Josh Kendall

Who’s Michigan’s QB? Doesn’t matter, Gamecocks say

Marching bands, tug-of-war, and pie eating at Outback Bowl Beach Day

South Carolina Gamecocks marching band and cheerleaders entertained fans at the Outback Bowl Beach Day on December 30, 2017, in Clearwater, Fla.
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South Carolina Gamecocks marching band and cheerleaders entertained fans at the Outback Bowl Beach Day on December 30, 2017, in Clearwater, Fla.

There have been questions most of the month about who Michigan’s starting quarterback will be in the Outback Bowl. The answer is freshman Brandon Peters, but South Carolina coach Will Muschamp doesn’t seem to care much. Muschamp wasn’t the one asking the question anyway.

“I mean, they are who they are schematically, in my opinion,” Muschamp said.

The Gamecocks (8-4) take on the Wolverines (8-4) at noon Monday in the Outback Bowl, and while the most interesting matchup will be the South Carolina offense against the Michigan defense, the most important might be the Gamecocks’ defense against a no-nonsense Michigan offense.

Schematically, in Muschamp’s words, what the Wolverines are is a run-oriented offense no matter who is taking snaps under center.

Michigan has rushed the ball at least 36 times in every game this season. To put that in perspective, South Carolina has done that six times this season. Michigan’s starting offensive line averages 306 pounds and is led by left tackle Mason Cole, who will be making his 51st straight start for the Wolverines.

“He’ll be a great pro,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “He’ll play for a long time at a very high level in the NFL.”

The biggest challenge for the Wolverines’ offensive line will be handling South Carolina’s defensive athleticism, Harbaugh said.

“The first thing that sticks out to me is when you watch the tape, the length and athleticism of the team, just length,” Michigan’s coach said. “Long arms, tall, athletic players, and they play athletic. They play fast.”

Michigan, meanwhile, relies on “the power run game,” South Carolina linebacker T.J. Brunson said.

“That is pretty much their bread and butter,” Brunson said.

Michigan’s run game is similar to the Arkansas offense, Gamecocks linebacker Skai Moore said. The Razorbacks ran for 224 yards against South Carolina in a 48-22 Gamecocks victory in October.

“They are going to try to run the ball on us,” Moore said. “Once we stop the run and make them throw it, we should be in the advantage.”

As of Wednesday this week, Moore didn’t know who Michigan was going to start at quarterback. Like Muschamp, he didn’t seem to care.

“We are just going to show up Saturday and see who starts,” Moore said.

Harbaugh confirmed Thursday that Peters, a 6-foot-5, 216-pound freshman will make the third start of his collegiate career. Michigan has started three quarterbacks this year – Peters and seniors John O’Korn and Wilton Speight. O’Korn will serve as the backup Monday.

Peters “has been really good, locked in, performing well, been throwing the ball good, been sharp, naturally he’s got a lot of talent,” Harbaugh said. “Every rep is great for him because it’s one of those positions where you can watch a play and there is always something you can see and get better at. There’s always something in a quarterback’s play that you can coach and talk about and learn from. Every opportunity he has is a big deal for him.”

Just don’t expect South Carolina to make a big deal out of it.

The State's Ben Breiner and Josh Kendall preview the South Carolina football team's Outback Bowl matchup vs. Michigan.

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