It remains unclear who will start at quarterback for No. 7 Michigan, which did not play Saturday, as the Wolverines begin game-week preparations Monday for the annual in-state rivalry game against Michigan State.
This year’s game will be the first primetime meeting in the series as the two will face each other Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Michigan Stadium.
Starting quarterback Wilton Speight was knocked out late in the first quarter of the Purdue game on Sept. 23, and last Monday Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said if the Wolverines played last Saturday, Speight would not be available.
Speight appeared to injure his neck on a late hit that Harbaugh called “egregious.”
Backup John O’Korn led the Wolverines to four touchdowns, including 3-for-3 in the red zone – the Wolverines had made one touchdown in 10 previous red-zone trips – in a 28-10 win. O’Korn was 18-of-26 for 270 yards and a touchdown.
The Wolverines say they are confident in O’Korn.
“We believe in John,” offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr. said last week. “John’s been here three years, he knows the offense very well. He’s next man up. That’s our motto about everything.”
arbaugh praised Speight and O’Korn during his radio show last Monday night.
“It’s a good feeling to see Wilton start, won three games, John comes in the fourth game, wins that,” Harbaugh said. “Really happy for him. Really happy to see him have success that way. That’s the quarterback’s job, as we define it – make sure the team doesn’t lose. John did a great job of that, Wilton did a great job of that.”
Under Pep Hamilton, in his first season as Michigan’s pass-game coordinator, O’Korn has shown technical improvements and also developed more confidence. O’Korn said during preseason camp that he and Hamilton clicked.
“(I’ve) seen the improvements,” Harbaugh said. “The throwing posture – Coach Hamilton coaches that extremely hard and John was very receptive to it.”
Tailback Chris Evans said during the offseason that O’Korn would call him “out of nowhere” and ask him to catch passes.
“I told him after the (Purdue) game I wasn’t surprised,” Evans said last week. “I saw his hard work unfold.”
Harbaugh was impressed how quickly O’Korn settled in against Purdue.
“Really happy for John,” Harbaugh said. “He’s had a great offseason, spring game, spring practices, training camp. He’s confident, trained up and got into the game and was seeing things really good right from the beginning. Ran the team. Did a really great job.”
Michigan vs. Michigan State
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor
TV / radio: ABC / WJR 760 WWJ 950
Records: Michigan 4-0, Michigan State 3-1
Line: Michigan by 12.5