For generations, the Michigan Wolverines have embraced their quarterback depth. Brian Griese and Tom Brady. Chad Henne and Denard Robinson. These familiar names are etched into the psyches of Michigan fans as quarterbacks that provided the Wolverines with success.
Michigan Wolverines Relish Quarterback Depth
In the 2018 season, it is clear that Michigan is again in a good spot when it comes to quarterbacks. After a disappointing opening week, Shea Patterson has come into form as the starting quarterback. Backup quarterback Dylan McCaffrey has also demonstrated glimpses of brilliance. This has pleased head coach Jim Harbaugh, as Michigan has not lost since losing to Notre Dame in Week 1.
“I thought they were both good. Really on top of everything that they were doing,” Harbaugh said. “Really in control. I thought both had real good presence in the pocket going through their reads. throwing the ball accurately again”
Patterson Anchor for Michigan Offence
As the weeks have gone by, Wolverines starter Patterson has started to become more comfortable with the offense. In his last three games, he has had a completion percentage of 67%, 71% and 78% respectively. But the young quarterback knows that there is more room to grow and he continues to be receptive to knowledge from his coaches.
“Just learning – learning every single day,” says Patterson. “Every single day from (Coach Harbaugh) and the coaching staff – been around the game of football for so many years. Just any type of knowledge, any type of brain-picking that I can do, it’s what I do every single day.”
With the health of Michigan running backs Karan Higdon and Chris Evans in question, the offense will start to transition to becoming more pass oriented. This means that Patterson will have to shoulder more of a load on the pass front. But this isn’t the first time that Patterson will have to be unleashed. When he was at Ole Miss, five of Patterson’s seven games saw over 300 yards of passing yards. On more than one occasion, the young quarterback has even thrown for over 400 yards. It is why Harbaugh isn’t afraid of utilizing more passing schemes for the offence.
“Shea has been seeing the field really well,” Harbaugh said earlier this week. “Making accurate throws on time. Getting good protection for the most part. And the receivers across the board have been catching the football, getting separation — getting open — and finishing plays.”
Patterson has been taking advantage of a deep receiving corps. Donovan Peoples-Jones has developed into the Wolverines quarterback’s favorite target, generating 15 receptions for 169 yards and four touchdowns. Nico Collins has been utilized as a deep threat target, while Patterson has also made use of Zach Gentry at the tight end position and slot receiver Grant Perry.
“It’s exciting as a whole knowing that my offensive line is giving me time to throw the ball in a clean pocket,” Patterson stated. “The receivers run down the field and get open. Yeah, that’s pretty cool to see.”
Wolverines Dylan McCaffrey Made for Big Stage
It is clear that Harbaugh’s strategy is to showcase both of Michigan’s top quarterbacks. And McCaffrey, who has embraced the backup role, has been clutch when coming in for relief of Patterson. This season, the backup quarterback completed 8-of-15 pass attempts for 126 yards and two touchdowns. His best play came against Nebraska last week, where McCaffrey successfully completed a 75 zone read option play. The big stage is no stranger for the young quarterback, according to Harbaugh.
“Dylan continues to improve every time he gets in. That’s a position like all the positions in football, but especially quarterback, it takes playing and having time on task and being out there. And he’s getting that,” Harbaugh said. “It’s never too big for him. I really like that about Dylan.”
Despite being the backup quarterback, McCaffrey appreciates his relationship with the other quarterbacks, particularly with Patterson. The two are good friends and the partnership has transcended to both providing each other advice on their games. Getting the opportunity to play is important for McCaffrey and learning the Michigan offense through Harbaugh and Patterson will help the young rising star down the road.
“We’re all close as a quarterback bunch. When (Patterson) first came here, it’s always hesitant when there’s someone new. Even as a freshman (for me) coming in, everyone’s going to be hesitant toward you,” McCaffrey said. “But you spend so much time together, you get to know each other and all the tension kind of cools off once there’s a lineup and an order. Now, we’re just learning from each other.
“(Patterson’s) helped me through all this. But one thing I’ve learned from watching him, he plays very relaxed. But also prepared. He knows what to do and nothing really daunts him. That’s something I’ve taken from him.”
With Patterson and McCaffrey at the helm of Michigan quarterbacks, fans can rejoice in the reality that their school has a bright future in the quarterback position.
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