Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Oregon State/Michigan Preview: Can Rudock Bounce Back?

After Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock finished 27 of 43 passing for 279 yards, 2 touchdowns and a glaring 3 interceptions in last week's season-opening 24-17 loss at Utah, coach Jim Harbaugh decided to let the process play out by naming the graduate transfer, the undisputed starter for Saturday's home opener against Oregon State.

"I thought [Jake] was accurate, that's what he showed in camp," Harbaugh said in Monday's press conference. 

"I thought he managed the game very well, no fumbled snaps or going the wrong way on a handoff. He kept the ball off the ground and showed rally good courage in the pocket."

To expunge any controversy over the quarterback position, the term "or" will not be on this week's Michigan depth chart and Shane Morris will be the back-up.

The most glaring weakness of Rudock's performance at Utah was his inability to connect with receivers in deep-ball situations, specifically two missed connections with wide receiver Jehu Chesson.

"[Chesson] felt like he was open, and slowed down during the route," Harbaugh said. "Those two being on the same page, you don't know if the receiver's going to slow down -- it's almost imperceptible when you're in the pocket ... so that's a big one."

Michigan's Players To Watch For: Running Back De'Veon Smith:

If the Wolverines are to have a chance against the Beavers, their run game must harken back to the days of illustrious running backs like Tyrone Wheatley and Tim Biakabutuka. 

De'Veon Smith's 17 carries on 47 yards at Utah can not be matched again or else Michigan could become one-dimensional and put all of the pressure on Rudock to perform.

Smith will need to dominate from the get go the set the tempo of Michigan's offense.

Tight End Jake Butt:

One of the few bright spots of Michigan's offense came courtesy of Jake Butt.

Against the Utes, the standout tight end had arguably his best game as a Wolverine with eight catches for 93 yards and a touchdown.

Linebacker Joe Bolden:

After leading the way with 13 tackles at Utah, Bolden, along with U-M's stout defense will need another poetic performance on Saturday with the unknown fate of how things will go on the other side of the ball.

All-Time Series History:

Michigan leads the all-time series 4-0 (Last Meeting: 1986, U-M 31, Oregon State 12)

Game Planner:

Oregon State Beavers (1-0) at Michigan Wolverines (0-1)

Location: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI

Time: Saturday, Noon ET

TV/Online: ABC/WatchESPN

Line: Michigan -14

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.