Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh praises QB Shea Patterson in 42-7 win over Rutgers, Nov. 10, 2018.
Nick Baumgardner, Freep
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — One of the biggest questions entering Michigan football‘s trip to Rutgers on Saturday was its backup quarterback job.
Turns out, it’s a two-man gig.
Michigan played third-year sophomore Brandon Peters and true freshman Joe Milton in relief of Shea Patterson during mop-up time of a 42-7 win at Rutgers. With backup Dylan McCaffrey out for the season (broken collarbone), coach Jim Harbaugh said he felt it was necessary to get both players real-game experience.
Both players got reps this week. And if Michigan needs to turn to a backup at some point this season, Harbaugh indicated that both Peters and Milton could play.
“We wanted to get them both playing, get them reps. Brandon’s series was only one play because Chris (Evans) popped a long (touchdown run), but they both need game reps,” Harbaugh said. “You want to get them ready before you need them.
“I think the way we’re going is we like things that both do. If we’re in that situation, we’ll keep them both ready and keep getting them both ready to play (if something happens) where that need arises.”
Peters came off the bench first. Neither player attempted a pass in the game. Milton did get sacked once and walk-on Michael Sessa took a snap on the final series of the game.
Milton has now played in two games. Under NCAA rule, he can appear in four total games this season — postseason included — and keep his redshirt.
Michigan running back Karan Higdon became the first Wolverine running back to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for a season since Fitzgerald Toussaint did it in 2011.
Higdon entered the game needing 37 yards to hit the mark, finished with 43 on the day and barely played in the second half.
His streak of seven straight games with at least 100 yards ended, but his goal of topping 1,000 yards has happened.
“Karan had a goal in his head, he set it last year,” Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary said after the game, pumping his fist upon hearing the news of Higdon’s achievement. “He attacked his goal.
“I’m happy for him.”
Higdon and Toussaint are the only Michigan running backs to hit 1,000 yards since Mike Hart wrapped up his career in 2007.
Hart will be on the sidelines next week when Michigan hosts Indiana, as the former Wolverine standout is the Hoosiers’ running backs coach.
Michigan’s offense was outstanding on third down Saturday, converting 9 of 14 attempts.
Patterson delivered two shots to Donovan Peoples-Jones on third-down plays, including one scramble throw that was delivered to a diving Peoples-Jones along the sideline.
Outside of one stalled drive early in the first half, Michigan was solid in the red zone. The Wolverines finished 4 of 5, all four conversions were touchdowns.
With 260 yards and three touchdown passes Saturday, Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson continued to rise his passer efficiency rating.
The Michigan junior now has a 10-game rating of 160.3 with 1,927 yards, 17 touchdowns and three interceptions (with a 67 percent completion rate).
If the season ended today, Patterson’s efficiency number would rank No. 6 on Michigan’s all-time list, just ahead of Drew Henson’s 159.4 posted in 2000.
Contact Nick Baumgardner: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.