Peppers likely to play more offense; Johnson good to go

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jabrill Peppers

Ann Arbor – Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers got his first real exposure on offense against Michigan State and it’s likely he will see more time on that side of the ball.

Peppers, who plays primarily on defense and as a kick returner, had two catches for 35 yards against the Spartans.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh before the season said he anticipated Peppers would be a three-way player this fall. He was asked Monday during his weekly news conference advancing the Wolverines’ game at Minnesota on Saturday if Peppers will get more snaps on offense going forward.

“Yes, possibly,” Harbaugh said. “As always, you would like your opponent to understand all the possibilities and let them think about that. But very much a possibility.”

Back to basics

Harbaugh offered more details during his weekly Monday night radio show about how the players practiced last week coming off the MSU loss and in advance of a Saturday off.

“I was inspired, the way our team practiced, the way we improved,” he said. “Tuesday’s practice, we went back to a training-camp type of practice, a good three-hour practice. Then Wednesday, we went back to our roots, spring ball, and had a four-hour practice, a lot of good football, and came back on Sunday.

“Usually with past teams I’ve had, when you give two to three days off, they come back rusty physically and even rustier mentally. That wasn’t the case with our team. They came back sharp, like no team I’ve ever had. I was really inspired. It made you think they have aspirations.”

Memories of the Brown Jug

Michigan doesn’t play for many trophies, but the Wolverines do play for the oldest.

Michigan and Minnesota will play for the Little Brown Jug in the oldest trophy game in college football. It’s the 95th time the Little Brown Jug is on the line, although this will be the 102nd meeting between the teams.

“One of the great trophies, I think,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve always remembered it that way and we’ll approach it the same way, that we want it.”

Michigan has won the meeting 73 times, but lost the Jug last season in Ann Arbor, 30-14. Harbaugh knows what it’s like to lose to the Gophers. He had quarterbacked the Wolverines to a No. 2 ranking the week of the Minnesota game on Nov. 15, 1986, but lost, 20-17.

Harbaugh was asked about the current Minnesota team.

“They whipped us pretty good last year when you snap on the film of that game,” he said. “Resilient football team. Very good defensive scheme. Extremely well-coached – Jerry Kill’s a fantastic coach.”

UM's Lewis a semifinalist for Thorpe Award

Run faster, A.J., run!

Tight end A.J. Williams has nine catches for 99 yards this season, in part, Harbaugh said, because he started to run faster. Williams lost weight, so that helped, but he also was encouraged.

“He worked extremely hard at it and just, ‘Please, will you run faster, A.J.?’ That has seemed to help,” Harbaugh said, drawing laughter.

“He’s running faster. It’s noticeable. He’s the one that’s done the work on that, and it’s made him a better player. You’ve seen some results and I think you could see more. More dividends could play off and that’d be good for him and good for our football team. He’s conscious of it. That’s a good thing. Sometimes that works. I’ve seen it work before. ‘Will you please run faster?’ and then they do, so hope we keep going in that direction because he’s got it in him."

Johnson ready

Tailback Drake Johnson, who played sparingly the last two games, is healthy and expected to play at Minnesota.

Johnson has 128 yards rushing on 26 carries and has two touchdowns.

“Do expect him to be ready to go,” Harbaugh said.

Freshman receiver Brian Cole, however, is still not healthy enough to return, he said. Cole played in the first two games of the season. Harbaugh was asked about a potential redshirt for Cole.

“We don’t really talk about that,” Harbaugh said.

Drake Johnson