Story by Josh Newkirk
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Michigan’s offense had its opportunities, but three Jake Rudock interceptions were too much to overcome in the end as Utah held on to beat the Wolverines 24-17 in Jim Harbaugh’s debut.
Rudock, who came from Iowa as a graduate transfer during the off-season, threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. But it was his interceptions -- most notably his third one with U-M trailing 17-10 – that was returned for a touchdown – that ultimately cost Michigan in the end.
“We didn’t get the win – that’s the biggest thing,” Rudock said afterward. “That’s always the best way to judge a quarterback, judge a team. We got 11 guys on the field at a time. We couldn’t get the win there.”
Adding: “Obviously, throwing three interceptions is not helping our cause. It’s not good for the team.”
Despite Rudock's struggles, however, Harbugh defended his new signal caller in the post-game presser.
“I thought he was seeing the field extremely well tonight, seeing the defense, seeing the reads, and making really good throws,” Harbaugh said. “The second interception was probably the only ball thrown I can think of right now that wasn’t a good, accurate throw. Everything else I can think of, he made the right read, made the right throw.
“The third one, tip the hat to the Utah player, the nickel, he made a heck of a play on it. I’ll say this about Jake, you throw an interception for a touchdown and then you come back and lead a touchdown drive, I thought that was outstanding.”
Despite his interceptions, Rudock also left some big play opportunities on the field. He overthrew a few of his receivers, which may have led a possible U-M touchdown opportunities.
"We definitely (left some plays on the field),” junior TE Jake Butt said. “We had that corner-and-go on Jehu (Chesson). … We had some shots down field that if we made them it could have been a completely different game. That just falls on us."
Michigan (0-1) next plays host to Oregon State on Sept. 12.