Michigan’s wide receivers aim to put struggles behind them

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan wide receiver Grant Perry is aware he has to take on a certain responsibility within his position group.

Perry is one of  the Wolverines’ veteran wide receivers. He had mentors such as Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, who are now in the NFL. Now, Perry has to be a mentor to a young group of receivers that has taken its lumps so far this season.

The wide receivers’ growing pains are a metaphor for the current state of the Wolverines. They have promise. They have talent. They’ve made noticeable mistakes in an offense that continues to form its identity.

Saturday against Indiana, Michigan (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) will face a defensive-minded Hoosiers team, but the Wolverines need to get their wide receivers more involved in the offense. Michigan is eighth in the Big Ten in passing offense (218 yards per game), and Perry and tight ends Sean McKeon and Zach Gentry account for 522 of Michigan’s 1,090 completion yards and 3 of Michigan’s 4 receiving touchdowns.

Michigan’s top 5 receivers

Player Games Catches Yards Touchdowns
Grant Perry 5 18 224 1
Sean McKeon 5 14 179 0
Tarik Black 3 11 149 1
Zach Gentry 5 6 119 1
Kekoa Crawford 5 7 99 1

Michigan will get a boost with the move of Drake Harris from cornerback to wide receiver; the Wolverines initially recruited the redshirt junior as a receiver. But the move could be superficial when it comes to filling the hole left by Tarik Black.

Black was arguably Michigan’s most polished freshman receiver, but he underwent surgery to repair a crack in his left foot following the win against Air Force on Sept. 16.

Five-star recruit Donovan Peoples-Jones is Michigan’s most likely hope, as far as developing as a wide receiver for the long term. Peoples-Jones continues to learn the ropes as a freshman, but he has to develop the savvy that older receivers have. He also is working at punt returner, and special teams coach Chris Partridge said the two roles go hand in hand as they relate to Peoples-Jones’ growth at wide receiver.

“He’s got that ability and he’s big, so he can run through those tackles [as a returner],” Partridge said of Peoples-Jones, who has 3 receptions for 60 yards. “He’s fast, so he can break it open when he makes them miss. And I think that translates as a receiver, too. He’s got all the qualities you want. A guy who can catch the ball on a short route and take it all the way by making a guy miss and outrunning people. He traps the ball, so deep balls are something he can do. It absolutely translates.”

But the offense needs to produce, and Perry’s leadership will be key for the Wolverines. This is where the Wolverines need to look at their mistakes constructively as they prepare for the heart of the Big Ten schedule. Particularly the wide receivers.

When Perry’s younger teammates make mistakes — or when they do good things — he gives them advice.

“One thing I really preach is a really short memory,” Perry said. “Whether it’s a great play or it’s a bad play, one thing I tell them is, ‘Amnesia. Forget it. Totally forget about it, whether it’s a great play or a bad play, because it’s about the next play.’ That’s what the game is. It’s always the next play. You can’t sit and think about what you did before. You’ve got to move on.”

The post Michigan’s wide receivers aim to put struggles behind them appeared first on Land of 10.

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