Michigan football mailbag: What is wrong with the offense?

Have Michigan football questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Thursday for the Land of 10 Michigan mailbag to talk all things Wolverines. This week, we discuss what is wrong with the offense, why Michigan won’t use its younger quarterbacks and when is the next time Michigan will beat Ohio State.

What is wrong with the offense? Why do both Wilton Speight and John O’Korn telegraph their passes?

Blake Shroyer made a few observations about Michigan’s quarterbacks during the Land of 10 Monday Facebook Live chat. Blake diagnosed a few things about Wilton Speight and John O’Korn: that they look at the receivers, they telegraph passes and don’t “look off” another receiver before throwing a pass.

But the first question is the big one: What is wrong with the offense? It has had its struggles, including the lack of red-zone touchdown scoring, and the lack of protection for its quarterback.

Sacks: Michigan has allowed 16 sacks in its first five games. The Wolverines are one of seven teams tied for 109th in the nation in that category. Only Purdue (17) and Northwestern (19) in the Big Ten have allowed more.

The receivers are young and acting on impulse, not instinct. It makes me think of one of the cardinal rules of catching a ball: catch it first, then make your move. Don’t think about the move before catching the ball. That’s something that has to be learned and refined, especially at the college level.

We haven’t seen a lot of tangible improvement in regards to those little things. The offense is laboring to move — and to progress — and while it’s scoring, the bottom line is that Saturday against Michigan State, it didn’t score enough. And it didn’t capitalize on prime opportunities. I’m immediately thinking of Michigan’s opening drive, in which it finished with a field goal on a drive that took nearly seven minutes. That is definitely not optimal, and a touchdown would have set the tone for the Wolverines.

Another question: If Brandon Peters were to start, would he have these same issues, such as telegraphing passes and lack of misdirection? And would Peters be a quick fix, or would these same issues continue to plague the offense? Given the volume in favor of Michigan giving Peters a shot to start, Michigan fans are willing to take that risk.

We are on Year 3 with Jim Harbaugh. Why won’t he use a quarterback he actually recruited from high school?

Any chance Coach Harbaugh will consider Brandon Peters or Dylan McCaffrey at quarterback going forward?

Why waste more starts on O’Korn if he is done after this year and it is very likely we don’t win the Big Ten?

These questions all fall into their own subsection.

To answer Marty Cornwell and Kenneth Yazsetich’s questions from Facebook on why Jim Harbaugh won’t use a quarterback he actually recruited from high school, he has two: redshirt freshman Brandon Peters and freshman Dylan McCaffrey. Harbaugh, a former quarterback, evaluates not just from the perspective of a coach, but also as a quarterback. And if Brandon Peters isn’t playing, it’s probably because he is not ready despite his solid performance in the spring game. Remember that was in a controlled environment, and Peters has attempted and completed only one pass against live competition this season. It begs the question: Is it worth the gamble? (Michigan fans seem to think so.)

McCaffrey isn’t ready, either, and he likely will redshirt this season (as is standard operating procedure at Michigan under Harbaugh).

Harbaugh has given his vote of confidence to O’Korn, who has prepared for the last two years to be Michigan’s starting quarterback. He was the starting quarterback at Houston in 2013 and 2014. He is better equipped to take on this role. Right now, Peters is O’Korn’s backup, and will become the starter only if something happens to O’Korn.

As for “wasting more starts on O’Korn,” take a different approach: O’Korn is guaranteed at least one more start, barring injuries or a total meltdown. With the panic and outrage that has ensued following the loss to Michigan State last Saturday, it might be best to follow the cliche of “one game at a time.”

Do you think Brandon Peters will get playing time this week?

There are several ways Peters will play Saturday at Indiana. First, if O’Korn needs a breather. O’Korn took this same role in Michigan’s season opener Sept. 2 against Florida after Speight threw a pair of interceptions for touchdowns in the first half against the Gators.

Second, if Michigan blows out Indiana. This is the best (and likely lowest-risk, lowest-pressure) situation in which Peters would play. He completed his only pass of this season in the final seconds of the win Sept. 23 at Purdue — a 4-yarder to Maurice Ways. Relief duty in a game that’s all but decided would only help Peters as he prepares for 2018.

Then, there’s a last resort: if O’Korn gets injured.

To paraphrase what O’Korn has said about how he became Michigan’s starting quarterback, Peters is one play away from being Michigan’s starting quarterback.

Has a team ever won with 5 turnovers?

Katie Kohlert asked this on the Facebook Live chat on Monday, and, yes, Michigan has, in fact, won at least one game with 5 turnovers.

We got an assist from MLive.com in finding this out: Michigan had 3 interceptions and 2 lost fumbles in a 67-65, triple-overtime win Nov. 6, 2010, against Illinois.

Earlier this season, Auburn committed 5 turnovers in a 24-10 win against FCS opponent Mercer — and drew plenty of criticism.

So, it can happen. It just didn’t happen Saturday at Michigan Stadium.

We also explored this in a previous edition of the Michigan football mailbag, and a team actually won a game despite committing 11 turnovers: Purdue had 11 in a 40-21 win against Illinois in 1943.

When will Michigan beat Ohio State?

I answered this on our weekly Twitter chat (11:30 a.m. ET on Tuesdays), but you can only say so much in 140 characters. (Or, if you’re lucky, 280 characters.)

Let’s look at this from a historical standpoint:

Michigan has beaten Ohio State twice since 2001. That easily puts the series in the Buckeyes’ favor, and would lead many to believe that an Ohio State win against Michigan is simply a given at this point. (Some will argue that Michigan should have won the game last season, if not for a questionable first-down spot by the referees that set up Ohio State’s game-winning touchdown.)

Michigan defeated Ohio State in 2002, and again in 2011. So just going on patterns and probabilities, Michigan is on pace to beat Ohio State on Nov. 28, 2020, in Columbus.

We, at Land of 10, however, picked Michigan to beat Ohio State this year.

Michigan is 1-4 against its rivals (Michigan State and Ohio State) in Jim Harbaugh’s three seasons. So, if you’re an optimist, maybe this is the year, and the Wolverines are due to beat their rivals in Columbus.

Bonus time!

Here are my ballots for this week’s Football Writers Association of America/National Football Foundation Super 16 poll and the Land of 10 Power Poll. I’ll include the ballots and links to the polls at the end of the mailbag each week.

FWAA/NFF Super 16 ballot Land of 10 Power Poll
1. Alabama 1. Penn State
2. Clemson 2. Wisconsin
3. Washington 3. Ohio State
4. Penn State 4. Michigan State
5. Wisconsin 5. Michigan
6. Georgia 6. Iowa
7. Oklahoma 7. Maryland
8. TCU 8. Purdue
9. Ohio State 9. Minnesota
10. Washington State 10. Nebraska
11. Oklahoma State 11. Northwestern
12. Miami (Fla.) 12. Indiana
13. Michigan 13. Illinois
14. USC 14. Rutgers
15. Auburn
16. Michigan State

Have a question about Michigan football? Tweet us @Landof10Mich and we’ll try to answer your question in a future mailbag. Check to see if your question already was answered by reading previous Michigan football mailbags here.

The post Michigan football mailbag: What is wrong with the offense? appeared first on Land of 10.

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