Michigan Football: The Soul of the Future is Now

(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

In its win over Rutgers, Michigan football put the future on display, including quarterback Brandon Peters, and it was beautiful.

It’s funny what a couple of losses can do to expectations in the here and now, huh?

Related Story: What we learned against Rutgers

It was really nice to see Ben Mason making real live fullback plays as a true freshman. It was nice to see O’Maury Samuels get a little garbage time run. It was really nice to see Kareem Walker looking like he was made to be a great part of an all-around Jim Harbaugh/Tim Drevno complete breakfast. And how about the whole second string defensive line looking like they belonged on the field at the end?

And speaking of Michigan’s future fullback, Mason, you have to watch this play in slo-mo if you have access.

With 2:55 left in the half, Higdon scores on a 10-yard run. Mason is lined up as a sort of H-back on the right side, and he pulls left with big Mike Onwenu, goes through the intended hole and lays a nice block on his man.

Then his man gets turned sideways and starts catching up to Higdon where traffic gets heavy at about the 5. Mason catches up to his man and drives him and the pile ahead of Higdon and plants his man on the big Michigan “C” in the end zone with Higdon close behind. This could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Have I teased you long enough? The man of the hour? A possible solution to this year’s long quarterback controversy? Yes, even Matt Millen was capable of putting his finger on this one. When Peters came into the game midway into the second quarter, the mood changed for the fans in the stands, his teammates on the field and on the sidelines, and even us who watched the game from hundreds of miles away. And Millen noticed this. He called attention to it, in great detail.

Millen is a mixed bag for me. He’ll say something idiotic, like that Chris Evans is a blend of Higdon and Ty Isaac and Higdon is the only home run back.

Anyway, back to the Peters phenomenon, an event so brilliant that even a blind hog in the broadcast booth could see it. We’ve waited for this for a long time. Many of us have called for it. We’ve thrown rocks at the Jim Harbaugh submarine, and although he would never acknowledge that he heard those rocks dinging his thick metal infrastructure, his mannerisms have given him away.

The forthcoming interviews at halftime with sideline reporters. Tim Drevno actually gave a presser in the aftermath of that first loss where he dropped the veneer of total coach speak to tell us a story from his youth about pumping the well to bring up life-giving water and how you never know when that pump will bring H2O. He likened that water pump to the offensive line play.

Yes, these coaches have been out of their normal comfort zone ever since that horrible loss to Michigan State. They know the team. They know what needs to be done. And they are trying to walk that fine line of not giving away info to the enemy while trying to keep the “Go Blue” faithful informed. I know it is a difficult line to walk.

Yesterday, the stars aligned. They had seen enough of John O’Korn and were ready to give Peters a shot. He wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t playing high level competition. But damn, didn’t it feel frickin lovely? Just to get a glimpse of the kid, making plays on the run, calmly surveying the field and making good decisions. Suddenly Michigan was fun again! Watching him do his first national post game interview with his helmet pulled halfway over his ears, looking for all the world like Dopey of the Seven Dwarfs. And totally oblivious to the pressure, to how he looked for his first TV interview.

I don’t know, maybe the “Enthusiasm unknown to Mankind” coach perceives his low pressure attitude in practice as a liability? Maybe his quiet ways are off-putting to Harbaugh. Maybe Peters needs to change some of that. My prediction? These two are a “karmic pair” destined to circle each other’s worlds for a time and change each other for the better.

I heard this great anecdote about Joe Montana. He’s huddling up the 49’ers at the tail end of a Super Bowl in which they were trailing. He was getting the guys ready to go on one of their legendary come-from-behind drives. They get in the huddle and Montana just obliviously mentioned to the guys that John Candy was up in the stands. Well, it totally calmed them all down, they went out and methodically handled business. What was that, Joe Montana, master manipulator? I don’t think so. I think it was Montana’s version of “I don’t have ADHD, look there goes a squirrel.”

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How do your teammates and coaches respond to that type of mentality? Well, that is all up to them, isn’t it?