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Michigan Has No Chance in Big Ten If Jake Rudock's Passing Problems Continue

Published by Bleacher Report on Sat, 19 Sep 2015

It was no surprise that Michigan rolled UNLV 28-7 Saturday in Michigan Stadium. First-year head coach Tony Sanchez faces a huge challenge in rebuilding the Rebels from one of college footballs toughest situations.It was also no surprise that Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock committed another turnovera poor interception. And thats a major concern for the Wolverines. As Jim Harbaugh and company prepare for Big Ten play, the purported game manager has done a poor job of just that.Saturday, Rudock was rather unimpressive, completing 14 of 22 passes for 123 yards with one touchdown and one interception. While he is the most consistent of Michigan's quarterbacks, which helped him beat out junior Shane Morris for the job, this isnt the kind of consistency that Harbaugh had hoped for.As Iowas starting quarterback last fall, Rudock had 16 touchdowns against five interceptions in 345 pass attempts, ranking fourth in the Big Ten in pass efficiency. Through three games at Michigan, he already has five interceptions in 91 attempts. If that trend continues, the Wolverines wont contend in the Big Ten this fall.Rudock was never known for his explosive, game-changing nature. Iowa fans clamored for backup C.J. Beathard to play more last fall, and they finally got their wish when head coach Kirk Ferentz elevated Beathard above Rudock on the depth chart following a disappointing 7-6 season. Rudock used the graduate transfer rule to land at Michigan, and his steady play earned him the starting role.While Harbaugh prefers a balanced offense, Rudock hasnt held up his end of the bargain. In a 24-17 loss at Utah, he threw for 279 yards but had two touchdowns against three interceptions. Against Oregon State, he threw for 180 yards, no touchdowns and an interception in a 35-7 win.Michigan finally got explosive plays Saturday with Ty Isaacs 76-yard touchdown run and Jehu Chessons 36-yard touchdown scamper. But neither came from Rudocks hands.The Wolverines schedule only gets tougher from here. A resurgent BYU team comes into the Big House next week, followed by a road trip to Maryland to start the Big Ten season. October then brings a pair of potential Top 25 matchups with visits from Northwestern and Michigan State, followed by a trip to Minnesota.There are precious few gimmes left on Michigans slate: only a Nov. 7 visit from troubled Rutgers and a Nov. 14 trip to Indiana truly qualify.If the Wolverines hope to make postseason play, they have virtually no margin for error, with Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State remaining on the schedule. They must get better play from Rudock, not only avoiding turnovers but getting better downfield passing.Multiple times Saturday, Rudock missed open receivers downfield; his longest completion was 12 yards.He showed at Iowa that he was capable of big passing plays on occasion but was more comfortable taking what the defense gave him with smaller gains.To reduce pressure on an improving run game, Rudock needs to show that he can stretch a defense on occasion. Michigans hopes of Big Ten contention and postseason play will likely ride on it.
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