ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Jourdan Lewis has given Michigan a standout performance from his cornerback position so far.
He is about to face perhaps his biggest test of the season with No. 22 BYU and its pass-happy offense next on the schedule.
After sustaining a concussion against Oregon State, Lewis returned with a big game on Saturday to help Michigan to a 28-7 win over UNLV. Through three games, Lewis has as many pass breakups, six, as he did all of last season.
He knows the Cougars will keep him busy.
”They’re just relentless,” Lewis said. ”They won’t give up. It’s going to be a tough matchup all game.”
Coach Jim Harbaugh called Lewis the team’s defensive player of the game against the Rebels after the junior broke up four passes, a career high.
”It was exciting,” Lewis said. ”I hoped they kept throwing at me. I wanted a pick. Pass breakups are great, but the ultimate goal is the interception.”
As for recovering from the concussion, Lewis said he wasn’t fazed by any fear of re-injury.
”It was more mental than physical,” Lewis said. ”Going through the game plan, it’s just knowing what you’re doing and knowing where you have to be. Just taking mental reps, basically.”
The entire Michigan secondary was strong against the Rebels, intercepting two passes and limiting UNLV’s Blake Decker and Kurt Palandech to 14-of-26 passing and 143 yards. But even those numbers are inflated by one 53-yard pass in garbage time.
BYU won its first two games of the season on last-minute touchdown passes before losing a nail-biter at UCLA on Saturday. BYU lost its starting quarterback, Taysom Hill, to a season-ending foot injury in its season-opener against Nebraska. But freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum came on to throw the game-winning Hail Mary, and he has been stellar ever since.
In the two games he has started, Mangum is 47-for-75 passing, totaling 553 yards and three touchdowns.
”Good receivers, big receivers, good quarterback – big, physical team on both sides of the ball,” Harbaugh said of the Cougars. ”It’ll be a great gauge for where our team is at.”
Lewis is slightly undersized at cornerback, just 5-foot-10. BYU’s large receivers should be the biggest challenge he has faced this season.
”If you have the talent and you know you have the technique, it’s not a big deal at all,” Lewis said. ”I’ve played with bigger receivers; I’ve played with smaller receivers. It’s all the same, honestly.”
Harbaugh echoed Lewis’ sentiment, saying that height differences can be overcome by technique and leverage.
”We have the skill to go out there and match up with anybody,” Lewis said. ”We have everything you need. We have Jabrill (Peppers), he’ll come up and hit people, and he can cover people. We have Jarrod (Wilson) where he knows where to be every time he’s on the field. We have a combination of everything out there.”