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Takeaways from Michigan’s Outback Bowl Loss

Tell me a quarterback performance doesn’t win or lose most games and I’ll tell you why you’re wrong

Outback Bowl - Michigan v South Carolina Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines lost to the South Carolina Gamecocks a short time ago in the Outback Bowl, dropping U of M to 8-5 on the season. There were a lot of missed opportunities and many mistakes made which led to the defeat. The Wolverines were up in this game 19-3 and ultimately lost 26-19.

Takeaways from Michigan’s Outback Bowl Loss

Brandon Peters has a long way to go

The most notable storyline coming into the bowl game was Brandon Peters. With quarterback Shea Patterson now in the fold at Michigan, this was a big game for Peters, an audition to be the 2018 starter.

If this was a test, Peters failed it. He had plenty of opportunities and completed less than half of his passes (20-44) for 186 yards and two interceptions. More bothersome was how he missed his targets. There were plays in which there were open options and the ball sailed on Peters. On a key fourth down play, Peters threw long and the ball went out of bounds.

In the red-zone with Michigan down having a shot to take the lead, Peters threw a costly interception in the end-zone. Jim Harbaugh said Peters did some nice things but also had some plays he’d like to have back.

Not only was Peters inaccurate today, his pocket presence was not starting quarterback caliber. He was too tentative, stared down receivers too long, and held onto the football too long instead of firing the football when he should have.

This evaluation does not mean Peters can’t progress, but this was a troubling sight, and shows Harbaugh’s decision of bringing in Patterson was the right one. Michigan cannot go into next season with Peters as the most viable option.

It’s also troublesome how Peters performed with the recent comments he made about Shea Patterson, stating he’s not going to let someone come into his house and take what is his. Well, I did like the comments Peters made, but the quarterback on the field today didn’t display the type of energy needed to run away with a starting job.

There should be reservations about Peters moving forward. Maybe he will improve, but this was a bad day. He could have been the hero, the chances were there.

Too Many Fumbles

Michigan had five turnovers, three of which were fumbles. Karan Higdon, Sean McKeon, and Donovan Peoples-Jones all fumbled, with Jones fumbling on a punt return, the other two on hand-offs.

These turnovers were absolutely brutal to witness, all of which came at bad times in the game and led to points for the Gamecocks.

All I have to say is fumbles are bad.

Defense gave a good effort

Til the last whistle, the Michigan defense was flying to the football, doing whatever they could to keep the team in the game. They were had a handful of times in the second half by South Carolina, but it was hard not to give up points when the Gamecocks offense was spotted with five turnovers.

For seniors like Maurice Hurst and Mike McCray, it is a disappointing end to their Michigan careers. But they can hold their head high knowing they gave it every ounce of effort they possibly could.

2018 has to be better

Jim Harbaugh said it first, the team needs to be better. Losing this game was a big disappointment for him and the fans alike. This was one of the youngest teams in the nation in 2017, but that is no excuse to hide behind. With experience under their belt and a five star quarterback transfer named Shea Patterson potentially leading the Michigan offense, things could turn around in a hurry.

Everyone from Paul Finebaum to Kirk Herbstreit believe Patterson could be a difference maker for Michigan, and by God do they need one. We can dissect plays here and there that should have been called different (two pass plays on 3rd &1 and 4th&1 on Michigan’s last drive), but most of the problems are with the execution of certain players on the field, the quarterback position in particular.

Jim Harbaugh has been unfairly deemed a quarterback guru, that’s not how life works. Not every dog at the kennel can be trained to be a show dog, not every horse can become a thoroughbred no matter how hard you try. I find these analogies to be accurate when it comes to the quarterbacks Harbaugh has had at Michigan to this point. Maybe Dylan McCaffrey or Patterson will be “the one” Harbaugh has been searching for.

In the NFL when a great quarterback goes down, the team goes down with it just like a sinking ship. Look at the injuries to Aaron Rodgers and Carson Wentz this season, with those injuries the big team aspirations have all but disappeared. My point is, the quarterback position is the most important player on the field, he makes or breaks a team and effects the wins and losses of a team more than any other position.

Michigan needs a damn good quarterback to get to where they need to be. Harbaugh knows it. He knows who can be damn good between McCaffrey, Peters, and Patterson far before he announces the starting quarterback next season. I’m highly skeptical Peters is the answer, but there could be bright rays of hope with the other two options. That alone should have Wolverines fans excited for next season.