Welcome to the Reaction Roundtable, a new feature we are debuting at Maize n Brew. Each Sunday this football season, three of our staff members, Kevin Bunkley, Drew Hallett, and Josh LaFond, will share their instant thoughts, analysis, musings, and (attempted) humor on Michigan’s’ performance the previous day. It will be a free-flowing conversation, like the one you had with your best friend on the couch or the buffoon at the bar yesterday, with no form, rhyme, or reason. And, by the end, we will wrap up what you need to know before the next game week.
Kevin Bunkley: Well we’re one man short this week (safe travels Drew). My lone question after yesterday’s game: Is this the quarterback we’ve been looking for, based on one game against a weaker opponent?
Josh LaFond: I think it’s got to be. Brandon Peters has game changing talent and potential, and thrusting him into this slate of games against Rutgers yesterday, Minnesota next week, and Maryland the following week, that’s the best case scenario for him. Peters now has time to work out the kinks without much blow back.
Yesterday — albeit a small sample size — he showed that he has what it takes to be a steady quarterback for the Michigan offense.
I forget who said this, but this week I heard something interesting… playing quarterback at Michigan is the hardest thing to do in all of sports. Why is that? Remember this, the winged helmets show the defenders (and us at home) who the quarterback is looking at, there’s no hiding it. If you’re staring down a receiver gosh darn the defense can see it even if they can’t see your eyes. Yesterday, as I was watching Brandon Peters line up under center, I not only watched where the receivers were and Brandon’s movements but I watched the lines on the helmet. And I’ll say this, they weren’t locked into one guy, they were scanning the field. That’s a VERY promising thing, considering it’s only his first real look at extended live game play.
Going through progressions is something we know by now that John O’Korn struggled with. Brandon Peters has his reads down already and that’s a great sign moving forward.
Kevin: Peters was forced to scramble a couple times, and he hit his receiver square in the numbers with a sidearm throw escaping a tackle. That to me proved he’s farther along than we all thought. Michigan really didn’t need him to do much other than not give the ball away and help bleed the clock. However, he sparked the offense and woke the home crowd up. Pretty great.
The tricky part is yet to come, of course, with tougher opponents looming, but maybe the staff can just give him a slow drip of the playbook each week for what the scheme is to attack the defenses.
I’ll be eager to see how the fanbase deals with his adversity. As soon as he throws an interception, will it all be back to doom and gloom or are people just pleased to see Harbaugh finally make a change? I don’t know which it will be at this point.
Josh: I’m trying to temper my expectations but geez, it’s hard to.
Let me ask you this then, and it might lead into kind of a hot take which isn’t too hard for you (I kid I kid). It’s a long winded question so bear with.
With the run game where it is, the offensive line improving, receivers getting better separation, and now, finally with Brandon Peters under center, does this offense, coupled with the still elite defense, have a chance to go into Madison and upset the Badgers and maybe even knock off the Buckeyes at home?
Kevin: I don’t think Wisconsin is that good, so if Michigan controls the time of possession and limits turnovers, there’s a good chance. Peters isn’t the focal point of Michigan’s offense, the running backs are. Use all of them, and make Wisconsin force him to throw. Wisconsin is not Penn State.
That still leaves Ohio State. I’ll feel better about Michigan’s chances against them after I see Peters and this offense more and more over the next few weeks.
Josh: I agree with you about Wisconsin. Who knows, by then Peters might be given the reins to the offense. I think it’s really, REALLY good that Wolverines go on the road to Maryland before traveling to Wisconsin, and it’s a game that Michigan should win.
When you can go on the road and win, that only helps raise your confidence. So getting that matchup the week before arguably one of the three most important games of the year helps Michigan’s chances in that game.
I don’t want to look too far ahead, but I will. If they can somehow rattle off these next three wins in a row, including what would be the marquee win of Harbaugh’s tenure thus far against what will likely be a Top-5 Wisconsin team, all bets will be off for the Ohio State game - and I can’t wait.