Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh maintains that the status of starting quarterback Wilton Speight, who injured his left (non-throwing) shoulder last week late in the loss at Iowa, is a day-to-day situation.
Harbaugh, making is weekly Thursday morning appearance on the “Jamie and Stoney” show on 97.1 FM, was asked about Speight’s status. All indications this week have been that backup John O’Korn is preparing to start against Indiana on Saturday at Michigan Stadium, in the final regular-season home game. Harbaugh has not offered specifics regarding Speight's injury.
“We’ll see how he feels today. It’s been a day-by-day thing,” Harbaugh told the show. “He’s progressing. I know some people have said he’s out for the year and (I) have not heard that from the doctors. We’ll see how he is today. That’s where we’re at. It’s a day-by-day thing right now.”
Harbaugh explained that the doctors and trainers must first give clearance before Speight can play.
“The way it works, the doctors are in control,” he said. “They say if a player is available, then it’s the trainer’s job to give the coach options and get the player feeling as good as they can be. And then my job is to look at the functionality and see who the best player is for our team. Our doctors and our trainers are not going to allow a player out on the field if they can make an injury worse or if they’re not in a position or protect themselves.”
O’Korn, from all accounts this week from teammates and coaches, is a diligent worker and note-taker who has prepared each week as though he would start. Harbaugh told the “Jamie and Stoney” show that O’Korn, a transfer from Houston, where he was a starter in 2013 and part of the 2014 season, is confident in his ability to run the offense.
“He is a very talented player, very smart player and our team knows that,” Harbaugh said. “They’ve watched him in practices and scrimmages, and we’ve seen him in games this year. He acquits himself very well. The team has confidence in John, and John has confidence in himself.
“It’s still a team game. Everybody has to perform at their best, and I’m confident they will. That’s what it’s going to take, because Indiana is a really good football team, offensively, defensively and special teams. It’s a great challenge for our team. We understand that, and we’re preparing for that now.”
Peppers a Nagurski finalist
Michigan’s versatile Jabrill Peppers is one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagruski Trophy, given annually to the best defensive player in college football by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club.
Peppers, a linebacker, joins Alabama end Jonathan Allen, Alabama linebacker Rueben Foster, Florida State cornerback Tarvarus McFadden and Clemson end Christian Wilkins as finalists.
Peppers, a 6-1, 205-pound junior, has played 13 different position, including on offense and special teams during the 2016 season. Peppers is the second-leading tackler on Michigan’s top-rated defense with 59 (14 of which have been for 63 yards in losses). He has a forced fumble and eight quarterback hurries for the once-beaten Wolverines.