Six games down, six games to go in the regular season. As Michigan navigates into the meat of the conference schedule, I thought it would be interesting to track how the offensive staff has used Jabrill Peppers and what that may mean for match-ups down the road. In the short year and a half of Jim Harbaugh’s tenure it has been fascinating to watch him build off of a litany of different looks and motions to put his players in positions to succeed on the field. Additionally, with this staff it’s safe to say that certain formations, packages, and plays are put on film for a reason. We’re a far cry from the Diamond Formation frustrations of yore, thank goodness.
Jabrill’s first offensive touches last year occurred on the road against Minnesota. He finished the ’15 campaign with 18 carries for 72 yards and 2 touchdowns, 8 catches for 79 yards, and one incomplete pass attempt. It wasn’t much of a leap this offense to predict that he would have an increased role in the offense. Through the first half of 2016, his presence on offense indeed has increased, though a cursory glance at the box score does not tell the full story of his impact. To date, Peppers is credited with just 5 carries for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns through six games. This does not account for the eight snaps he has taken at QB or the times he has been on the field as a wideout both in motion and static as a decoy. We’ve seen him in a lot of different areas on offense and with the ball in several different spots on the field.
The defenses remaining on the schedule grade out thusly based on S&P+ advanced stats at Football Outsiders:
- Illinois: 70th overall, 122nd rushing, 88th passing
- Michigan State: 59th overall, 84th rushing, 102nd passing
- Maryland: 44th overall, 110th rushing, 24th passing
- Iowa: 34th overall, 83rd rushing, 36th passing
- Indiana: 30th overall, 27th rushing, 21st passing
- Ohio State: 7th overall, 30th rushing, 7th passing
The trend is a slow but steady uptick over the course of the final six games in the level of defense that Michigan will be facing. For the sake of reference, Wisconsin grades out at 5th overall, 7th in rushing, and 13th in passing defense. This all adds up to a scenario where I fully expect an increase in Jabrill’s snaps going forward, particularly at QB and RB where Harbaugh can dictate the matchups he wants to help even blockers vs tacklers. I would hazard a guess that this is also why you’ve seen Shane Morris in spot duty thus far out blocking, as well as why he played some at wideout in the spring game. Let’s take a look at some plays after the jump…