Michigan WRs Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black will break out in 2018

During the week, Land of 10 reporters following the Wolverines answer questions on the minds of Michigan fans. Submit a question or suggest a topic by sending a tweet here to Rachel Lenzi. Check back Monday through Friday as we answer the Michigan Question of the Day. Go here to see our previous answers. 

Do you see Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black having a bigger year in 2018?

Michigan wide receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black will have breakout seasons. In fact, they need to.

Their production as sophomores this fall, whether in yardage, touchdowns or better blocking, will be imperative for Michigan’s success in 2018.

Michigan cannot afford to have another subpar passing game like it did in 2017. The Wolverines finished 11th in the conference in passing offense (171.2 yards) and had only nine passing touchdowns. It’s an alarming dip in the Jim Harbaugh era; Michigan was seventh in passing yards in 2016 (212.0) and fourth in 2015 (237.7).

The lack of production last season came from the fact that the receivers were too inexperienced, particularly Peoples-Jones.

The talent is there for Peoples-Jones. The timing, as a freshman, simply wasn’t. Too many drops. Too many “too closes” or “just a few inches away.”

Peoples-Jones had 227 yards and 3 touchdowns on 22 receptions in 2017. He too often looked like a freshman as he got manhandled by defenders who forced him to set his pace. Peoples-Jones didn’t assert himself as a receiver and make defenders work to stop him. Also, Peoples-Jones had to contend with the weight of the expectations thrust upon him as a 5-star recruit.

The biggest barometer will be how Peoples-Jones learns from his mistakes. Will he force the play instead of being forced to play? That will define 2018 for Peoples-Jones as much as his statistics.

The absence of Black hurt Michigan, too. As a freshman, he stepped into Michigan’s offense with ease. Black was on pace to for a respectable 600-plus receiving yards until he sustained a broken left foot that sidelined him for eight games.

Instead of making up for mistakes, Black will make up for lost time. Peoples-Jones needs to come out with the same level of vigor.

When Peoples-Jones and Black put it together, the 1-2 punch at wide receiver for the Wolverines will be impressive.

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