Hate or love it, Rudock is the guy for now
At some point, it crossed your mind last night. It had to.
Somewhere in between one of Jake Rudock’s three interceptions, you thought, it’s time to pull the plug. Let’s see what Shane Morris can do. After all, it can’t be much more frustrating than this. It’s Devin Gardner 2.0. This is what we’ve been waiting eight months for? Where’s this revamped Jim Harbaugh offense? Why does Rudock look so out of sync with the receivers?
In the heat of the moment, those are natural thoughts. In actuality, that’s where those thoughts should’ve ended.
Did Rudock play up to par? No. His turnovers — and Michigan’s poor running game — were the reason they couldn’t get over the hump against Utah. But Harbaugh made the right call to let him try to right the ship.
The idea of Morris might’ve sounded like a better idea, but the reality is Michigan’s offense was not going to turn around with the lefty under center. Were you under the impression that the guy who completed 35 percent of his passes last year was going to provide the spark the Wolverines needed?
For the time being, Rudock has to be the guy.
He has the experience the Wolverines need to operate under center. His calling card at Iowa was that he protected the football. He only threw for five picks all of 2014. In two years with the Hawkeyes, he had one three-interception game. Ironically enough, it came against Michigan.
Rudock looked like a guy that got a late start working with the offense. He looked unsure of himself playing in a new system. Fifth-year senior or not, that’s normal.
His first interception was a complete miscommunication with a freshman receiver. That happens.
Harbaugh was right about his third interception. That was the result of a guy perfectly jumping the route and making the play of the game. It wasn’t the best read, but it was magnified because the worst possible thing happened and it ultimately closed the door on Michigan’s night.
Within seconds of the play finishing, Fox Sports 1 showed a shot of Harbaugh putting his hand on Rudock’s back and talking it over. It wasn’t his best night under center. Nor was it his last.
If nothing else, Rudock developed a nice connection with tight end Jake Butt, who looked every bit like the Wolverines’ future go-to receiver. The touchdown throw in double coverage showed the trust Rudock has in the junior. Butt’s talents are better used with a pocket passer like Rudock on the field.
Amara Darboh flashed his potential, too. And if Rudock was a bit more in sync with Jehu Chesson, he would’ve had two deep touchdown passes.
But it takes time. The good news for Michigan fans — whether they want to hear it or not — is that they have time to build this offense the right way. There’s no one sitting on that Michigan sideline that was all of the sudden going to come in under center and put 30 points on the Utes last night.
Could Rudock have put together a better effort? Certainly he will, especially if the Michigan line protects him the way it did last night.
Michigan fans have grown too used to the quarterback debates in recent memory. And because of Rudock’s Michigan debut, Harbaugh will again have to answer questions about the quarterback position.
But for now, there’s still only one answer.