TAMPA — As Shea Patterson moved into his University of Michigan dorm room Monday, 1,168 miles to the south, the man whose job he’s trying to take — quarterback Brandon Peters — did all he could to help make Jim Harbaugh’s decision easier.
In a game Peters said would serve as a job interview, he walked in with an untucked dress shirt and forgot his résumé in the car.
Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters (18) finished 20-of-44 for 186 yards and two interceptions in a 26-19 lost against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.
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“I didn’t execute well at all, especially in the second half,” Peters said. “I put a lot of that on me. But I’m not going to let it define who I am as a player. Just learn from it and move forward.”
The Wolverines lost to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl 26-19 after leading 19-3 late in the third quarter. A critical interception and Peters’ overall ineffectiveness contributed to Michigan’s second-half meltdown.
Behind a makeshift offensive line, Peters finished 20-of-44 for 186 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked twice. The Wolverines had just 277 yards of offense and averaged 3.6 yards per play. They also were forced to kick four field goals. Three came in the first half, when Peters was 11-of-23 for 76 yards.
“There’s some really good [throws], and there’s a few I know he’d like to have back,” Harbaugh said, when asked to evaluate Peters’ performance. “But he was battling just like the rest of the guys. There was some error there, a little too much at the wrong time.”
The biggest blunder was an interception on third-and-goal from the 5-yard line, when Peters forced a throw to the corner of the end zone. It occurred midway through the fourth quarter with Michigan attempting to retake the lead. Peters threw another interception on fourth-and-1 on Michigan’s final possession.
“Just learn from everything this past season and just keep working — that’s the only thing you can do,” Peters said. “Don’t listen to the outside noise, don’t let anything define you. Just keep your head down and keep moving forward.”
Michigan’s spring practice could feature one of the most dissected quarterback competitions in the country, among Patterson, Peters, and freshman Dylan McCaffrey.
Despite four losses, including defeats to rivals Ohio State and Michigan State, the month of December seemed to usher in the Era of Good Feelings in Ann Arbor. There’s robust excitement about Patterson and the possibility of 17 returning starters occupying the depth chart. If Patterson is eligible in 2018, a now-or-never season will unfold for the Wolverines and Harbaugh.
But those feelings now have been put on hold.
“A loss changes the vibe,” junior running back Karan Higdon said. “We know that we have real issues that we have to fix. We want to be great, and we want to be a real national championship contender. There are mistakes that we can’t have, including myself. We have to make sure that we work on that during the offseason.”
Black Monday resulted in five NFL head-coaching vacancies.
Which, of course, led to speculation about Harbaugh’s future at Michigan.
The former San Francisco 49ers coach, who experienced significant success in the NFL, shot down any notion the Outback Bowl might be his final game at UM.
“No,” Harbaugh responded when asked directly if Monday was the final time he would coach the Wolverines.
Harbaugh was asked about NFL openings last week in Tampa and responded with annoyance, comparing it to warmed up oatmeal.
Quinn Nordin, who’s known for having an edge, drew the ire of social media after he grabbed his crotch, staring down the South Carolina sideline during the game.
The incident occurred after the Gamecocks called a timeout in an attempt to ice Nordin in the final seconds of the first half. Nordin then made a 45-yard field goal as time expired. As he celebrated en route to the locker room, Nordin looked at the South Carolina sideline and made the gesture.
“In the heat of today’s game, I let my emotions get the best of me,” Nordin wrote on Twitter. “I made an inappropriate gesture and for that I apologize. I will grow and learn from this and will work on conducting myself in a more mindful manner.”
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