Brady to Harbaugh…Wait what?
That’s right. Michigan quarterback legends, Tom Brady and Jim Harbaugh were spotted playing catch prior to Michigan’s matchup with Colorado on Saturday afternoon. Brady was at the Big House for a football game, for the first time in 17 years, as he served as an honorary captain for the Wolverines.
Let me start off this article by reminding you of my prediction for Michigan’s game against the Buffaloes…
“At the end of the day, the Buffs hang close in this one. The longer they hang around; the better chance they have at an upset. Ultimately, I think it is going to come down to a big defensive/special teams play by the Wolverines to finally break away from Colorado in the third quarter. The Wolverines won’t look back at that point, and will begin to pour it on.”
Although I was wrong on a few of my predictions (Speight having a big day through the air, and the final score), I’d say I nailed that one.
The Buffaloes came to Ann Arbor Saturday afternoon, looking to knock off the No. 4 ranked team in the country, the Michigan Wolverines. Things started off great for the Buffs, as they held Michigan to a 3-and-out on their first drive, and then immediately took a 7-0 lead, via the passing game. Colorado didn’t stop there as they blitzed on a third down, blew up Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight, picked up the fumble and walked into the end zone for a cool 14-0 lead. Michigan got on the board in the 1st quarter, when they blocked their third punt in two games, and Grant Perry recovered the ball and found his way to the end zone. Colorado would strike right back as quarterback Sefo Liufau found Devin Ross for a pitch and catch score, to take a 14-point lead. It was all Michigan in the 2nd quarter as the Wolverines punched in two touchdowns, and added a Kenny Allen field goal, and were able to take a 24-21 lead into the locker room.
Colorado quarterback, Sefo Liufau torched the Wolverine defense with 176 yards, and two touchdowns in the first half. Liufau was set up perfectly for another big half in the Big House, but less than a minute into the second half, he was injured on a play where he was drug down from behind by Chris Wormley. Liufau hobbled back to the Colorado backfield, determined to stay in the game. Sure enough, the very next play, Liufau dropped back, threw off one leg, and found Shay Fields for a 70-yard touchdown, to give the Buffs a 28-24 lead. On that play, Sefo took another big hit, as he released the pass, and that would end his day. Colorado would bring in redshirt Freshman, Steven Montez, to finish the game under center.
Even though Michigan gave up a 70-yard touchdown, that was the exact play the Wolverines needed to get going (like I mentioned in my prediction). Once Liufau was knocked out of the game, that was it for the Colorado offense. You could feel the momentum completely swing to the Wolverines side as they tacked on three touchdowns, including a 54-yard punt return by Jabrill Peppers. Michigan didn’t look back, and ultimately closed out the game, 45-28.
It was a gritty performance by Michigan on Saturday afternoon. A performance that would be expected from the No. 4 team in the country. They got down early, but didn’t panic. They stayed calm, and played their game. It was another great TEAM win for the Wolverines, but one player played above the rest. Let’s see who is “Harabaugh’s Hero” this week.
Jabrill Peppers, Linebacker, Junior
In a game that was just…weird..from the get go, Jabrill Peppers was by far the best player on the field. Without his presence on Saturday, the outcome could have been different for the Wolverines. He entered the game on Michigan’s first offensive drive, at tailback. Peppers tallied two carries, for 24 yards, including a 17-yard rush on Saturday. He also had a big day in the return game. Peppers had two kick returns, for 81 yards (40.5 yard return average), and four punt returns for 99 yards (24.8 yard return average). His 99 yards were helped out by a huge 54-yard punt return touchdown in the 4th quarter. Jabrill weaved through defenders, and ultimately found himself in the end zone, for his first career collegiate punt return touchdown.
Not only did Michigan feature Peppers on offense, and special teams, he also played his defensive position exceptionally well. Peppers had a career day on defense as he tallied 9 tackles (3.5 tackles for loss), and 1 sack for 11 yards.
I really hope Michigan fans truly appreciate what Peppers brings to this team. This guy has a nose for the football. It doesn’t matter if he is on offense, defense, special teams, or taking a leak in the locker room…he knows where the ball is going before the play happens. A lot of internet trolls like to criticize Peppers because he doesn’t have as many return touchdowns, or defensive stats as they think he should have, but this kid can flat out play. Football is so much more than scoring every time you get the ball, or intercepting every pass that comes your way. Peppers is scary good. He is in on almost every single tackle, always is dangerous as a returner, and can score at any second on offense. Where I think he is most undervalued is on special teams. Peppers scored his first special teams touchdown on Saturday, and prior to that, a lot of people liked to say he wasn’t that great of a returner. I’m sorry, but anytime a guy can consistently bring the ball out past the 40-yard line, he is a great returner. I just hope Michigan fans have enjoyed watching him return punts and kicks, because teams are going to be done kicking to him after this performance.
There were a few other Wolverines I could have given an award to this week, but I just flat out didn’t want to. I am going to give this solely to Jabrill Peppers this week, because like I said, no other player on that field put together four quarters of football like he did.
Who do you think deserved to be “Harbaugh’s Heroes” this week? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or by Email. I can’t wait for B1G conference play to get underway next week, and I look forward to another great game. Go Blue!