t play.

Junior Carlos Brown, who has been out with a foot injury since the Wisconsin game, will not play until he can go an entire practice without limping.

In the dome: For kickers, playing in the Metrodome raises expectations.

The indoor conditions allow them to perform without worrying about the factors they would face outdoors.

It showed for fifth-year senior kicker K.C. Lopata, who tied a school record with five field goals Saturday. The performance was good enough to earn him Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

Before last weekend, redshirt junior punter Zoltan Mesko was excited about the opportunity to kick in the Metrodome, and Rodriguez said Mesko was “killing” the ball during warmups. However, it didn’t continue in the game, as just one of his three punts went longer than 40 yards. His net average of 36 yards on the game was more than six yards less than the team’s nation-best 42.16 average.

But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a factor.

He picked up a first down with his legs on a first-quarter fake punt — his second successful fake of the season. With two carries for 20 yards, Mesko leads the team with an average of 10 yards per carry.

“He’s probably not as fast as he thinks he is on the fake punt,” Rodriguez said. “He looked like he was running in slow motion.”

Notes: The Ohio State game on Nov. 22 in Columbus will kick off at noon and air on ABC. … Redshirt freshman right guard David Molk, who injured his toe at the end of the Minnesota game, is fine. … Lopata is the third Wolverine to earn a conference’s honor this year. Redshirt sophomore middle linebacker Obi Ezeh received was named defensive player of the week after his 15-tackle performance against Utah, and junior defensive end Brandon Graham earned the same award after his three-sack game against Wisconsin.

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