This summer, in an interview with Campus Insiders, Michigan head coach Brady Hoke hinted at prized recruit Jabrill Peppers possibly making an appearance on offense for the Wolverines this season. There was much speculation about how/when the offense could use a superb all-around talent guy like Peppers, but with his overall athleticism and natural ability, it almost seemed silly to think he would be limited to only playing defense.
Here we are, prepping for the fifth game of the season, and we’ve yet to see Peppers line up for an offensive snap. But why is that? This is a Michigan offense that is only averaging 24 points per game and has failed to reach the red zone against Notre Dame and Utah, something that likely hasn’t happened since a game against Michigan State in 1947, as Drew Hallet pointed out on Twitter.
Those drastic struggles surely demand the help of an athlete like Peppers, right? Well, it may not be that simple. And even though Peppers could have a dramatic impact on the offense, unless he has an arm we don’t know about, his assistance isn’t really needed.
That preseason speculation surrounded Peppers’ ability to play at either wide receiver or running back—or both. My personal preference was running back, considering the fact that Michigan came into this season with a lack of stability at the position, but Derrick Green has stepped up in a big way out of the backfield, minimizing mistakes and becoming a reliable back in Michigan’s offense.
At wide receiver, Michigan has legitimate talent across the board. If the injury to Devin Funchess had been more severe, it maybe would have been reasonable to start looking at this as a possibility, but there’s absolutely no need to put another body out wide right now, especially when the receivers are playing as well as they have been.
The reason I highly doubt Peppers will be used on offense has nothing to do with his talent level or what he can do with the ball in his hands; there simply isn’t a reason to throw him into the game on offense, hope he can make a big play or two, and pray like crazy he doesn’t get injured in the process. The risk is not worth the reward, and there’s no reason to even take that risk in the first place.