ANN ARBOR, Mich.–Jake Rudock debuted with Michigan by throwing three interceptions during a 24-17 season-opening road loss to Utah.
Since then, the 6’3,” 208-pound senior transfer from Iowa has thrown just as many. And really, he’d be at five on the year if not for a fluky play during Saturday’s 28-0 road-pummeling of Maryland.
That interception by Terps defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson—during a 2nd-and-7 from Michigan’s own 44 in the third quarter—snapped Rudock’s streak of nearly 10 quarters without throwing a pick.
“He’s taking good care of the football,” Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh said during Monday’s availability. “He’s making good, accurate and appropriate throws.
The one when he did get an interception—really, he hit (fullback) Sione (Houma) in both hands….you’re coached not to throw it back against your body—yeah, we do coach that. Guy makes that play, get a completion—and you’re happy he did it.
“(Makes catching motion with hands) But the Football Gods got us on that one. He’s doing a good job of taking care of the football.”
Harbaugh on Rudock at 0:55
Due to improved protection from the O-line, Rudock has found ways to make plays when there were none to be made. Until about midway through the third quarter, the Wolverines had struggled to score against the Terps.
It took some time for Rudock to get going, but his intelligent 20-yard tuck-and-run during a 4th-and-3 from Maryland’s 32-yard line moved the chains and set up Kenny Allen for a 30-yard field goal.
Michigan led 3-0 and carried a 6-0 lead into halftime. In a sense, Rudock’s never-quit mentality sparked what turned into a 22-point landslide in the second half.
“I loved the way he ran—looked like Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, there, in a flashback of those two guys—when he took that ball and got us a first down and cut across the grain; he was headed toward the endzone, got tackled at about the 12-, 13-yard line… that was a big play in the game,” Harbaugh said. “He’s doing a lot of good things. He’s playing winning football, and that’s what we ask him to do.
Harbaugh may sound like he’s “satisfied” or “comfortable” with Rudock. But he’s not. He’s neither of those states of being when it comes to the game.
“As you know, ‘comfortable’ is never a word we associate with football,” Harbaugh said while wearing his trademark grin. He later added, just for the sake of posterity, that “’Satisfied’ is another word I do not associate with football (laughs). It’s on a list with (other) words…”
Happy? Likes what he sees? All of the above.
But he’s never ever “comfortable” or “satisfied.”
However, others are a little more willing to go out on a limb in expressing their satisfaction with Rudock.
Question at 2:45, thanks to Matt Pargoff of Maize and Blue News for the video.
Redshirt junior receiver Amara Darboh complemented Rudock’s footwork and ability to survey developing plays.
“I think he’s doing a great job with the reads and everything,” he said, adding that Rudock has done a “great job” of taking control of the offense and leading the team.
Fifth-year senior center Graham Glasgow agrees with Darboh.
Rudock has the Wolverines at 4-1. He hasn’t cost them a game, nor does it look like that’ll ever be the case. Don’t be fooled by his stat line of 956 yards, five touchdowns and six interceptions—the former Hawkeyes signal-caller has done exactly what’s been asked of him.
“Jake is a fantastic game-manager, and he makes sure that we’re in the best play to take advantage of the defense,” Glasgow said. “I’m happy with the way Jake plays.”
Since arriving to Michigan, Rudock has maintained a calm, cool persona. Through all of the preseason quarterback-related drama, to having to fend off wild critics after throwing three picks to the Utes, he’s held firm and remained reliable for an offense that was in dire need of such direction.
It’s been a process for Rudock, and Glasgow has been impressed with Rudock’s transformation.
“At first, I think that it may have been a little bit harder for Jake when all of us had sort of known each other for a long time and been together for awhile,” Glasgow said in response to a question from Angelique Chengelis of the Detroit News.
“It almost seemed like, at first, that Jake was just like one of these freshmen coming in the middle of June—you don’t really know anybody and you are trying to get used to the offense and stuff.
Jake picked up it really fast and really quickly, and he just took a hold of the offense. That’s what we needed from our quarterback. He’s done a great job. “
Post-practice chats among players are common—of course they’re going to talk what they’re doing and not doing. But Rudock goes one step further than that. He really takes the time to connect.
“Jake always, we do like ‘wise words’ after practice, and Jake’s ‘wise words’ to us were ‘You can’t get too high; you can’t get too low—you always have to stay even-keeled.’ Jake seems to live by that.
Jake is always, consistently…Jake… you know?”
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