Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed starting quarterback Brandon Peters has been entered into the concussion protocol after being taken out of Saturday’s road loss at Wisconsin. Because of the concussion protocol, it is unknown if Peters will be available for Michigan’s regular-season finale at home on Saturday against Ohio State.
“He’ll be evaluated again by the doctors this week to see if he would be cleared for contact,” Harbaugh said, according to The Detroit News. “[John O’Korn] has remained diligent every single week to preparation and the game plan, always sitting on a spring ready to play.”
If Peters is unavailable for Saturday, the offense will be placed back in the hands of O’Korn. Wilton Speight has not been cleared to for contact practices yet as he continues to recover from fractured vertebrae earlier this season.
Michigan’s offense seemed to get a much-needed jolt when Peters was inserted in the offense in place of O’Korn, who had also replaced an injured Speight. Without Peters, Michigan’s offense has not been able to find much offensive success this season, and that could pose a significant problem this week against the rival Buckeyes, who will be playing to remain on the College Football Playoff radar.
As Michigan heads into November, Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh has an important decision to make if Michigan is going to finish the season on a strong note. He’s just not ready to show which way he is heading with it.
Harbaugh is holding off on sharing his decision on what to do at quarterback. After replacing John O’Korn with Brandon Peters in Saturday’s win against Rutgers, Harbaugh is in charge of a bit of a quarterback debate in Ann Arbor with just a handful of games remaining. The offense, which has been sluggish at best all season long under Wilton Speight and O’Korn, seemed to have a bit of a spark on Saturday once Peters got on the field. Of course, Michigan was playing at home against Rutgers so the barometer to determine whether or not this was legitimate hope for a sudden offensive turnaround is highly questionable.
Peters completed 10 of 14 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown on Saturday, but again, it was against Rutgers. With Michigan staying home this week for a primetime showdown with Minnesota with the Little Brown Jug on the line, Harbaugh has suggested both O’Korn and Peters will get playing time against the Gophers. He only went so far as to say Peters is “likely” to get the start over Peters, but the decision is split nearly right down the middle.
Michigan has the Big Ten’s 9th-ranked offense and 11th-ranked passing offense through eight games played this season. Michigan is 3-2 in Big Ten play and has lost head-to-head against second-place Penn State and third-place Michigan State in division play. Michigan will host Minnesota this week and play the next two game son the road against Maryland and Wisconsin before ending the regular season at home against Ohio State.
Michigan saw a bit of a spark on offense two weekends ago in a road win at Purdue when John O’Korn took over at quarterback in place of an injured Wilton Speight. With the Wolverines coming off a bye week ahead of a game against in-state rival Michigan State, Jim Harbaugh says O’Korn will be getting the start this week and beyond while Speight remains unavailable.
Various rumors were spreading online about Speight potentially being done for the year, but Harbaugh did not go so far as to confirm those reports. Instead, Harbaugh played it safe by going on a much shorter timeframe to worry about. Regardless of how long Speight is out, Harbaugh should trust O’Korn to run the offense in the meantime. Whether it was a one-game spark against a young program still in the early stages of competing or not, O’Korn has what it takes to lead Michigan’s offense for as long as he is needed. In fact, he may end up keeping the job anyway if he performs well by the time Speight is able to play again.
Speight had completed just 54.3 percent of his pass attempts this season with three touchdowns and two interceptions, but both of those interceptions occurred in the season opener against Florida. But he had gone the last two games without a touchdown pass before leaving the Purdue game early.
O’Korn completed 18 of 26 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown with an interception against Purdue in a 28-10 victory in Big Ten play.
Michigan hosts Michigan State this week and travels to Indiana and Penn State the next two weeks.
Wilton Speight and John O’Korn are the two leading candidates to be Michigan’s starting quarterback when the 2017 season opens against Florida. That’s the message that is being delivered by Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh as the Wolverines continue with preseason practices in Ann Arbor.
“It’s not to say anything is set in stone right now, but I think that the two guys have created a little bit of separation,” Harbaugh said Friday following practice, according to Dan Murphy of ESPN.
Speight was Michigan’s starter for the 2016 season and entered the spring as the most likely starter for the offense going into the fall. O’Korn, who transferred from Houston started one game in place of an injured Speight last season, was expected to push for the starting job. Harbaugh has kept the competition wide open from the start of practices, but Harbaugh’s latest comments suggest redshirt freshman Brandon Peters is no longer in the running for the starting job and will be designated in a backup role for the upcoming season.
With such a big game to open the new season, Harbaugh may choose to hold off on naming a starter for as long as possible. Such a move would be a typical coaching move seen around college football in an attempt to not give the opponent any advantages. It’s a tad silly, but makes sense from a gamesmanship point of view as well. There is no timeline for when Harbaugh is expected to name a starter, so until then it is still a bit of a guessing game.
Michigan kicks off the 2017 season in Arlington, Texas against the Florida Gators. The Wolverines are coming off a 10-3 season that ended on a bit of a sour note. Harbaugh has also said he hopes the way last season ended drives the Wolverines to take the next step this season despite a good amount of roster turnover in the starting lineup.
Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight did not have a terrific showing in the spring game last weekend, but head coach Jim Harbaugh says he is still the top quarterback on the depth chart coming out of the spring. That said, Speight could be under pressure to keep it once the summer rolls along and the 2017 season gets underway.
“It’ll always be (a competition,)” Harbaugh said when speaking to the media, according to a Detroit Free Press report from Mark Snyder. “Still over the course of the whole spring practice, Wilton on our depth chart, he’s No. 1. But it’s a meritocracy. By your effort and by your talent you will be known. That’s a good thing for our football team.”
Harbaugh’s comments are none to surprising. The 2017 season could be a slight step back for Michigan coming off a big step forward for the program in 2016, but Harbaugh has always been one to ramp up the competitive fire in the program. It has not led to a Big Ten division championship yet, but there is no question it has helped get Michigan back on the right track as a program. No position is considered safe under Harbaugh, who will focus on playing the best possible players at every position for a chance to improve as a team and win games. That’s his job, after all.
Speight played 12 games for the Wolverines last season. In those 12 games, Speight passed for 2,538 yards and 18 touchdowns while completing 61.6 percent of his pass attempts and was picked off seven times. Other options that could replace Speight if a chance is deemed necessary would include senior John O’Korn (who previously started at Houston) and Brandon Peters, who was also less-than-impressive in the Michigan spring game.