Michigan can win with QB Jake Rudock

The Wolverines' new transfer from Iowa isn't an elite quarterback, but his consistent, reliable play could be an asset.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Tony Ding)

(AP Photo/Tony Ding)

Michigan can win with QB Jake Rudock

Jim Harbaugh has a lot of decisions to make to get Michigan heading in the right direction, but one of the first will be to name the Wolverines’ starting quarterback for the 2015 season.

There are no proven entities on the roster — only Shane Morris, with 87 career attempts, has thrown a pass for the Wolverines. As such, Harbaugh may turn to Jake Rudock, a graduate transfer from Iowa. (He is on the far right of this photo; that’s Morris in the middle and Zach Gentry on the far right.)

Even though he lost his starting job with the Hawkeyes, there were elements of Rudock’s play to like in 2014. Among the QBs who faced enough Power 5 opponents to qualify, Rudock was above-average in a number of areas. His 85.43 PFF QB Rating ranked 25th, his 70.3 accuracy percentage was 27th; his 108.5 QB rating with play-action ranked 26th; and his 45.9 percent accuracy on deep passes ranked 12th.

That last stat may surprise Iowa fans, as one frequent complaint about Rudock’s play was his reliance on check-down options, at the expense of pushing the ball downfield. This is borne out in our grading. Quarterbacks need to make challenging throws that beat good coverage to earn the highest grades, and Rudock only earned those grades on 3.7 percent of his passes. That’s less than what 90 other QBs managed (minimum 100 graded passes), and much less than the 6.3 percent posted by Michigan State’s Connor Cook.

Rudock is unlikely to suddenly blossom into a star, but Michigan doesn’t need him to. With a talented defense to lean on, reliable quarterback play should be enough to keep the Wolverines in most games, and buy time for the offensive line and running game to come together.

| Analyst

Kevin has been an analyst at Pro Football Focus since 2014, with a particular focus on college football.

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