TAMPA, Fla. — Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters likens the impending arrival of transfer Shea Patterson from Ole Miss to someone breaking into his house and trying to steal something.
“You’re not going to let that happen,” Peters said Thursday. “I’m not going to let someone come into my house and take something from me.”
It wasn’t a slight against Patterson, who will enroll at Michigan for the spring semester. Instead, Peters illustrated his competitive fire.
He knows he has an opportunity right now to do something that Patterson can’t. Peters is Michigan’s No. 1 quarterback as the Wolverines prepare for the Outback Bowl on Monday against South Carolina.
Peters fully grasps that his performance in the Outback Bowl provides his best chance to prove that he is the frontrunner to be Michigan’s starting quarterback in 2018.
“I’m not going to say that the teams I got a chance to play against this year were bad teams,” Peters said. “Playing against a good SEC team, an 8-4 team, being able to have a breakout game and play well, that will make a huge statement.”
Patterson’s eligibility for the 2018 season might not be determined for at least another month, according to a recent CBSSports.com report. Right now, that makes Peters Michigan’s top returning quarterback next season.
Peters threw for 486 yards and 4 touchdowns on 37-of-64 passing in five games (three starts) for the Wolverines (8-4), but he sustained a concussion in the third quarter of a 24-10 loss Nov. 18 at Wisconsin.
Peters did not play against Ohio State on Nov. 25 because he was in concussion protocol. He aid he didn’t feel 100 percent until four days after the 31-20 loss to the Buckeyes.
In the weeks since, Peters has discovered a new motivation as he prepares to face the Gamecocks.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has noticed it, too.
“He’s locked in, laser-like focus going into this ballgame and practicing well, preparing really well,” Harbaugh said. “He’s not going to let himself get beat in this game.”
‘He’s the guy now’
Peters’ teammates are rallying around him. Left tackle Mason Cole told reporters Wednesday that Peters has “a little swagger to him.”
“He runs around like he owns the place, and that’s what you want,” Cole said.
Added tight end Sean McKeon: “He’s always had that swagger. But he’s letting it all out, because he’s the guy now.”
Safety Tyree Kinnel saw Peters become more acclimated to the position and to Michigan’s offense between preseason camp and bowl practices this week.
Now, Kinnel sees Peters taking command.
“You can tell he wants to take this team over and make it his,” Kinnel said. “He’s more loose, he’s more fun. He’s throwing it more comfortable and you can tell he’s comfortable with his offense and with his leadership on the team. It’s very important because we’re always going to be as good as our quarterback.”
Now Peters’ competitive fire — or that fear of getting robbed of something that belongs to him — has to translate into a quality start on New Year’s Day.
“I want to be really successful,” Peters said. “I’ve been working hard to come out more and do that.”