|Photo: Paul Sherman|
About 5 minutes into this game, Michigan had their first 2 drives end in 3-and-out punts, and their 3rd drive ended with a De’Veon Smith fumble. With LT Juwann Bushell-Beatty on the sideline getting his knee looked at, the rain coming down harder and Wilton Speight completing only 2 of his first 7 passes, I was having visions of Gary Nova and Rutgers fans storming the field.
It was not looking good.
But once Jabrill Peppers stepped into the backfield…this game went from ugly to wonderful when he took a broken zone-read play 63 yards down to the Rutgers 4 yardline…the only play Peppers didn’t score on when he had the ball in his hands…and from there, the route was on.
In the post-game presser, Harbaugh had a hard time holding back his thoughts on #5.
Gosh, if there’s a better player in the country, I don’t know who it is. I know there’s a lot of great players out there, but this guy, to be able to coach a guy like Jabrill Peppers is a real joy. There’s so much more. There’s nothing he can’t do. It’s the darndest thing I’ve ever seen. My humble opinion is we are looking for a Heisman trophy winner, candidate.”
He’s not going to get any disagreement from this blogger.
One of the true hallmarks of great teams are when the backups come in and there’s not a real drop off in terms of intensity or momentum. Pretty much all of Michigan players got in the game, and from what I could tell, the foot was pressed firmly on the gas the whole time.
That’s great coaching. That’s what championship teams do.
Best of the game
No question, the defense takes home this honor. Rutgers ran 54 plays for 39 total yards (0.7 ypp). They had 5 passing yards. Going down the defensive stat sheet, it’s not until you get to AJ Pearson who was 7th in tackles, that you get to a guy who didn’t have a tackle for loss. Michigan, as a team, tallied 13 tackles for loss…which until late in the game, was more than Rutgers had in yards rushing.
Rutgers didn’t get a first down until their 2nd to last drive about midway through the 4th quarter!
The simple truth is Michigan’s defense was stellar against a horribly bad Rutgers offense. Nothing else needs to be said, really. Its was overwhelming domination, the likes of which we’ve not seen in a very long time.
This is the kind of game that 100 years ago would’ve made some schools shut down their football program. It was an embarrassing game to watch even as a Michigan fan.
I like the kid, and I think he’s better than he showed in the rain on Saturday, but there were some throws that were just off enough to make me nervous early on. Yes, he totally redeemed himself with the 30-yard touchdown throw to Chesson who made a terrific catch in the endzone. Maybe it was the rain, maybe it was the first road venue of the year, whatever it was he seemed off to start the game.
Also worth noting…the ESPN2 commentators were downright terrible on Saturday. Just…that’s all.
OFFENSE: Jabrill Peppers
Just when things were looking rough for Michigan’s offense in the driving rain, Jabrill Peppers put on his cape and took a broken play 63-yards down to the 4 yard line to set up the first of Michigan’s 9 rushing touchdowns of the game. Peppers himself ran the ball 3 times for 74 yards and 2 touchdowns. When he was lined up at quarterback, it was like having Denard back again.
Teams are not going to be able to handle the Peppers zone-read option. Not only will opponents have to game plan for Michigan’s base pro-style offense, but the Peppers spread offense as well. He’s not attempted a pass yet…I suspect that will some against Illinois in order to give Michigan State yet another wrinkle to prepare for.
DEFENSE: Jabrill Peppers
I really wanted to give this to Ben Gedeon, because he had a day against Rutgers. But, you just can’t ignore what Jabrill Peppers brought to the table on Saturday. He only tallied 2 tackles, 1 QBH and half a TFL, but he was everywhere on defense.
Plus, if we’re going to fully recognize just how awesome Peppers really is, we have to give him game balls for all 3 phases.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Jabrill Peppers
I’m just going to leave this right here.
It was called back but who cares. Also, this.
COACHES: Jim Harbaugh
Any coach, or maybe all of them deserve game balls this week. But that’s what happens when you have Jim Harbaugh as your head coach. He’s responsible for all of this. He’s responsible for Don Brown and Tim Drevno and Tyrone Wheatley and Chris Partidge and Michael Zordich at least partially responsible for Greg Mattison.
Also receiving votes: Chris Evans, Karan Higdon, Ty Isaac, Ben Gedeon, Taco Charlton, Ryan Glasgow, Maurice Hurst, Chase Winovich, Jourdan Lewis, Don Brown, Greg Mattison.
2016 Game ball standings
1: Jabrill Peppers (8)
2. Jourdan Lewis (2), Don Brown (2), Jim Harbaugh (2)
3. Amara Darboh (1), Channing Stribling (1), Kenny Allen (1), Greg Mattison (1), De’Veon Smith (1), Jake Butt (1), Chris Evans (1), Mike McCray (1), Wilton Speight (1), Chris Wormley (1), Chris Partridge (1)
Win with cruelty.
Seriously, is another team ever going to kick to Jabrill Peppers again? Even though his punt return TD was called back, (and that was NOT a block in the back on Jourdan Lewis!) that was an impressive return with a nice Barry Sanders-like spin-move. Much like Tom Harmon’s all-everything performance against Ohio State back in 1940, Peppers seemed like he did everything but sell tickets and blow up the footballs, Saturday night in Piscataway. Yes, the Heisman winner references are no accident.
Piling On. The noise that Harbaugh was piling on seemed to swell during the game but I haven’t heard much this morning (Sunday). That said, faking an extra point with nearly THREE FULL QUARTERS left to play is not running up the score – it’s football you little babies. As for the second half, was U-M supposed to kneel every snap? For much of the final 2 quarters, Peppers was wearing a cashmere robe, eating bon-bons and trying to figure out which hat to wear for his postgame interviews. I’m calling you babies because that’s what you are.
In the fourth quarter, not counting the two end of game kneel downs, Michigan averaged, averaged 10.64 yards per carry from that point, and scored three touchdowns, all from backups. Michigan did not so much call off the dogs as told the dogs to go out and have fun and don’t get hurt and still put up 21 points. There can be one conclusion from this: Rutgers 2016 is not a good football team.