By Knox Bardeen
Jim Harbaugh never lost a season opener as quarterback of the Michigan Wolverines in the mid-'80s. His regular season coaching debut at his alma mater didn't go as well.
Michigan lost to Utah 24-17 on Thursday, beating itself in many ways, including three interceptions, with "Khaki Cam" (Fox Sports Go's foray into experimental, Harbaugh-focused camera feeds) going into overdrive.
Michigan's New QB is …
Jim Harbaugh taking pregame snaps, giving handoffs. pic.twitter.com/G6RtVpt4Zy- Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) September 3, 2015
OK, that was just Jim Harbaugh trolling. Iowa transfer Jake Rudock took the snaps for the Wolverines and looked like a ball of nervous energy in the first quarter when he overthrew Jehu Chesson -- who ran a beautiful route to get free along the right sideline -- for a sure touchdown pass.
Jake Rudock had 6. He gunned it when all he had to do was get it to him. That was a Colin Kaepernick-esque miscue- Jake Hatch (@JacobCHatch) September 4, 2015
In the second quarter, Rudock not only missed Chesson again on a long pattern, but threw another pick while aiming toward Grant Perry. The one bright spot was juvenile headline writers' dream tight end Jake Butt, who caught eight passes for 93 yards in the first half, along with a touchdown in the second half to keep things close for the Wolverines.
welcome back football pic.twitter.com/BeWIhMgtMC- Erik Malinowski (@erikmal) September 4, 2015
But(t) Ruddock's insistence on targeting Perry (each of his picks came on attempts the receiver's way) sealed Michigan's fate midway through the fourth quarter when Utah's Justin Thomas jumped a route and took a 55-yard pick back to the house to give the Utes a 14-point lead. Interceptions were rare when Rudock was at Iowa, but he wasn't the safe option that Michigan hoped on Thursday.
Jake Rudock threw 5 INTs in 345 attempts at Iowa in 2014. He has 3 INTs in 31 attempts for Michigan tonight.- Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) September 4, 2015
Travis Wilson Can Carry the Utes
Travis Wilson with the masterful read on the QB keep straight ahead to score untouched. Utah 17-3, and Michigan is on the ropes.- Pat Forde (@YahooForde) September 4, 2015
It only seems like Wilson has been at Utah forever. He hasn't, but wisdom seems to have blossomed in the senior quarterback.
Wilson's adjustments during halftime allowed him to carve up the Michigan defense in the third quarter. When he saw an opening to use his feet -- remember, this guy chugged for 91 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in last year's Las Vegas Bowl -- he showed off an enhanced rushing prowess.
Wilson finished 24 for 33 with 208 yards through the air and had 53 yards on the ground. Utah would not have won so convincingly without the total package he provided.
First impressions of "Khaki Cam"
Being a head coach is kind of a lonely job. Sure, Harbaugh was talking on his headset the entire game, but unless he initiated contact on the field, everyone avoided him. Harbaugh didn't like calling that timeout; he showed visible signs of angst right as he reached for the official. This is why "Khaki Cam" can be great.
Harbaugh's dedicated cam caught another moment, one he might not wanted to have shared. When Kenny Allen missed a third-quarter field goal after an instant replay took away a Wolverines' first down, Harbaugh -- thinking he was talking to himself -- said he should have foregone the kick and attempted to go for it on fourth down.
If the rest of the season goes the same way Thursday did, "Khaki Cam" may become must-stream TV.