Ann Arbor — Michigan’s offense has to contend with turnover issues — the Wolverines have had nine in the first three games, including fumbles that killed their first series each game — and a number of nagging injuries.
Receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones and left tackle Jon Runyan missed the first two games and returned for last Saturday’s Big Ten opener at Wisconsin, but backup quarterback Dylan McCaffrey was knocked out of that game with a concussion and is doubtful for Saturday’s game against Rutgers.
Starting quarterback Shea Patterson has been challenged by an oblique injury since the first play of the season opener and was also banged up against the Badgers.
Tight end Sean McKeon was injured on a touchdown reception late in the game and will not be available for Rutgers, running back Tru Wilson has missed two games, and freshman back Zach Charbonnet has been “limited,” while receiver Tarik Black last week didn’t practice.
“We had a number of different injuries we were battling throughout the week,” Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis said, referring to last week heading into the Wolverines’ 35-14 debacle at Wisconsin. “The biggest thing for us offensively is get healthy and get the guys into practice so we can get into a rhythm and flow that can carry out throughout the game. That’s been a little bit of a challenge for us because you look at every practice we haven’t had all 11 starters on offense. Ever.
“We just got to continue to get healthy, we gotta manage the players that we have and make sure that we keep them healthy and they’re getting the right amount of reps to being able to take those practice reps and turn them into game reps.”
Gattis said Peoples-Jones had not practiced, but went through pregame warm-ups and felt confident he could play. Charbonnet also played but was, as Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game, “limited.”
“Donovan was a game-time decision,” Gattis said. “Obviously, he’s been limited and hurt a little bit. He jogged a little bit. We didn’t know if he was gonna be able to go on Saturday. When you go into a game and you have some energy and juice about you, he felt good and ready to go. That was a big positive as far as his rehab and development. Hopefully we’ll continue to get healthier as an offensive unit. We lost some guys in the game this past week that kinda hurt us, but we’ve got to rally the troops and get as healthy as possible as fast as possible so we can be the unit we want to be.”
Charbonnet has been practicing this week.
“We’re managing Zach’s situation,” Gattis said. “Zach’s practicing for us. We’re managing him just like we’re managing any of our other players. At this point we’ve got a lot of guys who have some small nicks and bruises that we just gotta manage. It’s nothing severe, nothing that can become dangerous to their health, just things we have to manage to make sure we get the guys to Saturday, but they also have the right amount of reps throughout the week to be able to play Saturday at a high level.”
With McCaffrey not expected to play, third-string quarterback Joe Milton is now Patterson’s backup.
“He’s getting a chance to go out there and take some live reps under fire against our defense,” Gattis said of Milton.
Published at Wed, 25 Sep 2019 18:28:54 +0000