Happy Labor Day! Welcome to the Daily Brews. This will be an abbreviated version as we continue to wind down from the first week of the season and the holiday.
Let’s get into it.
Ambry Thomas recaps return to the field
The early feel-good story of the Michigan football season was the return to action for cornerback Ambry Thomas, who as recent as a few weeks ago was unsure to even play in the early part of this year, if at all, while dealing with colitis.
Thomas lost a ton of weight while dealing with the ailment and had to work his way back onto the field and into shape. Head coach Jim Harbaugh left the door open early last week for Thomas to return, potentially as soon as the first game, but nobody expected what came next.
Not only did Thomas dress and play against Middle Tennessee State, he made his first career start and had a hand in a pair of turnovers, including an interception and fumble recovery, on the night. It was something that he was not even sure he was capable of.
“It felt real good to.. the fumble recovery and pick built my confidence,” Thomas said. “Going into this game, my confidence wasn’t there because through practice, I didn’t really get enough (reps). In camp, I was probably really practicing... full-go at practice since Monday. It just felt good to get my confidence up and get out there with my brothers.”
The defense got a lift from Thomas’ participation in Saturday’s game and Harbaugh says that the moment was palpable for the team.
“It felt good for all of us,” Harbaugh said. “Everybody on the team, to see him have that success when he got the interception, then he was there to pounce on the fumble. He had some really good plays in coverage, made some tackles. It was good to see him out there playing and having fun. That was the best part of it, to see him with a smile on his face.”
Thomas’ return to the field help alleviate concerns about Michigan’s secondary, which was a bit thin coming into the season outside of Lavert Hill. The great news for Michigan is that Thomas and redshirt freshman Vincent Gray both played extremely well on Saturday, morphing one of the team’s biggest question marks into a potential position of strength to watch moving forward.
Ryan Hayes flawless in debut at left tackle
Jon Runyan Jr. was unable to go in the season opener, which put two redshirt freshman tackles in the starting lineup for the Wolverines with Jalen Mayfield at right tackle and Ryan Hayes stepping in for Runyan. If there were any nerves about his first collegiate game action, Hayes did not show it.
As pointed out by WTKA’s Michael Spath, Hayes was one of the bright spots on the offensive line in what as a unit was an otherwise just okay performance on Saturday night.
How about this for a career debut - 33 drop-backs and redshirt freshman left tackle Ryan Hayes did not allow a SINGLE quarterback pressure. For comparison, one of his veteran teammates allowed 2.5.— Michael Spath (@MichaelSpathITH) September 2, 2019
This is obviously a positive and flashes again the depth that Michigan has built on the offensive line. We are finally entering a moment in the Harbaugh era where there’s very good depth at most of the positions on the team in year five and they have done a terrific job building and developing in the trenches.
Runyan could be back in the lineup as early as this weekend, but it appears the Wolverines have another more than capable youngster waiting in the wings.
Brandon Peters goes off for four touchdowns in Illinois debut
Former Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters made his team debut with Illinois on Saturday in a 42-3 win over Akron and accounted for four of his team’s touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in the victory.
Peters finished the game 14-for-23 passing for 163 yards and three passing scores and added six rushes for 36 yards and a touchdown.
“The Michigan transfer quarterback led the Illini on a 10-play, 64-yard scoring drive, capped by Reggie Corbin’s 3-yard touchdown run, kicking off a successful day for the Illinois offense in a 42-3 win against Akron at Memorial Stadium.
“We wanted to prove a point that we’re going to move the ball all day and do it at our will in the run game,” Peters said.
Lovie Smith said it was important for Peters and the Illinois offense to get off to a good start.
“That’s how he is,” Smith said. “He’s a confident guy.”
Peters finished with three touchdown passes and ran for a fourth score. Without any turnovers.
“My eyes were in the right place most of the time, but I did miss some throws, especially in the red zone,” Peters said.”
Peters gets a shot at Michigan on Oct. 12 when the Wolverines travel to Champaign.
- Tennessee suffered a loss to Georgia State on Saturday much akin to something that happened around these parts oh, say, 11 and 12 years ago. In order to spare its pain, the Vols are breaking up with the College Football Playoff to save face and try and do the right thing.
- USC quarterback JT Daniels suffered a torn ACL during the team’s opener against Fresno State. True freshman Kedon Slovis now takes over at quarterback and head coach Clay Helton’s destiny might be in his hands now.
- There’s already a bit of bulletin board material for Texas and LSU’s showdown this weekend. LSU linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson says Texas QB Sam Ehlinger is “not too much of a threat” because he uses his legs more than his arm. That game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET from Austin on Saturday night.
- Idaho is getting $1.45 million for playing its game at Penn State over the weekend, which is more than twice as much as the next highest payday for an FCS school in a game this season. The Vandals dropped to FCS recently and this deal was agreed to while they were still an FBS college.
That’s it for Monday. Go throw some meats on the grill and grab a six-pack of the coldest beer you can find as we cling on to the final shred of summer freedom.