With less than two weeks to go before squaring off against Utah, Michigan is game-planning for the Utes more and more by the day. That’s why the breakdown of snaps between the quarterbacks in the Saturday evening’s practice was likely a forecast of who will get the nod in the opener.
By all accounts Iowa transfer Jake Rudock was given the clear majority of the snaps with the first string offense. He proved worthy of that distinction by turning in a far better performance, highlighted by touchdown passes to Drake Harris and Jake Butt. Prevalent scuttlebutt out of camp during week one had the fifth-year senior putting similar separation between himself and Shane Morris then as well. By the time the Big Ten Network’s cameras descended upon camp earlier this week Morris’ play had improved, but consistency throughout camp appears to be on the side of the newcomer.
So what should Wolverine fans expect if/when he officially named the starter? Former Michigan All American and current Big Ten Network analyst recently broke down Rudock’s game in great detail.
“His whole game was predicated on Iowa being able to run the ball and having a great offensive line and also relying on the defense to create turnovers to get him as many opportunities as possible,” said Ray. “I don’t think Jake Rudock is a 40-50 (times) slinging it, airing it out all over the place, spread quarterback. He’s a pro-style quarterback that can move the chains. He is smart enough to know where to go with the football. Iowa’s problem was that they couldn’t run the ball the same way Iowa used to. Those guys really couldn’t (put together) the 200-300 yard ground game to protect Rudock from having to win the game. They always found themselves in third and long and it is hard for any quarterback to move the chains and be efficient (when that’s the case).”
“I think Rudock can play. I think when he loses his confidence he forces the ball into double coverage or he tries to throw it away and it gets picked off sometimes. Other times he holds the ball too long. “
Those instances, however, are clearly the exception to the rule. Confidence and the ability to take care of the football are among his most noted attributes. The “game manager” moniker is definitely fitting, but that should not be taken to mean that Michigan’s likely signal caller isn’t capable of making plays down the field from time to time.
“Rudock is a kid that will probably get drafted,” said Ray. “He definitely can play the position. I would say if he could throw the ball anywhere from 22-27 times a game behind an offensive line in a system at Michigan that runs the ball 45 times a game… that gives you about 70 plays. You’re still a running team. You throw it just enough to loosen up the defense, play-action, move the football, then protect a lead.”