Ann Arbor – Deep passing routes are about timing, and at least one Michigan receiver said that has been an issue through the first three games of the season.
Michigan defeated UNLV, 28-7, on Saturday, and while the run game seemed to be clicking, quarterback Jake Rudock continues to struggle hitting receivers on big-gain throws.
Rudock, a graduate transfer from Iowa where he started the last two seasons, was 14-of-22 for 123 yards and had an interception and touchdown. More glaring than the turnover, although he's had five through three games, were his missed throws. He threw incomplete to tight end Jake Butt in the end zone in the first quarter, but followed that with a 5-yard touchdown pass to De'Veon Smith. In the second quarter he threw over Drake Harris' left shoulder and Harris caught the pass out of bounds, and early in the second half he threw incomplete to a wide-open Drake Johnson.
"It's fair to say timing is off because that's why we don't complete the plays," said receiver Jehu Chesson, who had 12 yards on one reception and a 36-yard touchdown run.
"It's just a level of consistency that needs to happen and develop throughout the week, because you need to be a State Street receiver (do well in practice) before you can be a Big House receiver. Once you start making those plays consistently on State Street, then it will show out here in the Big House."
Since the Utah game, through the Oregon State game and now UNLV, it is clear the deep throw has been difficult for Rudock. Rudock had two deep overthrows at Utah, and opened the Oregon State with an overthrow on the first play of the game.
Chesson, however, said the receivers must share the blame.
"Yeah, I am frustrated because it's our goal," Chesson said. "Our goal as a receiver is to catch the ball when it comes your way regardless how it's thrown. We haven't been living up to that expectation. That goes on me and Amara (Darboh), being the leaders of the group.
"The team needs us, flat out. There's no sugarcoating it. We need to make those plays when we have the opportunity because you only get so many opportunities during a game.
"I'm putting that on the receivers because we can control how we run our routes, we can control if we catch the ball or not. ... We have a saying: 'If we're one-on-one we're open.' So we didn't make those plays."
Rudock arrived here in mid-May after graduating from Iowa. Chesson suggested it takes more time to develop the kind of rhythm and timing needed.
It's on the receivers, he said, to never give up or slow down on a deep route.
"It's just understanding your quarterback, understanding the defender, and doing everything full speed because that's the biggest thing with timing," Chesson said. "It's hard. I'm not excusing anybody or anyone from not going full speed. We try to go full speed.
"But when your adrenaline is pumping in the Big House, obviously you're going to run faster. The struggle is to stay consistent -- run as fast as I am running in the game in practice. You can see the inconsistency because it shows up on the field."
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was asked not only about Rudock's five interceptions but the lack of big pass plays. He said he's not nearly as concerned with statistics as others seem to be. Harbaugh did say the wind was challenging for throwing the ball.
"We'll just keep striving to get better in every area," Harbaugh said. There's areas of improvements for our football team."