Michigan QB O'Korn aims for bounce-back performance
(TSX / STATS) -- John O'Korn certainly shouldn't receive all the blame for Michigan's five-turnover performance in last week's loss to Michigan State.
However, the senior quarterback didn't exactly instill confidence that he can direct the Wolverines to high-scoring outputs should starter Wilton Speight not play again this season.
O'Korn threw three second-half interceptions while Michigan recorded a season low for points in last Saturday's 14-10 defeat. He accepted the blame and is looking for a better effort when the No. 17 Wolverines (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) visit Indiana on Saturday.
"We had plenty of opportunities to move the ball and score touchdowns," O'Korn said. "You can't expect to win when you have (five) turnovers. And three of them were 100 percent my fault. So, we've got to regroup and get better this week and get ready for Indiana."
O'Korn, who completed 16 of 35 passes for 198 yards last week, will be making his second straight start and third in two seasons at Michigan. There may be many more to come as reports continue to surface about Speight, with Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh confirming that the junior has multiple cracked vertebrae in his neck.
Harbaugh isn't ruling Speight out for the season, but the job is going to belong to O'Korn for at least the next few weeks.
Behind O'Korn on the depth chart are redshirt freshman Brandon Peters and true freshman Dylan McCaffrey. Peters has thrown one collegiate pass while McCaffrey hasn't taken a single snap.
So it is swim-or-sink with O'Korn for the Wolverines, who have more field-goal attempts (14) than offensive touchdowns (10).
Michigan ranks just 84th nationally in total offense (385.8 yards per game), 101st in third-down conversion rate (34.2 percent) and is tied for 115th in passing touchdowns (four).
Of course, Speight started the first three games, so pinning blame has to be done cautiously.
"Nope, it's not his fault," senior center Patrick Kugler said of O'Korn. "It's a team game -- we've all got to play better. Yeah, we can't have turnovers, but that's on all of us though. It's not on him -- it's on us."
--RB Karan Higdon is in line for a bigger role after rushing for a season-high 65 yards and catching two passes for 33 yards against Michigan State. The junior received an increase in his workload (matching his season high of 12 carries) after Ty Isaac lost a fumble in the opening quarter. Higdon had a solid 5.9-yard average as a sophomore, so he is certainly capable of improving on this year's 4.5-yard mark that has seen him rush for 201 yards.
--DE Chase Winovich leads the Big Ten with 5.5 sacks and has forced a fumble this season. The junior has 31 tackles, including 7.5 for loss, while stepping up to be a force after being a capable reserve last season. Winovich had seven tackles against Michigan State and appears to be on his way to All-Big Ten honors if he can continue this type of production.
--MLB Devin Bush has played solidly all season and has a team-high 41 tackles while ranking second on the squad with 4.5 sacks. The sophomore is an emerging team leader despite not making his first career start until this season's opener. Bush had eight stops against the Spartans.
Updated October 9, 2017