By: Will Burchfield
At first, Jim Harbaugh said he wasn’t concerned about the lack of opportunities for Brandon Peters and the passing game in Michigan’s wet, run-heavy win over Minnesota on Saturday night.
“Well, we were running the ball so well. I think 10 yards per attempt. I mean, that’s pretty good,” he said. “I’m sure if we had done it any other way you would have thought, ‘Why didn’t you run the ball more?’ Probably would have got that question, right? Just kept feeding the running game, it was working.”
But later, when asked directly about Peters’ play, Harbaugh admitted he wished he had done more to keep the young quarterback loose — although not necessarily in regard to the play-calling. Peters attempted just 13 throws, completing eight of them for 56 yards and one touchdown.
“The one thing I wish I would have done is just had him throwing a little more during the game,” Harbaugh said. “The sideline gets so tight. Next week we’re going to make a throwing area for the quarterbacks, throw more balls in between series.”
Michigan ran the ball 37 times for 371 yards, but gained just 15 first downs due to several long runs. Minnesota actually had more time of possession, and Peters was partly the victim.
“There were series when he didn’t throw a pass,” said Harbaugh. “I want to keep him more loose on the sideline, going to have to create an area on that sideline for the quarterback to throw between series. I think that’ll help.”
Though he didn’t leave much of an imprint on the game, Peters was steady and mistake-free in his first career start. That’s all the Wolverines needed on a night when they dominated on the ground.
“He didn’t have a lot of opportunities, but the part that impressed me was the couple of hard hits he took he did a great job of seeing it at the last second just out of the peripheral and was able to tuck the ball and not have a turnover,” said Harbaugh. “A lot of those kind of hits, the quarterback gets dislodged from the ball.”
Peters figures to get more chances next weekend against Maryland. The Terrapins are allowing over 250 passing yards per game and have yielded 19 touchdowns through the air, the most in the Big 10. If that trend continues, Peters won’t need to throw on the sideline to stay loose.