'I feel good': Rudock leads UM with record day

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Bloomington, Ind. — Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock doesn’t want to hear people talking about how confident he has seemed in recent weeks.

That’s probably because Rudock has never suffered a lack of confidence.

But something has changed in the last two weeks. Rudock has thrown for 777 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception in wins against Rutgers and Indiana, but his performance against the Hoosiers was most impressive.

“Jake doesn’t play the way he does, we don’t have a chance,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said after the Wolverines’ 48-41 double-overtime victory at Indiana on Saturday. 

While Michigan’s defense struggled to slow the Big Ten’s most prolific offense, Rudock steadied himself and had a record-setting game. He set a single-game Michigan record throwing for six touchdowns, including the 25-yard game-winning throw to Amara Darboh in the second overtime.

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Rudock was 33-of-46 and threw four touchdowns to Jehu Chesson, who finished with 207 yards.

So when did Rudock, the graduate transfer from Iowa, feel like things started to click?

“You guys love that confident term,” Rudock said, smiling. “I feel good, I feel comfortable in our offense. I like what we’re doing. I like the good communication that goes back and forth. I think that’s the biggest thing, when you get with the staff more, you improve on communication, so I’d rather use that word.”

Rudock said developing communication takes time, obviously.

“You need time to understand how game weeks go,” Rudock said. “Summer and fall camp are completely different and also game speed with Jehu and Amara (Darboh) and Jake (Butt). It’s about time it happened and really excited.”

He also ran for 64 yards on seven carries and made two important third-down conversions in the first half. Rudock was Michigan’s top rusher and said deciding to run is mostly instinct.

“It’s a little bit of what you see,” Rudock said. “You see green grass and you know what coverage they’re in from looking at the reads. If they’re manning up, the hole opens, you see grass and (you’ve got) the first down, you go for it.”

Chesson said it’s all about developing communication. The two connected on a 64-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, Michigan’s longest pass play of the season.

“He put it on target and receivers went up and made plays,” Chesson said. “We have big targets. He has so many different options to choose from.”

Rudock also threw touchdown passes to Darboh and Butt. 

Harbaugh, who this week said he believes based on Rudock’s performance against Rutgers that he’s NFL caliber, praised Rudock’s ability to run but is at a loss on why he keeps taking hits after properly sliding.

“The way he’s running with the ball, when he takes off you’re like, ‘OK, that’s going to be a first down,’” Harbaugh said. “Sometimes he’s got 10 to 15 yards to go, but making great decisions, when to pull it down, when to run with it. He’s pretty darn elusive.

“We’re probably going to need to change his slide and just go head first, because he gets no protection when he slides feet first. He slides. He can be flat on the ground and two guys (hit him). Take a shoulder pad right to the helmet and flat on his back and no call. You slide to get protection so you don’t get hit. If they’re going to be allowed to hit him when he slides, then you’re putting yourself in a very vulnerable position to slide on your back.

"Got to look at that. For some reason, (he’s) allowed to get hit in that position. Mind-boggling, but I’ve got to coach him different because I can’t put him in that position.”