Once again, Michigan comes into a year with playoff or bust hype and they are struggling to prove they made the leap. After a sloppy but forgivable week one win, they followed it up by slipping past Army in overtime. Michigan has been trying to break out from being good to great, but they won’t move much until there is a change.
Time To Pass On Patterson
Shea Patterson was supposed to be the savior and the QB Jim Harbaugh needed. Despite his up and down production at Ole Miss, he was the answer now that he was with the QB whisperer. Unfortunately, Patterson is exactly what he was at Ole Miss, average.
This season has been no different as he had three passing touchdowns against Middle Tennessee and zero against Army. That isn’t uncommon for Patterson as he also didn’t throw a touchdown pass against Notre Dame, Northwestern or Wisconsin last season. On top of disappearing in the touchdown category against better competition, he also is yet to have a 300 yard game passing and has only had two games with more than 50 yards rushing.
He doesn’t open up the passing game, he isn’t a great runner, and he disappears against quality teams. The only things keeping his stats respectable are big games against the likes of Western Michigan and SMU. It worked last season because Michigan had a great defense and he didn’t need to do as much. But now in year four he isn’t commanding the offense like most thought and already has four fumbles in two games. This may work now, but the Big Ten is looking strong again and this will just end with another disappointing season.
More Than Just Shea
While Patterson has been mediocre, he doesn’t deserve all the blame. Jim Harbaugh brought in a new OC to call the plays. The former Alabama assistant had plenty of hype, but after some off season drama, it looks like Mike Locksly will have the last laugh.
Both Locksly and Gattis were coaching at Alabama last season. Locksley called the plays while Gattis had a hand in helping put together the offensive game plan. Turns out, Locksley was right about the difference between calling the shots and suggestions. Maryland is currently averaging 71 PPG after and Michigan is averaging 22.5 PPG.
Gattis gave his comments on the offensive struggles so far.
Speaking to the media, Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis feels he’s identified the source of the Wolverines’ woes. He explained that “self-inflicted wounds” have been the biggest source of problems.
Gattis said that the combination of fumbles, penalties and drops needs to be collectively cleaned up in order for the offense to function. The team has fumbled seven times, committing ten penalties and seven drops in the first two games alone.Via The Michigan Insider:
The offense has a bye this week but things won’t get easier. Michigan goes to Madison on 9/21 and Wisconsin hasn’t allowed a point in two games. This could be the game that Harbaugh takes back the reins causing the cycle of issues all over again.
The Answer Is On The Roster
In college football a great QB can hide plenty of problems. We all got to witness it with Lamar Jackson at Louisville. He made an average team good during the Petrino era. Once he left and the cracks in the foundation started to show, it all came crumbling down.
Michigan is a more stable program with more talent. But quarterback play has held them back in the Harbaugh era. As previously mentioned, Patterson isn’t the answer. However, the answer is already on the roster by the name of Dylan McCaffrey.
He isn’t a finished work and there will still be problems and inexperience, but how much worse could it be? Michigan had 14 points at the end of regulation with Patterson at the helm. His fumbles also played a roll in Army scoring.
While McCaffrey has only had limited reps, he has been in the system and the offense seems to move and perform better with him in the game. Michigan doesn’t have the defense they had last year, but it is still a quality unit. With an emerging Freshman running back and a talented receiving core, there is no reason this offense shouldn’t be able to average more that 22 PPG.
Because of the limited number of reps, there isn’t gaudy numbers or highlight reels to point to when it comes to McCaffrey, just that the offense has a different/better look when he enters the game. But since this is Jim Harbaugh and he is the QB whisperer, he will stick with Patterson. Patterson will be the scapegoat as he literally fumbles away the season and Michigan is on the losing end of another rivalry game. As the Big Ten continues to build and become more competitive, Michigan will continue to miss the mark. Patterson will move on and the fan base will claim that once Harbaugh finds his guy, Michigan will be great.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Started Saturday Tailgate in 2018. Covering all things college football and talking Notre Dame on Twitter.