Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh describes how he will evaluate quarterback Brandon Peters this week, ahead of the game against Minnesota. Angelique S. Chengelis, Detroit News
Ann Arbor – While Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will not definitively announce his starting quarterback for Saturday’s game against Minnesota under the lights at Michigan Stadium, he has weighted it toward Brandon Peters.
Peters, a redshirt freshman, got his first substantial playing time last week against Rutgers and gave the Wolverines a noticeable spark in the 35-14 victory. He led them on four touchdown drives, including his first three series, after taking over from starter John O’Korn with 7:01 left in the first half.
He was 10-of-14 for 124 yards and a touchdown, the Wolverines’ first passing touchdown in 15 quarters.
“It’s likely he’ll start,” Harbaugh said Monday at his weekly news conference. “We’ll see.”
And then Harbaugh threw some math into the starting quarterback equation.
“Sometimes I’m not clear,” Harbaugh said. “We’re going to try to really build on what Brandon did in the ballgame. We’re going into this game, we’re going to prepare both quarterbacks. Brandon is definitely going to play. The 51 percent would be on the side of him starting.”
O’Korn started the last four games after taking over late in the first quarter at Purdue on Sept. 23 when starter Wilton Speight was injured. O’Korn has completed 55 percent of his attempts and thrown five interceptions to one touchdown.
After the Rutgers game, Harbaugh said he felt good about Peters’ performance.
“Feel good about him taking the next step and being the starting quarterback and getting a great week, now knowing he’s the starting quarterback in practice,” Harbaugh said Saturday after the Rutgers game. “As I sit here now that’s the way I feel about it.”
Early during Monday’s news conference, Harbaugh said the plan was to continue to prepare both O’Korn and Peters for the Minnesota game.
“Not naming a starter today,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see how the week progresses. Our system is a meritocracy where the best players play. It was time for Brandon to play (against Rutgers). He went in, acquitted himself very well. He will play again this week.”
Harbaugh, saying he was trying to be more clear, explained that he wants to see how Peters performs in practice this week.
“Put a stamp on what he did in the game (against Rutgers and) in practice this week,” he said.
There’s plenty for Peters to build on, Harbaugh said, now that he knows what it feels like to be in game action.
“Build on the successes he had in the ballgame,” Harbaugh said. “And a real good full week of practice. As we said, nothing’s going to change in terms of how we’re going to prepare both quarterbacks. It’s likely that, as I said, Brandon will play. It’s likely he’ll start. We’ll see.”
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Center Patrick Kugler said it was “business as usual” when there was a quarterback change against Rutgers.
“We didn’t even know Brandon was going in until we heard the crowd roar and saw Brandon go in the huddle,” Kugler said. “Nothing changes for us.”
Kugler joked that Peters’ voice cracked a bit when he first got in the huddle. Harbaugh told a large group of reporters in Chicago for the Big Ten kickoff that Peters had to work on getting louder in commanding the offense.
“When he first got here, we could barely hear his cadence,” Kugler said. “He’s a very soft-spoken guy and he’s really grown up in that aspect of a vocal leader, and you need that from a quarterback, so hopefully he’ll continue that.
“He’s more vocal. He’s not playing quiet anymore. He’s a younger guy still. You’re going to have some hiccups with a young quarterback, but he’s really confident in his play right now.”
MINNESOTA AT MICHIGAN
Kickoff: 7:30 Saturday, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor
Records: Minnesota 4-4, 1-4 Big Ten; Michigan 6-2, 3-2
Line: Michigan by 15