Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters (18) throws a pass in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Oct. 28.
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ANN ARBOR — The title of “Michigan starting quarterback” hasn’t changed Brandon Peters.
He’s still the same shy, bashful redshirt freshman who talks a little bit louder than the squeak of a mouse. That’s not to say he’s intimidated by his new surroundings — he isn’t. Peters keeps the same unruffled demeanor, whether he just threw a touchdown pass or was steamrolled by a defensive lineman.
In fact, that last scenario occurred last week against Minnesota when Cesar Ruiz missed a block and his man flattened Peters. He was slow to get up, but ultimately no damage was done, except maybe to his pride. Peters said it was the first real hit he’s taken since high school.
“Welcome to college football,” he said, laughing.
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Records: Michigan is 7-2, 4-2; Maryland is 4-5, 2-4
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 98.3 FM
Series: Michigan leads 5-1
Favorite: Michigan by 17
“Brandon Peters is the closer with the bases loaded to go close the game out,” offensive coordinator Tim Drevno said. “He's a flatliner. That’s what you want as a quarterback. You don’t want him to get too high, you don’t want him to get too low — you want him to stay within a zone. You don’t want him to get emotionally hijacked because that will spin you out. Brandon has the DNA makeup to be an outstanding football player and quarterback at Michigan.”
In August, Peters discovered just how quickly someone can be passed over in college football. He entered fall camp in a quarterback competition with incumbent starter Wilton Speight and fifth-year senior John O’Korn. Peters introduced himself in the spring with a strong, accurate arm, leading many to think maybe a quarterback controversy was brewing.
Even Jim Harbaugh gave it credence with an open competition during fall camp and a spiel at Big Ten media days urging Peters to bring the volume in the huddle and on the field. But alas, Peters exited the contest about as soon as he entered it. When Harbaugh met with the media two weeks into camp, Speight and O’Korn were vying for the starting job.
“I was making some mental errors I shouldn’t have made,” Peters said. “I think coach lost a little confidence in me throughout camp, and that set me back a little bit. ... Turning the ball over, not making the right reads, fumbling the snap, not calling the play right in the huddle. It was a lot of little stuff. But you can’t get down on yourself; you always have to keep your confidence.”
In the three months that have transpired, Peters has remained steady and assertive, awaiting an opening to prove that August was merely a glitch in an otherwise distinguished career.
After Speight suffered a back injury and O’Korn was ineffective, Peters’ grand opportunity came two weeks ago against Rutgers. His performance was devoid of mental mistakes, and he took command of the position.
Speight informed Peters of all the information he needed.
“He said you can make all the throws, just be confident. Go out there and let it rip,” Peters said.
Peters will start his second game at quarterback Saturday at Maryland.
In his first career start last week against Minnesota, Peters was accurate, completing 8 of 13 passes, but he was a secondary piece as Michigan’s running backs created all the necessary offense to blow out the Gophers 33-10.
There’s been a rhythm with Peters behind center that was missing from the Wolverines for most of the season. The run game has been established through a quarterback who can accurately deliver the football to receivers.
“He was very effective in the first drive,” said Harbaugh, noting Peters was 3-of-3 passing while leading UM to a touchdown. “Did the things to help us win the ball game. Know he can execute all throws, so feel good going forward.”
The future could become murky next week. It was reported by the Detroit News that Speight could return for the Wisconsin and Ohio State games, a subject Harbaugh touched on Monday. He confirmed that Speight is now throwing, though he can’t participate in contact drills.
But if Peters is effective for the third consecutive game, can Harbaugh bench him in favor of someone who has been sidelined with an injury for half the season? He said it won’t be addressed until Speight is cleared to play.
With another quarterback competition possibly in the near future, don’t expect Peters to back down or repeat the errors of prior months.
“I expect it to be a good competition,” Peters said. “Coaches are going to give everyone a chance, so you’ve always got to compete.”
Notes: Michigan ranks in the top 10 nationally in 10 defensive categories, including third in total defense. ... UM has rushed for more than 300 yards in the past two games. ... Michigan has two Maryland natives on its roster — FB Henry Poggi and OL Stephen Spanellis. ... Maryland coach D.J. Durkin, a Bowling Green State University graduate, served as Michigan's defensive coordinator in 2015. ... Michigan, Maryland, and Houston are the only schools in the country to have three different quarterbacks record a victory this season. ... Michigan's tight ends have combined for 39 receptions for 492 yards and two touchdowns. ... The Wolverines need 82 rushing yards to reach 2,000 for the season. ... Michigan has failed to score on just two trips to the red zone this season, both missed field goals. ... UM is first in eight defensive categories in the Big Ten. ... The Wolverines are seventh nationally in rush defense, allowing 102.6 yards per game. They've held six opponents to less than 100 rushing yards this season. ... Michigan leads the country in pass defense (142.8 yards per game). ... Maryland is on pace to play the toughest schedule in the country. Its opponents have a record of 58-29. ... Maryland WR D.J. Moore leads the Big Ten with 58 receptions.
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