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With Shea Patterson in the fold, the time is now for Brandon Peters

The Outback Bowl will be an important game for Peters

NCAA Football: Michigan Spring Game Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

With quarterback Shea Patterson now a Michigan Wolverine, Brandon Peters has more competition to deal with this offseason. But Patterson isn’t on the roster just yet, and a big opportunity awaits Peters in a few weeks to create a lasting impression on the Michigan coaching staff.

The time is now for Peters, who knows what next season will bring. His time to make his case for 2018 will be at the Outback Bowl, as the starting quarterback for the Michigan Wolverines.

We’ve seen how things can change in a hurry. First, Wilton Speight announced he would be transferring, and now a transfer-seeking player in Patterson has landed in Ann Arbor. Just because Peters is starting in the Outback Bowl doesn’t mean he will be starting next season. Things change.

We are still waiting to hear if Patterson will win an appeal and be eligible to play in 2018. But at the very least, Peters will be facing stiff competition from Dylan McCaffrey, who impressed his coaches and teammates in practices this season.

If Patterson is allowed to play next season, that’s when things get very interesting and makes this bowl game performance by Peters all the more important. Ultimately, the quarterback competition will be decided by their body of work in practices, but how Peters performs against South Carolina will factor in to the decision making.

The upside of Peters is up in the air, to be determined. His body of work has left a lot of room for improvement, but he’s also shown flashes of starting quarterback talent.

Peters’ best game was his first game (against Rutgers), wasn’t asked to do much the following week (throwing for 56 yards versus Minnesota), and struggled in his last two games, going 18-36 for two touchdowns and no interceptions versus Maryland and Wisconsin.

To this point, Peters has had accuracy issues, problems sensing pressure, holding onto the ball too long, and taking some big licks that surprisingly didn’t end up leading to a fumble recovery by the opposing team.

There were also bullets dodged on passes that should have been intercepted. There was a scramble by Peters where he lost the ball near the goal-line and took points off the board against Wisconsin.

Growing pains are to be expected from a redshirt freshman, therefore a bigger sample size is necessary to reach a judgment on Peters. Maybe with the Outback Bowl under his belt it’ll be known who Brandon Peters is, for better or worse. The 64 pass attempts aren’t enough to objectively declare what type of quarterback Peters is.

There’s also credit to throw Peters way. It appears he knows the offense well, his footwork has been good on bootlegs, and he’s already shown he’s tough, taking a handful of hard hits and getting right back up.

The most notable thing about Peters that can silence the naysayers until they see more from him is a high praise comparison Jim Harbaugh gave him. In 2016 Harbaugh said that there were similarities between Peters and his former quarterback Andrew Luck, that both of them naturally know how to play football.

But what we’ve seen out of Peters to this point is not good enough to get Michigan to where they want to be, he needs to get better. He knows it, but does he have it in his ability to become better? Time will provide the answer to this question.

This storyline alone makes the Outback Bowl a must-watch for any Michigan fan. In some ways, the bowl will feel like the start of the 2018 season. It’s a great opportunity for Peters.