How worried should Michigan be about QB Jake Rudock's play?
It’s safe to say Michigan has some problems to work through on offense, after scoring just 17 points in their season-opening loss at Utah. As is usually the case, it’s the quarterback who is being blamed for much of those issues – and new QB Jake Rudock certainly didn’t perform very well in his first game for the Wolverines since transferring from Iowa.
Rudock completed 27 of his 42 aimed passes, good for a 69 percent accuracy rate that would have ranked around the 50th percentile among 2014 QBs, while his passes traveled 8.3 yards in the air on average. There were some solid throws in there, including at 1:16 of the fourth quarter when he delivered a strike to Grant Perry on a post route.
But as Rudock’s -4.5 overall grade indicates, his misses were costly, including three interceptions. Two of those were about as bad as you can get (2nd quarter, 5:40; 4th quarter, 8:10), and all three occurred on passes thrown outside the numbers.
Pressure was definitely an issue, and the Wolverines’ offensive line certainly deserves its share of the blame for not providing adequate pass protection. Rudock felt heat on 37 percent of his dropbacks (only 18 QBs were pressured more on average in 2014), and all five of his linemen finished with negative grades in pass protection. But there actually wasn’t a substantial difference between his play when pressured compared to when he wasn’t. In fact, he had a lower passer rating when given a clean pocket (66.9 versus 69.5), with two of his three interceptions coming on those plays.
It’s important to note that this negative performance from Rudock came against a Utah defense that had one of the highest collective grades in all of college football last season. And of course, it’s only one game from a new QB breaking in a new head coach and system – so it’s far too early to be drawing any major conclusions. But Rudock is going to have to perform better for Michigan to fare well in a non-conference slate that still includes Oregon State and BYU, before Big Ten play begins in October.