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Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters passed for 186 yards and was intercepted twice Jan. 1 in the Outback Bowl.

Michigan football mailbag: How the Outback Bowl affects QB Brandon Peters’ chances to start in 2018

Rachel Lenzi

Have Michigan football questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Thursday for the Land of 10 Michigan mailbag to talk all things Wolverines. This week, we discuss the outcome of Brandon Peters’ start in the Outback Bowl, possible coaching turnover and the future of the Wolverines’ wide receivers.

Did Brandon Peters hurt his chance at being the starter with his poor showing in the Outback Bowl? — Ken Bilka, via Facebook

Brandon Peters certainly didn’t help his cause, but he didn’t kill his chance, either. His showing at the Outback Bowl made his path toward becoming Michigan’s starter in 2018 that much tougher, especially considering he’ll have stiff competition from transfer Shea Patterson. Redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffrey also will enter the fold as an unknown who likely will be highly motivated to move quickly up the depth chart.

In regards to Peters, winning or losing the starting job can’t be judged solely on one game.

Peters finished 20-for-44 passing for a season-best 186 yards — better than his season average of 97.2 yards per game. We haven’t seen a 200-yard passing game from Michigan since Sept. 23 against Purdue (284 yards), and that’s concerning.

But again, Peters didn’t help his cause with some of his decisions. The botched handoff to Sean McKeon in the third quarter. A pair of fourth-quarter interceptions, including Peters’ 5-yard pass to the end zone, caught by South Carolina’s JaMarcus King with about 8 minutes left in the game. Furthermore, Michigan shouldn’t have squandered the lead in the first place. It shouldn’t have squandered any of its leads in its final three games, all losses.


Why won’t Jim Harbaugh ever just come out and say he is staying for the long haul? — Paul Dzikowski, via Facebook

Twice last week, coach Jim Harbaugh was pretty clear in saying he doesn’t plan to leave Michigan. First, he was asked a week ago about his name being mentioned for other coaching jobs.

“Let’s move on to the next question,” Harbaugh said. “That’s like warmed-up oatmeal. Or anything else when it’s rehashed or warmed up, it’s not good anymore. Oatmeal is the first thing that comes to mind. Not a big fan of warmed-up oatmeal.”

A reporter asked Harbaugh on Monday if there was a possibility it was the last game he would coach at Michigan.

Harbaugh’s response: “No.”

Who will be the standout at wide receiver next season? — Brandon Abbott, via Facebook

Michigan’s returning wide receivers will have plenty of chances to emerge as that standout. The Wolverines have at least six receivers who are expected to return. Michigan also returns its two tight ends, Zach Gentry and Sean McKeon, who combined for 604 yards and 5 touchdowns this season.

Michigan’s receiving statistics have plummeted in the last three seasons — from 3,090 yards in 2015 to 2,226 yards in 2017 — so production will be vital in 2018.

But if you’re looking for a nomination, let’s go with Tarik Black as a standout receiver in 2018. He had 11 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown, but he sustained a broken left foot in the third game of the season.

Harbaugh chose to sit Black out of the Outback Bowl to pursue a medical redshirt.

At the start of the season, Black was a freshman who played much older than he was, was capable of making long plays and immediately found chemistry with Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight.

Black’s presence, had he not gotten injured, would have been a boon to Michigan’s passing game this season.

Speight, as we know, won’t return. It will be vital for Black to find a similar chemistry with either Brandon Peters or Shea Patterson in spring practices.

Where is the progression of Chuck Filiaga? — Anthony Booth, via Facebook

If you look short-term, Chuck Filiaga got acclimated to the program, and he has a huge upside. He’s 6-foot-6 and 345 pounds, and he towers over a few of his teammates on the offensive line. As a football player, he’s rapidly developed from the time he started playing football in the sixth grade to becoming a Division I prospect.

Long-term, this is about right as far as Filiaga’s development. It’s unusual for freshmen to immediately play on Michigan’s offensive line ― only Mason Cole and Ben Bredeson have gotten regular playing time on the line in the last three seasons. So Filiaga and other younger offensive linemen ― that includes Joel Honigford, Andrew Stueber and James Hudson, who moved from the defensive line to the offensive line ― have plenty to build on for 2018.

Read more abouthere about Filiaga — I profiled the freshman last spring as part of Land of 10’s Next Generation series on Michigan recruits.

Have a question about Michigan football? Tweet us @Landof10Mich and we’ll try to answer your question in a future mailbag. Check to see if your question already was answered by reading previous Michigan football mailbags here.